Last Updated on July 13, 2021 by Dr Sanusi Umar MD

Many people choose to get tattoos to express their individuality. However, over time, it’s common for men and women to feel differently and decide to have them removed. This may be due to job reasons. In other cases,  getting rid of a tattoo signifies closing a particular life chapter (e.g., being with a significant other, membership in a fraternity or gang, an infatuation with a particular fashion trend ) and moving onto a new phase. This demand has led to many forms of DIY tattoo removal products. However, the only method approved by the FDA is laser tattoo removal. In this video, Dr. U answers the frequently asked question, how does tattoo removal with laser work?

 

Laser Tattoo Removal for El Segundo Patients with Laser Therapy

To make an appointment with Dr. Umar, call FineTouch Dermatology at (310) 318-1500 or (877) 337-6424. To ask Dr. Umar a question, email drumar@finetouchderma…

 

Tattoo Statistics

A Harris poll discovered that a much greater percentage of Millennials (i.e. almost half at 47%) have at least one tattoo, compared to previous generations.

  • Generation X (36%)
  • Baby Boomers (13%)

At the same time, the percentage of people who regret getting them has increased from 14% to 23% between 2012 and 2015. In more recent years, statistics show that in the United States and Australia between 8-27% of people express regret (i.e. one or more).

While there are some people who love their tattoos for the rest of their lives, others feel their regret as early as the next day.  For these individuals, their decision was spontaneous, according to Advance Dermatology. 21% report feeling regret after a year. And for 36%, several years went by before they decided they no longer wanted their tattoo(s). 5% of the subjects in this study said that they took several years to plan and decide on their tattoos. [1]

So what are the top reasons for having a change in heart?

  • the attitude that he/she was too young at the time they had their tattoo done.
  • changes in lifestyle, personality, and attitudes about their appearance.
  • breaking up with a significant other whose name had been tattooed on their body
  • poor execution of the tattoo
  • lack of meaning

Fortunately, laser tattoo removal offers a way to ease these feelings of regret, helping men and women start a new lease on life.

How Are Tattoos Removed With Laser?

Dr. U explains that lasers emit energy in the form of highly concentrated light energy. Each laser will have a single wavelength frequency. This property is used to perform a specific job (e.g., getting rid of a particular color). A laser for tattoo removal works by breaking up tattoo pigment into smaller pieces.   White blood cells of the body’s immune system can then carry the fragments away from the skin’s surface.

Providers will choose a laser-based on the ink color. The patient’s skin color is another factor.

Some tattoo designs are more resistant to laser treatment. They will need more sessions.

This before and after image shows the results of two sessions of tattoo removal with laser. A faint outline can still be seen, which was addressed in a follow-up session

This before and after image shows the results of two sessions of tattoo removal with laser. A faint outline can still be seen, which was addressed in a follow-up session*

Q-Switch Laser Tattoo Removal

Q-switch lasers deliver laser energy in short bursts or pulses to shatter the ink. Providers will need to adjust the settings based on the needs of individual patients. These parameters include:

Pulse duration

The duration of the pulse has to do with how long each burst of energy lasts. The shorter the pulse is, the greater the impact it will have on the pigment particle.

Spot size

Spot size is a metric that defines the beam’s width. A larger diameter allows the laser to reach deeper layers in the skin.

Fluence

Fluence is the amount of energy delivered per square centimeter of skin surface area.

After three sessions of tattoo laser removal with Dr. Umar in Los Angeles, the patient happily shows off her ink-less arm.

After three sessions of tattoo laser removal with Dr. Umar in Los Angeles, the patient happily shows off her ink-less arm.*

 

Multi-Colored Tattoo Removal With Laser

One laser is usually used for a specific color. Laser treatment on tattoos with multiple colors will require the use of dye modules. These are separate units attached to the laser system. They act as filters to change an existing wavelength by increasing or decreasing it.

How Many Sessions Will You Need For a Successful Tattoo Removal with Laser

Some tattoo designs are easier to address than others. The number of sessions needed usually depends on the following factors.

Ink Colors Used

Darker colors absorb laser energy more readily than lighter colors. This makes them easier to shatter and remove.

If you would like to consult Dr. Umar about tattoo removal, use the button below for a free online consultation.

 

Laser ND YAG tattoo removal treatment results can vary according to the colors used in a tattoo.

Laser ND YAG tattoo removal treatment results can vary according to the colors used in a tattoo.

 

Anatomical Placement of the Tattoo

Some parts of the body have more blood vessels in a given area. Examples include the body’s central column, which consists of the torso, neck, head, and shoulders. A greater number of blood vessels will be able to transport white blood cells macrophages. These are needed to engulf the smaller tattoo particles and carry them away.

The extremities (i.e., arms, wrists, hands, thighs, legs, ankles, and feet) will have fewer blood vessels. Generally, it is more difficult to get rid of tattoos in these areas.

Amount of Ink Used

When more ink is used to create a tattoo, more sessions are needed to remove it.

This applies to larger-sized tattoos, highly saturated (i.e., richly colored designs), and layering when one tattoo is placed on top of another.

Presence of Scarring

Scar tissue is made of collagen fibers. When scarring develops in a tattoo region, pigment particles may become entangled in the collagen fibers and become less accessible to the laser. The patient will, therefore, need more sessions.

Age of the Tattoo

Over time, tattoo particles will migrate to deeper skin layers. Older tattoos will require a greater number of sessions.

Many wonder, "Can tattoos be removed completely?". According to the video above, the right kind of laser be effective.

Many wonder, “Can tattoos be removed completely?”. According to the video above, the right kind of laser is effective.

Smoking

Long-term smokers will have weaker immune systems. These patients will need more sessions to achieve a successful tattoo removal with a laser.

Skin Type

Ethnic individuals tend to have more melanin in their skin. This natural pigment easily absorbs laser energy which puts the skin at higher risk for overheating. For safety reasons, patients with darker skin tones will need more laser sessions.

Do DIY Tattoo Removal Methods Work?

Many products are being marketed to individuals who wish to become free of their tattoos. They usually claim to make tattoos less noticeable instead of removing them completely.

Should You Buy a Tattoo Removal Gel?

DIY tattoo removal products like gels and creams have a high potential for doing more harm than good. Various forms of risks include:

  • permanent scars
  • pain
  • burning
  • itching
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • scabs
  • infection
  • discoloration

Medical experts caution individuals to avoid using home tattoo removal products. These approaches may lead to irreversible damage. Using a tattoo removal with laser, it is possible to control the depth of the beam. However, the action of chemicals below the skin’s surface is much more unpredictable.

 

If you would like to consult Dr. Umar about tattoo removal, use the button below for a free online consultation.

 

 

References

  1. Elderton, J., Jono Elderton Writer, Nash, E., Hanstad, D., Dale Hanstad Writer, Petty, M. J., & Michael John Petty Writer. (2021, January 14). Tattoo Regret Statistics: What Percentage of People Regret Their Tattoos? Next Luxury. https://nextluxury.com/mens-style-and-fashion/tattoo-regret-by-the-numbers/.