Laser Tattoo Removal
Today, laser tattoo removal costs far less than it did a few years ago. British Laser Clinics have invested in specialist laser tattoo removal equipment. Using the most modern and effective laser technology has significantly reduced the average treatment length and subsequently, cost.
British Laser Clinics advise that laser tattoo removal treatment courses will comprise, on average, of four to twelve sessions in total. Treatment length is dependent on various factors such as skin type, age of tattoo, colour of tattoo ink, tattoo size, and the location of the tattoo on the body. Average sessions take just 30 minutes. During your initial consultation our laser tattoo removal specialists will advise you on how many treatments or sessions you are likely to need in order to fully remove your tattoo.
How laser tattoo removal works
In order to understand how laser tattoo removal works, it’s important to first understand why tattoo ink stays in the body after the tattoo artist has finished injecting the ink.
When you have a tattoo, the particles of ink that are injected into the skin are too large for the body to break down and destroy, so instead it encapsulates and suspends the particles of ink within a complex network of collagen fibres. These particles of ink will remain permanently visible, although will usually start to fade over time.
Laser tattoo removal is most commonly performed using a Q-switched neodymium: yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) laser, that breaks down the ink particles of the tattoo into minute pieces. The small particles of ink are then easily absorbed and flushed away by the body; replicating the natural fading that time or sun exposure would often create. All tattoo colours have specific light absorption spectra. The laser used for tattoo removal must be capable of emitting adequate energy within the given absorption spectrum of the pigment to provide a fully effective treatment. Certain tattoo pigments (colours), such as yellows, greens and fluorescent inks are far more difficult to treat than darker colours, such as blacks and blues; they have absorption spectra that fall beyond or on the edge of the emission spectra available in the tattoo removal laser. Modern pastel coloured inks contain particularly high concentrations of titanium dioxide which is highly reflective. The result being that these type of inks are far more difficult to remove since they effectively reflect a significant amount of the incident light energy back out of the skin. As a general rule: the darker the tattoo, the more effective the treatment.
The vast majority of experts consider laser treatment the safest and most effective way of removing a tattoo, although it is a lengthy process that will often require multiple repeat visits in order to fully remove the unwanted tattoo. These days, with increased technological advances in laser development, the Q-switched lasers are said by the National Institutes of Health to be a safe and effective method of tattoo removal with scarring or burning of the skin being highly unlikely. Certain areas of the body where the skin is thinner will however be more prone to scaring than thicker-skinned areas, although this is very rare when a modern Q-switched laser is used.
As some people will experience slight discomfort during the process of laser tattoo removal, The British Laser Clinics advise the application of a numbing cream at least one hour prior to treatment. This simple precaution will ensure that the process is a far more pleasant experience. The energy density emitted by the laser is determined prior to each treatment by our experienced technicians, as well as the spot size and repetition rate. The power of the laser is gradually increased over each session in order to expedite the removal process. During the treatment process, the laser beam passes harmlessly through the skin, targeting only the ink that is resting in a liquid state within the body. It can sometimes be possible to see immediate results, however in most cases the fading occurs gradually during the four to six week healing period between treatments.
Laser Tattoo Removal FAQs
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 2 or 3 treatments for an amateur tattoo or as many as 12 treatments for a professionally applied tattoo. How quickly the ink fades will depend on several factors, such as the colours in the tattoo, the type of ink used, and how your body responds to the treatment.
In many cases your tattoo will be fully removed by the end of your treatments, however in some incidences a faint shadow will remain where your tattoo used to be. This will often fade even more in time.
Laser tattoo removal is a slow process. Your body needs time to break down and flush away the ink particles after each treatment. Typically each session should be scheduled a minimum of four to six weeks apart.
Unfortunately not. Light is measured in nanometres and there are two separate wavelengths of light that are emitted from the Q Switched Nd : YAG laser. The first one is invisible infrared light (1064nm) and the second is visible green light (532nm). The infrared wavelength is usually absorbed into black and dark inks, whereas the green light is absorbed by red and lighter inks. It is sometimes possible to treat other colours, although white, yellow and green are notoriously difficult to remove. Generally speaking, the darker the ink, the more effective the laser will be at removing the tattoo.
Many patients have reported that laser tattoo removal feels like having a rubber band snapping quickly and repeatedly onto your skin. In order to reduce the pain, we advise applying an anesthetic (numbing) cream one hour prior to your session. There are various numbing creams that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacist, and by taking this extra precaution the experience becomes much less painful.
The type of laser used leaves virtually no scars, however, in exceptionally rare cases those with scarring disorders such as keloids, have an increased risk of forming a scar.