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Tattoo removal lasers shatter the pigment of the tattoo, which is dispersed through the skin and carried away by cells of your own immune system. The Q-Switched laser has produced the best results. Q-Switched means that the laser is very quickly pulsed. This is why it is able to dissolve the tattoo ink without destroying the skin.
Ohio Valley Plastic Surgery offers the AlexLAZR laser from Candela Corporation, which is the fastest and most powerful Q-switched Alexandrite laser system. The 755nm wavelength enables safe and effective treatments that are gentle to the skin.
An Alexandrite laser (755NM), produces a purple/red light. Because light is absorbed by its opposite color and reflects its own color it is necessary to use a green light to remove red ink as it is necessary to use red light to remove green ink. The color of a tattoo will determine what laser is necessary to dissolve and remove a tattoo. The depth & density of the ink is probably the greatest determining factor involved in successfully removing a tattoo.
After each treatment the laser fragments the ink and penetrates a little deeper into your skin. Some blistering and scabbing often follow. Some tattoos disappear in one treatment, and others require 12 or more treatments for complete removal. Taking care of the treated area is the most important factor in removing a tattoo without a scar.
The physician using the laser can not regulate the speed of the fading process. The more energy used the greater the tissue damage thus trapping more ink. It is better to allow for more conservative treatment, rather than too aggressive, allowing the surrounding tissue to heal.
A topical anesthetic agent will be applied to the areas to be treated and covered with an occlusive dressing for 30 minutes to one hour before the treatment. Local anesthetic can also be injected into small tattoos.
A good candidate for tattoo removal is medium to fair skinned, and has dark but not dense ink(black/brown), with superficial depth of the ink. Areas taht respond best are the arms, chest, buttocks, or anywhere there is good circulation.
Medium or fair skinned patients react well because the light will be able to selectively target the ink instead of the dark skin. Dark ink that is not dense is favorable because the light is more attracted to darker colors so darker ink is fragmented better than yellow ink. Density is also a factor, since the more ink that is present, the more there is to fade. Superficial ink is also favorable because it is closest to the surface of the skin so the laser doesn’t have to penetrate so many skin layers to get to the ink.
Areas such as the arm or chest have more blood flow and are a better vehicle for the immune system which is what removes the ink. Areas such as the ankle or fingers have poorer circulation.
There are many factors involved in laser tattoo removal. Most amateur tattoos are removed in 6-8 treatments scheduled about 4 weeks apart. Removing a professionally applied tattoo is usually a fading process that requires a series of treatments spaced approximately 4-8 weeks apart. Professional multicolor tattoos usually require 8-10 treatments on average for complete clearing.