What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
Laser Tattoo Removal is a medical laser treatment to remove unwanted ink from the patients’ skin.
In our experience, amateur tattoos fade quicker than those done by professional tattoo artists. In addition, the diversity of the inks being used in the market may impact how easily the tattoo can be removed.
With so much that is unknown about the type of ink, how much was used, or how deep it is, it can be difficult to precisely estimate the number of treatments a patient’s unique tattoo may require to be completely removed from the skin.
However, many of our patients have had tattoo removal treatments elsewhere with minimal improvement, while we have been able to successfully eliminate them.
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?
At WIFH, we use the RevLite Q-Switched Yag laser, which has been the gold standard for tattoo removal for many years. The Q-Switched Yag Laser delivers powerful energy at a rapid speed, breaking up the tattoo ink into tiny particles. The body’s immune system sends in special cells to process these cells and carry them away, fading the tattoo.
It has 4 wavelengths of laser to effectively target and remove all colors of ink. Some colors are more difficult to remove than others such as blue and green. Tattoos with these colors may require additional treatments for optimal results. Some colors, such as white and pink, simply cannot be removed. They may fade but total elimination is unlikely. The RevLite Q-Switched Yag laser can be used safely on all skin types and ethnicities.
The best results are achieved removing black ink tattoos on all skin types (very fair to very dark). Tattoos that contain various colored inks are best removed on patients with light skin. For patients with darker skin and tattoos with various colors, the colors will fade substantially but we will NOT be able to remove all the color.
What Are The Risks/Side Effects?
- The treatment site appears unchanged or appears brighter/darker.
- The area appears white, pink, or red.
- The treatment site has pinpoint bleeding, blistering or red, yellow, or clear discharge and swelling.
Preparing For Laser Tattoo Removal
Two Weeks Before the Treatments
It is recommended for those individuals with light skin and colored ink to wear a high SPF sunscreen to prevent tanning or sunburn on or around the tattoo. It is also advised for anyone having tattoo removal to avoid spray tanning 3 weeks before each session.
The Day Before the Treatments
Patients will need to shave the treatment area the day before (or day of) each tattoo removal session.
What To Expect During The Procedure
We will cool the area with freezing cold air (-4℃) to help numb the area prior to the procedure. Once the laser begins pulsing, it quickly moves over the ink (few minutes, or seconds for small tattoos.) Sometimes the tattoo will “frost”, meaning a hazy color will form over the tattoo. This will dissipate in about 20-30 minutes.
As for the pain, tattoo removal feels like a rubber band snapping the skin with practically no pause between encounters. Some patients say the pain level is comparable to getting a tattoo.
Most treatment sessions typically last no more than a few minutes. As a rule, tattoos can take between 5 to 15 sessions to remove. Depending on your skin type, you can expect to return for subsequent visits every 6-8 weeks.
Laser Tattoo Removal Recovery & Aftercare
Once a patient’s laser tattoo removal treatment is complete, we will apply aloe and a loose bandage to protect the area. We will also provide patients with an ice pack to apply. Patients should ice the area off and on for the first hour.
To promote healing, patients should limit physical activity and sun exposure for the first 24 hours. If the body gets too overheated, it can cause the tattoo to blister. Showers can be taken but only if they are lukewarm and use mild soap. We also recommend avoiding hot tubs, pools, lakes/oceans, for approximately 7 days post treatment.
Patients can leave our office and return to work immediately after the procedure. Visit our tattoo removal aftercare page for more information on what to expect following each treatment.
Laser Tattoo Removal Consultations
We believe consultations are very important to help patients understand the laser tattoo removal process.
Our consultations give us the opportunity to get to know each patient and understand their needs.
At the consultation patients will meet with a member of our clinical team, and we will assess the tattoo, providing a realistic expectation of the outcome with laser tattoo removal.
Laser Tattoo Removal Before & After Photos
Laser Tattoo Removal FAQs
You can expect to see the tattoo lighten within the first 3 treatments. Some people will see this after one treatment and for others it may take longer. Everyone responds differently.
Patients should limit the amount of physical activity and sun exposure for the first 24 hours. If the body gets too overheated, it can cause the tattoo to blister. Showers can be taken but only if they are lukewarm and use mild soap.
Yes, the laser is accurate and can remove unwanted parts of tattoos.
Getting laser tattoo removal is not a painless procedure, but the treatments are very fast.
We have always described the sensation of laser hair removal like a rubber band snapping the skin. Tattoo removal is similar, only the rubber band would be stretched a little further before snapping the skin and with practically no pause between encounters. Some patients say the pain level is comparable to getting a tattoo.