Laser Tattoo Removal
Decorative tattoos have a history dating back at least 5000 years and the desire to remove them has probably existed just as long. Early attempts to remove tattoos had less than desirable results. Excision, dermabrasion, salabrasion and Argon or CO2 lasers often left behind unacceptable scars in place of the tattoo.
The advent of Q-switched lasers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s permitted the removal of most tattoo inks with very little risk of scarring. Dr. Kilmer was pivotal in the development and use of these lasers, performing the first human treatment with a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser in 1991. These Q-switched lasers remained the gold-standard for treating tattoos up until the recent introduction of picosecond lasers. Treatments with picosecond lasers may help clear tattoos with less treatments and also treat tattoos that have stopped responding to traditional Q-switched laser technology.
The Laser and Skin Surgery Center has a range of lasers with all currently available wavelengths to best treat your tattoo. In fact, as a continuing clinical study site we are proud to offer many of the newest laser tattoo removal technologies on the market.
How is tattoo ink removed?
Tattoo removal lasers remove tattoo ink with the energy of light. Just as natural sunlight is made up of light wavelengths of many colors, a laser is a device which is designed to produce one or more specific wavelengths of light. These wavelengths are either absorbed, reflected or simply passed through objects. Tattoo ink is removed by using a specific wavelength which passes through the skin but is absorbed by the ink. The rapid absorption of light energy causes the tattoo ink to shatter into small particles which are then removed by the body’s natural filtering systems over time. Dr. Kilmer performed the initial research which now helps all laser surgeons predict the best wavelength of light for a given tattoo ink color. The light is emitted in very short flashes called pulses. The impact of the energy from the powerful pulse of light is similar to the snap of a rubber band on the skin. Although the large majority of patients do not require anesthesia, topical anesthetic creams can be helpful.
How many tattoo removal treatments are needed?
The number of treatments depends on the amount and type of ink used and the depth of the ink in the skin. Professional tattoos usually require 6 – 10 treatments, while amateur tattoos generally require 3 – 6 treatments, all spaced approximately 6 – 8 weeks apart. Traumatic tattoos (pencil lead, asphalt and dirt embedded in the skin can leave a permanent “tattoo”) usually respond with 1 – 4 treatments. Occasionally, even more than ten treatments may be needed. Some tattoos fade only partially after several treatments and may leave a ghost image of your tattoo.
Which tattoo inks respond best to laser?
Blue/black ink and red inks fade the best. Oranges, purples and greens usually respond fairly well and bright colors such as yellow, or fluorescent colors are more difficult to remove, although additional treatments can produce significant fading. In most cases, location does matter. Fading is generally slower for tattoos located further down the arms or legs as they are further from the heart. The closer the tattoo is to the heart the better circulation, therefore better results.
Can I remove only part of a tattoo?
Yes, our lasers are very accurate so we can remove just a portion if you wish.
Can I remove permanent make-up?
Yes. Cosmetic ink is different than the ink used in body tattoos, but we have the correct lasers to effectively remove permanent make-up.
Is there any healing period after the tattoo removal treatment?
Occasionally there will be pinpoint bleeding associated with the treatment. An ointment, icepack and dressing will be applied to the area. The treated area should be kept clean with continued application of any ointment given to you by your physician. A shower can be taken the next day, although the treated area should not be scrubbed. Sun exposure should be avoided.
What does it cost to remove my tattoo?
It is not possible to give a simple answer to this question. How much it costs to remove a tattoo depends on the size, color and type of tattoo and this can only be evaluated by a consultation. Be wary of those who offer you a bargain or a lower price. If you need more treatments because the person who is treating you does not understand laser physics, the “cheaper” treatment may actually work out to be more expensive than seeing a laser expert who can optimize the laser settings for you and improve the appearance of your tattoo faster.
I just got a new tattoo and I hate it. How long do I need to wait until I can start Laser Tattoo Removal treatments?
We recommend patients wait 6 weeks after receiving their tattoo for their skin to completely heal to begin Laser Tattoo removal.
What lasers are used for tattoo removal?
- Q-switched Alexandrite Laser (755nm)
- Q-switched Nd:YAG Laser (532nm & 1064nm)
- PicoSure (755nm)
- PiQo4 (1064nm, 532nm, 650nm, and 585nm)
Schedule A Consultation
For more information about the Lucali Aesthetic Medicine of Murrieta or the services we offer please call (951) 412-0172 and schedule a consultation. Our team serves patients from Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee, Wildomar, Rainbow, Winchester, Fallbrook, Bonsall, Hemet and surrounding areas in Riverside County.