Removing a tattoo can be accomplished using direct excision or by laser. In most instances, the tattoo is too large to be “cut out” or in a place where a scar would be unacceptable and laser is the only logical alternative.
The laser works by breaking the tattoo ink into microscopic particles. The way it is accomplished is as follows. The laser is set to emit a wavelength of light specific for the color we are treating. A 2 mm circular beam of laser light is then used to trace over the tattoo. Treatments are done in an office setting and usually take 10 to 15 minutes. There is no downtime. As for recovery, the treated area may scab or blister so it will require some care, on about the same level as a skinned knee.
With any treatment 8-12% of the tattoo pigment is broken up. This means that for a professionally done tattoo, it will take between 8 to 12 treatments to get rid of it. Treatments are usually spaced at least 1 month apart to allow the skin to heal and avoid a scar. As we near the end of the treatment, longer intervals will elapse so as we can appreciate the full benefit of the previous treatment before we re-treat.
Amateur tattoos are much easier to treat owing to inferior pigments and more shallow placement. 3 to 5 treatments are enough for most amateur tattoos.
Problems associated with the laser use are primarily pigmentary changes of the skin. “Ghosting”, or a lightening of the lasered skin, can result, especially for those who tan easily. This typically resolves over time but can last 1 to 2 years. Those of Asian, Middle Eastern, or African American descent are not treated for fear of severe skin bleaching.
Lee Corbett, MD
4121 Dutchmans Lane, Suite 305
Louisville, KY 40207
All posts on this blog are authored by Louisville, Kentucky plastic surgeon Dr. Lee Corbett. Dr. Corbett specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery including facelifts, browlifts, blepharoplasy, Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, laser treatments, breast augmentation, breast lifts, breast reductions, body lifts, liposuction, and tummy tucks.