Laser Tattoo Removal
In the United States, a Harris Poll done in 2008 revealed that 15-20% of people with tattoos regretted having had them done. 20% felt they were just too young when they had them done; 20% didn’t like the permanence and the feeling they were “marked for life”; and 18% just no longer liked them.
So as these people got a little older and their lives changed, they felt embarrassed. There were also such motivations as a new job, problems with clothes or a significant event such as marriage, divorce and children. A more recent survey showed that in the US about 20% of adults have received a tattoo and of those, about 30% regret having done so.
Various methods have been used over the years and tattoos are no longer considered permanent. However, removal is much more expensive and may be more painful than the initial tattoo. People have tried dermabrasion, scrubbing the skin with salt, freezing, and surgical excision with or without skin grafts. All of these methods have shown varying success rates.
The laser was first tried for tattoo removal in the 1990’s and has come a long way since then. Laser tattoo removal is now considered state-of-the-art. Typically darker ink colors are easier to remove and yellows, greens and fluorescent inks are more challenging to treat.
Tattoo ink or pigment particles are too large for the body’s scavenger cells to remove from the body. The laser energy breaks down the particles of ink into microscopic size particles which are then picked up by these cells and removed from the body.
How the Laser Works
Here at Laser Body Solutions we have been using lasers for almost 10 years for various forms of “selective photothermolysis” (SPTL). We started with Laser Hair Removal and Laser Vein Removal. Laser tattoo removal is one of the newest applications of this principle and depends on four factors:
- The light has to go deep enough into the skin to reach the pigment.
- The laser light must be more selectively absorbed by the pigment than by the surrounding skin.
- The speed at which the laser energy is released must be so short so that the pigment particles are shattered before heat can get to the surrounding skin so that there is no burning of the skin. This requires what is called a q-switch which delivers the energy in nanoseconds.
- The energy must be sufficient to fragment the ink particles. The laser we use is a q-switched Nd:YAG UltraLight Q laser which delivers energy at two different wavelengths: 1064 nm for all dark tattoo pigments and 532 nm for red and orange pigments. The 1064 nm demonstrates low absorption by melanin and hemoglobin, the pigments of skin and blood, making it the safest for dark inks, whereas the 532 nm is highly absorbed by melanin.
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).
After 2 treatments
After 3 treatments
After 13 treatments
After 9 treatments
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