At one time, tattoos were considered part of an attitude of rebellion, but today tattoos are becoming more normalized; they can now be considered an attractive adornment of the body. They are full of meaning and have become people’s personal expressions.
They have become so popular that about 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo and about half of all millennials have one too.
But it is also true that 25% of tattooed people regret having done it.
Previously, to remove the tattoos, they had a painful procedure with many side effects that caused damage to surrounding skin, scars, and marks.
Fortunately we have technological advances that allow the process to be less painful and reveal better results
Tattoo removal lasers use ultra-short pulse lasers that are extremely hot, extremely fast and operate in a very narrow frequency.
Speed and heat are crucial to cracking the ink particles apart.
The heat in the laser is used to expand the ink particle, this is called thermal expansion. The pulse, however, has to be fast enough so that half of the particle remains cool. The contrast of the cool and hot forces is what ultimately breaks the ink particle apart.
This overall process is called photothermolysis.
Despite the fact that the process is non-invasive, the high temperature can cause some pain, therefore some local numbing techniques are used.
The intensity of the pain depends on tattoo location. There are areas of the body with more nerve endings, which causes greater sensitivity to treatment.
How the skin reacts after the laser
The skin around the tattoo is not affected because the amount of time that the heat hits the particles is only a fraction of a second, so the energy leaves the body without affecting the surrounding area.
After the procedure, the lasered skin can be prone to redness, blisters, swelling, scabs, frost-like patches, itching, and small amounts of bleeding. The frost-like patches are the product of water and CO2 vapors, formed by heat, that try to quickly escape your skin. You will notice that the skin will flake for about two weeks.
However, it is important to remember that everyones’ skin is different therefore everyones’ reactions can be different.
After the procedure, you must follow the specific instructions of your specialist. This will help avoid unwanted side effects like scars, infections or changes in skin texture. If post laser treatments are performed properly, the recovery time can be lessened.
The following tips can help achieve improve chances of a speedy and successful recovery:
-Prepare your immune system: Remember that the immune system is charged to remove the remains of ink. (the lasers break the ink particles apart into small pieces and the white blood cells absorb them for transportation to the liver where they are expelled). Eat nutritious food, sleep properly, do not smoke cigarettes, reduce stress, and drink plenty of water.
-Proper Cleaning and protection: clean with cold water,without rubbing; use an antibiotic cream after about three days to reduce irritation and itching; and use a bandage the first three days to avoid infection.
-Avoid anything that can irritate the area such as shaving, direct contact with water jets, tanning, prolonged exposure to UV rays
-Do not take aspirin: it is an anticoagulant and can produce bleeding and bruises that are counterproductive for skin healing; use ice packs to calm discomfort.
-Do not touch, scratch or pick at the scabs
Effectiveness & Side effects
Laser treatment for tattoo removal is an effective procedure, but the results vary. Here are a few factors that can affect results:
- the type of tattoo ink
- the procedure used to create the tattoo
- tattoo size
- tattoo location
- tattoo age
- tattoo color
Between 10 and 20 sessions will be required for total removal.
To get a full idea of all possible risks and side effects, meet with a specialist to be evaluated. They can help you make an informed decision on if this procedure is right for you.
Some rare side effects are:
- a change in skin pigmentation. This occurs in very few cases. That the vast majority normalize after six months to a year. In some cases it does not fade, but they are very few.
- 2% can present scars, but very slight that with topical treatment, tend to improve.
Each section may cost between $ 200 to $ 500. If 10 to 20 sessions are required to remove it, the removal amount is between $ 2,000 to $ 10,000.
Tattoos can be a great thing, but nonetheless they are a permanent decision. Thankfully there are options to help rewind time; explore these options with a specialist!