From the moment you get your tattoo, your immune system works hard to remove it. That’s because it recognizes the ink particles as foreign bodies and tries to break them down. If you have an older tattoo, you have already seen the fading caused by your immune system at work. Laser tattoo removal works by breaking down the ink into tiny particles that your immune system can transport away more quickly and easily. You can think of this as the laser speeding up the process that is already occurring in your body. If you’re considering laser tattoo removal, it can be helpful to dispel some of the myths about it before you begin the treatment process. Here’s what to know about laser tattoo removal with Dr. Baird.
The first step in tattoo removal is a consultation with Dr. Baird. There are several factors to consider when creating your treatment plan. The color, type, depth of the ink deposits; the age of the tattoo, where the tattoo is on your body, and the color of your skin will all affect the removal process. Your tattoo removal will require several sessions scheduled several weeks apart. Your body will need time to process the ink particles through your immune system, and your skin will need time to heal between each session. Your tattoo will lighten slowly over time after each session. Additionally:
- Some tattoo colors are easier to remove than others. Black and dark blue are the easiest inks to remove. Purple, white, and pastel inks are the most challenging.
- Most tattoo removal treatment plans take several months to complete. Larger, more complex tattoos can take a year or more to totally remove.
- Common side effects of laser tattoo removal include pain, swelling, bleeding, blistering, scabbing, scarring, skin color changes, and infection.
Depending upon the location of the tattoo, you will either sit in a treatment chair or lie on a treatment table. The tattoo area will be numbed with an injection of local anesthesia or with a numbing cream. Once the numbing takes effect, the procedure is ready to begin.
At this point, Dr. Baird will use a specialized laser wand about the same size as a small hairdryer. He will place the opening of the wand against your skin and start the laser procedure. This handpiece administers very fast pulses of laser energy to break up the pigment. You may feel some discomfort depending upon whether your treatment plan includes numbing cream or local anesthesia. The length of each treatment session will depend on how large your tattoo is and the various factors surrounding the pigments.
After each procedure, you will be able to see that the shape of your tattoo is now raised and is a lighter color. This is a normal reaction to the laser treatment. Your tattoo will be covered in antibiotic cream and bandaged. Your aftercare package will include instructions on caring for your removal site. It’s extremely important to follow these instructions so that your skin heals properly and does not form scarring or unwanted pigment. Generally, you can expect your skin to heal fully over the course of a week or more.
Schedule a Consultation
At Farmington Dermatology, we offer leading expertise and state-of-the-art technology to help you achieve your tattoo removal goals. To meet with a board-certified dermatologist and learn more about your options, contact our Farmington office by calling or filling out our online form.