A: Multiple treatment sessions are required for complete tattoo removal. The average is 10 treatments, and the range is from 3 to 20. The best spacing between treatments is at least eight weeks. This allows the body to remove the smallest particles first, allowing the tattoo to lighten. At subsequent treatments, the larger particles are targeted and as time passes the tattoo will progressively lighten.
The number of treatments can be estimated before a tattoo removal program is begun, but because of everyone’s unique biological makeup, it is an estimate only. For this estimate we use the Kirby-Desai Scale score which takes into account several factors and gives us the ability to predict the number of treatments with about 80% accuracy.
Q: How much does it hurt?
A: People have varying tolerance to pain. Most patients who have had tattoos, followed by removal, report that removal is more painful than the initial procedure. Some patients have described the sensation as the same as getting hot specks of cooking grease splased on the skin or like a severe rubber band snap. We recommend taking two Extra-Strength Rapid-Release Tylenol thirty minutes before your appointment and we will apply anesthetic gel to the area to be treated. Aspirin or ibuprofen should be avoided because they can act as blood thinners and lead to unsightly bruising.
Q: What happens after the treatment?
A: Each spot treated may show slight elevation with white discoloration. There may be pin-point bleeding. Swelling and any redness usually resolve by the next day. Sometimes a crust may form over the entire area treated. This can last a couple of weeks and when it comes off there may be some tattoo pigment in the crusted material. Cortisone cream 1% may help with the inflammation caused by the treatment. Antibiotic ointment is not necessary. You should see fading over the next 8 weeks.
Q: Are there any side effects or complications?
A: Almost half the patients treated may show some hyper- or hypo-pigmentation in the areas of treatment. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 months, but may be permanent. There is a higher likelihood of hyperpigmentation in darker skinned individuals. The following complications can occur but are very rare: infection, lack of complete removal, permanent scarring.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost is determined by the size of the tattoo to be removed. Dr. Gold can give you an estimate when you come in for a free consultation.
This information is intended to supplement, not replace, consultation with your physician regarding Laser Tattoo Removal. Please consult with Dr. Gold if you have additional questions or if you have questions that may not be covered in this section.
Laser Tattoo Removal
Using the Kirby-Desai Scale, Dr. Gold can give you a reasonably precise estimate of the number of treatments that will be required to remove your tattoo(s).
“I could never wear shorts or a bathing suit in the summer because of ugly spider veins on my legs since pregnancy. I had laser spider vein treatment last winter and I am looking forward to bathing suit season with anticipation instead of dread this year.”