How does the treatment work?
Today, cosmetic medical lasers designed for tattoo removal range from a single wavelength of light to a broad spectrum of light. All of which are intended to remove the ink in the tattoo without damaging the skin. Certain colors of light are absorbed by specific colors of the tattoo ink. The light energy vaporizes or fragments the ink particles. Your body then absorbs these ink fragments naturally and the color fades over the next couple of weeks. This laser tattoo removal treatment is very similar to treatment that has been done for years to treat birthmarks.
What are other tattoo removal options?
Laser tattoo removal is the safest, quickest and most likely to leave your skin intact following treatment. Other treatment options are surgical excision, chemical peel and traditional dermabrasion. These various treatment options are invasive treatment methods and often result in scarring.
Are there any possible side effects?
Some patients experience redness, swelling, tenderness, crusting, sunburn sensation, or itching immediately following treatment. Your physician will discuss your treatment program with you at the time of your consultation and be happy to tell you more about what you can expect from laser tattoo removal. If you experience anything different than what is discussed with you following your treatment, report back to your physician for a follow-up visit.
What are treatments like?
First, the tattoo is cleansed and photographed. Emitting laser or pulsed light, the laser hand piece glides over the surface of the tattoo. The size and color of the tattoo determine the length of treatment time. A tattoo the size of a quarter would take approximately 3-5 minutes to treat. Some patients request a topical anesthetic cream that when applied prior to a treatment, can minimize the stinging effect of the laser or intense light. Many patients toleratethe removal procedure without topical anesthetic and report the treatment as feeling similar to numerous rubber band snaps. An ointment is applied following the treatment to keep the area moist and then it is covered with a protective dressing.
How many treatments are required?
Size, color, location and the age of the tattoo determine the number of treatments necessary for effective tattoo removal. During the consultation, your treatment regimen will be reviewed and any questions you have will be answered. Be sure to contact your physician if you experience side effects not described during your consultation.
What results can I expect?
The results and appearance of the tattoo vary from patient to patient. After each treatment session you will see the tattoo become lighter. Typically, multiple treatments will be required and are scheduled 4 to 8 weeks apart. See an example of tattoo removal before and after pictures, above.
Dr. Kovak is a board certified physician trained in cosmetic dermatology and laser surgery. Schedule a free consultation at our Chicago area office today and we will tell you more about the Picoway Laser.