About Tattoo Removal
How the laser tattoo removal works:
Why does the ink stay in the skin when you have a tattoo? When you have a tattoo the particles of ink are too large for the body to destroy, so instead it encapsulates the particles of ink with a network of collagen fibres as the skin heals, and there the tattoo remains.
How does the YAG laser work to remove it?The laser emits a pulse of light that is preferentially absorbed into certain colours of ink. The light enters the skin at a speed that is too fast to heat the tissues (billionths of a second), instead, it produces a ‘shock wave’ effect and breaks up the ink particles into smaller pieces, the body then recognises these particles as something that shouldn’t be there and attacks it. The particles are then removed naturally via the body’s own elimination system.
Can you treat all colours? No. Light is measured in nanometres and there are two wavelengths of light that are emitted from this laser -one is invisible infrared light(1064nm) and the other is visible green light(532nm). The infrared wavelength is preferably absorbed into black and dark blue inks, whereas the green light is absorbed by red ink. It is possible to treat some other colours although white,yellow and bright colours are difficult. This is not usually a problem however, as lighter colours cover very easily. If you wish to cover- up an existing tattoo then the darker colours will be faded or removed, allowing you greater choice of size and colour of the cover-up design you choose.
Why is it difficult to treat colours other than red and black? The light will only see the colour ink it is attracted to as different wavelengths absorb into different things. It is not possible to produce a laser that can see all colours as some wavelengths are too shallow when absorbed to affect the ink, others can absorb into other matter and damage the skin in the process. Another reason is that all ink pigments contain certain levels of heavy metals. Some pigments may have a higher concentration of some of these than others, and these heavy metals can react with the laser light and carbonise in the skin, turning the ink black. It is very difficult to remove the ink when this has happened so, if you have other colours you would like treating, the laser operator will perform a test patch for you to see if it is possible before proceeding.
How much will laser tattoo removal cost? Laser tattoo costs around £45 Per Session. Initial consultations are free. When you come for your consultation, we will measure your tattoo, carry out a skin assessment, and let you know how much each treatment will cost. Ask about our current special offers.
How many treatments will it take to remove my tattoo? Unfortunately, due to the nature of this procedure, it is impossible to predict exactly how many treatments it will take for complete results. It could take as little as 3 treatments for an amateur tattoo or as many as 10 treatments for a professionally applied tattoo. How quickly your ink fades will depend on several factors, such as the colours of your tattoo, the type of ink used and how your body responds to the treatment.
How far apart are the treatments? Your body needs time to break down the tattoo ink pigments after each laser treatment. This is a slow process, therefore you will typically schedule each treatment a minimum of 4-6 weeks apart.
What will my skin look like after each treatment? Your skin will most likely be red and feel like it has mild sunburn. This typically goes away after a couple of hours. There may also be some bruising. At times and with certain inks, there may be mild blistering that usually heals in about a week. After each treatment you will be given detailed instructions on how to care for your treated area.
Will the laser tattoo removal hurt? Patients have reported that laser tattoo removal feels like a rubber band snapping quickly on your skin. In order to make each patient as comfortable as possible, we offer anesthetic (numbing) cream that can be put on the tattoo before each of your treatments. This makes the experience much less painfull.
Does tattoo removal leave scars? The type of laser used leaves virtually no scars, however, in rare cases, those with scarring disorders, such as keloids, have an increased risk of forming a scar.
Who will do my laser tattoo removal? The laser tattoo removal will be performed by Suzy who is trained to do this type of procedure.
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Possible Side Effects of Laser Tattoo Removal
Every medical procedure comes with potential risks and complications. Laser tattoo removal is no exception to this statement.
The risk of infection is very low, especially if the patient follows the prescribed post-procedure instructions, but can occur.
The laser pulses heat up the ink particles which, in turn, can break tiny blood vessels around the tattoo. This causes superficial blisters that fill with water and ink to develop. These blisters are only an expansion of the very outermost layer of skin and will not lead to scarring. While the blisters can look intimidating and be tender to touch, do not puncture them. It takes 3 to 14 days for the blisters to heal completely.
Yet another sign that the tattoo removal is working, scabs often collect fragmented ink particles and usually appear 8 to 72 hours after the area has been treated. When the scab falls off, the top layer of ink will come with it. Picking at or peeling off scabs can increase the risk of scarring, so, however, tempting it might be, try to avoid this. A lot will depend on the size and location of your tattoo, but most scabs will disappear within two weeks.
