The Q-switched Nd:YAG. It is highly
effective at removing a wide range of colored ink with only minimal side
effects. This laser is FDA approved for the removal of dermal pigmentation
(i.e. tattoo ink) and is the latest in a string of medical lasers designed to
remove unwanted tattoos.
How exactly does the laser remove tattoo ink?
There are two key steps to removing the unwanted pigment. First, the pigment in your tattoo will absorb the energy from the laser and break up like a sugar cube breaking apart. Then your body will carry away the destroyed pigment. Some colors (light blue, light green, and teal/turquoise) are difficult to remove completely and patients should expect that no more than 70-80% of this ink can be removed unless the tattoo is very old (20 years or more). The Q-swithced YAG is as effective as any available laser at breaking down a considerable amount of this ink when used by a highly-trained laser specialist. However, this doesn't happen overnight. Removing a tattoo takes a number of sessions.
Why do I need multiple sessions?
All tattoos are layers of ink, stacked on top of each other and a thick concentration of pigment particles that cannot be completely broken down in one session. We go over your entire tattoo with the laser, breaking up as much ink as possible in every session. Each session will produce some level of fading, although for very new tattoos the fading may not be as visible because the ink is still so thick and dense. Shaded areas are easier to remove because they have much less ink density. It may only take a couple sessions to remove this shading.
Side Effects and Risks
Will the laser procedure scar my skin?
No. This is a question that many new patients ask about, and we understand their concerns. Modern tattoo removal lasers (Q-switched Nd:YAG) will not scar the skin for two reasons. First, the laser doesn't go deep enough in the skin to cause a scarring response. Second, the pulse from the laser is so fast that only the tattoo pigmentation is affected and surrounding cells and tissue are left undamaged. Scarring was an issue 10 or 15 years ago when the equipment used for tattoo removal was rather primitive. There is no need to be concerned about scarring unless you have a history of keloid scarring, which our provider will discuss with you.
Does the procedure hurt?
Almost every patient we treat compares the pain from the procedure with that of getting the tattoo applied. A key difference is that laser tattoo removal is much quicker - most treatments take between 5 and 30 minutes, with the average being around 10-15 minutes. Patients compare the discomfort with that of a rubber band snapping against their skin. Black ink tattoos are slightly less uncomfortable to remove than colored tattoos due to the wavelength of light we use to break up the ink.
What side effects might I experience?
Most patients experience some redness, swelling, and minor blistering of the skin after a laser treatment. These side effects are temporary and your skin will heal back completely. We provide our patients detailed after-care instructions to help them manage their skin after the treatment.
FAQs about Removal Pricing
What is the cost of every session?
The cost of each session depends on the size of the tattoo or tattoos being removed, with sessions as low as $300 per session. We offer consultations for exact pricing and can give an estimate over the phone. Small tattoos are generally 2 inches by 2 inches are $300 per treatment. This means that a 1 inch by 4 inch tattoo would be small as well. A medium tattoo is a tattoo up to 4 inches by 4 inches, or 2 inches by 8 inches would be $400 per session. A large tattoo is normally given a custom price per session, and we are competitive in our pricing and superior in our service.
How many sessions will I need to remove my tattoo? '
The number of sessions needed to remove a tattoo depends on three factors: the age of the tattoo, the color of the ink, and the density of the ink
Older tattoos can be removed with fewer treatments than newer tattoos. A black ink tattoo that is 10 years old may take one or two treatments less than a 1 year old black tattoo. A 20 year old tattoo may take two to three treatments less than a 1 year old tattoo. A name tattoo written in black (also called "dark green") ink that is 1 year old may take 5-7 sessions to be removed completely.
Certain colors are more easily removed than others. Black and red tattoos are the easiest to remove. Orange, yellow, pink, purple, brown, and other shades are slightly more difficult to remove. The most difficult colors to remove are light green, light blue, and teal/turquoise. During the free consultation we'll discuss the number of treatments you'll need to remove certain colors, but expect that you'll need a few more if you have a difficult color, but the most difficult colors may not be able to be faded down completely.
.....Density of the Ink
Shading in a tattoo is easily removed. Some tattoos with letters use shading to fill in the outlines of the letters. Some tattoos with certain designs use shading for clouds or other visual effect. Shading will be removed in only a few sessions in most cases.
Do "tattoo removal creams" help?
There is little to no evidence that magic creams help faded tattoos. At best, they fade the skin on and around the tattoo, which makes the tattoo look a bit lighter. Looking at the ingredients and components of such products makes one wonder how they would purportedly remove tattoo ink. No medical professionals that we've ever spoken to has expressed anything different from our view - these creams are a gimmick, and a waste of time and money.