Hypo and Hyperpigmentation
There’s a higher risk of hypopigmentation with tattoo removal on darker skin tones. People with darker skin can remove a tattoo with a laser, however, there is a higher risk of hypopigmentation because the laser may remove pigment from your skin along with pigment from your tattoo. Hypopigmentation occurs as small white macules matching the laser spot size and shape, within weeks of treatment. These may last for few months and may rarely become permanent. The risk of hypopigmentation appears to be directly proportional to the number of treatment sessions and fluency. However, these side effects can be avoided by using the right fluence tailored to an individual patient. A test patch in the covered area may be helpful to decide the appropriate fluence.
Patients that should not be treated
- During pregnancy or patient trying to become pregnant. There is an unknown but possible risk of transfer of ink to the fetus. In additional slight risk of miscarriage due to the stress of the procedure. Furthermore, during pregnancy, the skin becomes more sensitive to light and therefore more susceptible to react to laser light.
- Breastfeeding, again because of unknown but possible risk of transfer of ink to the baby.
- Sunburned skin in area of tattoo
Patients to exercise extra precautions
- Patients with bleeding disorders. These disorders can lead to heavy and prolonged bleeding during the process of tattoo removal.
- Chronic Disease like. Diabetes, asthma or heart diseases. (These patients may need longer between treatments to heal fully.)
- History of keloid scarring because of an increased chance of further keloid scars.
- History of hyper or hypopigmentation.
- Patients using antibiotic may cause an increased sensitivity to light
- Anemia also called a lack of blood.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease (A circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs.)
Aftercare Instructions for Laser Tattoo Removal
In general, a patient’s first few treatments will result in more significant side effects that later treatments. Once the amount of ink in the tattoo has decreased, the immune response associated with the treatment will be less obvious. Additionally, the patient will be more conditioned to the treatment.
To ensure that your tattoo removal sessions are moving along quickly, our laser tattoo removal clinic has some aftercare tips that you should take into consideration to best protect and heal your skin.
Laser-Tissue Interactions and Biological Effects
Once a laser beam is produced it is aimed at the tissue to perform a specific task. As the energy reaches the biological interface one of four interactions will occur; absorption, transmission, scattering, or reflection.
Once the laser energy enters the target tissue it will scatter in various directions. This phenomenon is usually not helpful but can help with certain wavelengths bio stimulative properties.
Absorption is the most important interaction. Each wavelength has specific chromophores that absorb their energy. This absorbed energy is converted into thermal and-and/or mechanical energy that is used to perform the work desired. Near-infrared lasers like diodes and Nd:YAGs are mostly absorbed by pigments such as hemoglobin and melanin. Erbium and CO2 lasers are predominantly absorbed by water and hydroxyapatite. The shorter, near-infrared wavelengths of diodes and Nd:YAG lasers also penetrate tissue more deeply than the longer, mid-infrared wavelengths of the erbium and CO2 lasers.
Specific molecules in the tissue known as chromophores absorb the photons. The light energy is then converted into other forms of energy to perform work.
The laser beam bounces off the surface with no penetration or interaction at all. Reflection is usually an undesired effect, but a useful example of reflection is found when Erbium lasers reflect off titanium allowing for safe trimming of gingiva around implant abutments.
The laser energy can pass through superficial tissues to interact with deeper areas. Retinal surgery is an example; the laser passes through the lens to treat the retina. The deeper penetration with Nd:YAG and diode lasers is an example of tissue transmission as well.
The wavelengths of the four most common medical and aesthetic lasers are shown where they occur in the electromagnetic spectrum. All are in the non-ionizing infrared part of the spectrum. Absorption patterns of the chromophore water, melanin, and hemoglobin are superimposed on the graph. This absorption is what converts light energy into thermal and/ or mechanical energy to do work.
Types of laser-tissue interactions
Lasers are powerful tools that are increasingly being used for a growing number of medical applications. Lasers are used every day to remove unwanted tattoos, make incisions during surgeries, and treat aches and pains. Each of these applications works because of one of three types of laser-tissue interactions: photothermal, photomechanical, or photochemical.
Lasers relying on photomechanical effects use shorter pulses of power and thermal expansion to create acoustic waves. These waves then break up the target material into smaller particles, making it useful for applications such as tattoo removal and photorefractive keratectomy.
Lasers that produce a photothermal effect use prolonged energy exposure to facilitate an increase in chromophore temperature, which in turn leads to cellular vaporization. This type of laser-tissue interaction is what occurs during surgical and hair removal laser use.
Lasers using photochemical effects do not destroy or break up tissue. The light that interacts with tissue in a photochemical manner is absorbed into the chromophores and precipitates a biological cascade of events that promote pain relief and inflammation reduction. Photochemical laser-tissue interactions are operative in therapy applications, such as Deep Tissue Laser Therapy and photodynamic therapy.