Approximately one out of every ten Americans has at least one tattoo. Unfortunately, many people come to regret their body art. Tattoos are often chosen to symbolize beliefs, lifestyle choices, romantic relationships, and personal struggles. These situations frequently change throughout one’s life, meaning the tattoo no longer represents the person. Additionally, many people find tattoos problematic in professional or social situations. A growing number of patients are choosing tattoo removal to make them more employable in an increasingly competitive job market. At the Rendon Center, we offer advanced laser treatment for effective tattoo removal.
Can tattoos be removed?
Tattoos are designed to be permanent. In the past, there were few options if you changed your mind. Over-the-counter creams have not been proven, and patients who have tried them report slight fading, at best. Dermabrasion (a different procedure from dermatological microdermabrasion), is traumatic to the skin and risks scarring. Early laser treatment had a limited scope of treatable cases. Fortunately, modern laser technology has brought us a gentle, effective solution to laser tattoo removal.
How does laser tattoo removal work?
High-intensity laser energy is delivered in short pulses to the treated area. Lasting only a few billionths of a second, these light pulses are gentle to skin tissues. The pigment absorbs light selectively, without disruption to surrounding skin. Laser treatment causes the ink to begin deteriorating. It breaks down into smaller pieces until it is safely removed by the body.
how have laser improved tattoo removal?
The light energy emitted by the lasers we use for tattoo removal at Rendon Center penetrates the skin and the light energy is absorbed by the color in your tattoo we are targeting. This energy breaks down the color into small particles, and the body removes them as it does with any waste products. This process takes some time, but this method of removing tattoos is so superior to earlier methods it’s not even comparable.
Formerly, the only way to remove a tattoo was with dermabrasion (basically sanding down the skin holding the tattoo) or by surgical excision. As you would assume, both methods created significant scarring, and both methods were quite painful during recovery.
Our lasers are very effective for removing just about any tattoo placed at any depth with any variety of colors. It may take a few sessions, but if you’re ready to be rid of a tattoo, this will get the job done.
How painful is laser tattoo removal?
Most of our Rendon Center patients say that getting the tattoo was more painful than removing it. They equate the feeling to that of having a rubber band snapped on the skin with each pulse of the laser.
We apply an ice pack immediately after your treatment, followed by antibiotic cream and a bandage. You’ll probably want to continue icing for a bit when you get home.
What are the risks involved with laser tattoo removal?
Laser tattoo removal is safer than other methods such as dermabrasion, and there are few side effects. The biggest risks are for infection. These are mitigated with diligent use of antibiotic cream and keeping the area covered. There is a risk of hypopigmentation, where the skin with the removed tattoo is paler than the skin surrounding it, but this is rare.
These procedures are safe and effective for removing unwanted tattoos when they are done by a team of experienced dermatologists, such as the team we have at Rendon Center. Tattoo removal isn’t something to trust to a nail parlor or day spa.
What do I need to do to prepare for my laser tattoo Removal Session?
You need to limit sun exposure for a month prior to your session. While this can be difficult in sunny Boca Raton, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for the laser to differentiate between your skin color and the colors in your tattoo. Avoid shaving, waxing, or exfoliating for a week or so before your appointment, as well. Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatories, or herbal supplements, as they can all lead to increased bleeding.
What does laser tattoo removal involve?
Several treatments are required for complete removal, or reduction, of professional tattoos. Appointments will be scheduled approximately six weeks apart, for maximum effectiveness. The total number of sessions required will vary, depending on several factors. Professional tattoos are usually removed with five to ten sessions. Amateur tattoos usually require fewer sessions. If you are having a tattoo covered with a new one, your artist may ask you to have the existing tattoo lightened. This typically requires between two and four laser sessions.
How long does the process take to fully remove a tattoo?
These are not instant procedures. That’s because most modern tattoos consist of several different colors, with the inks placed at varying depths in the skin. While laser energy eventually breaks down just about any ink color, some ink colors and types are more stubborn and require additional treatments.
The easiest ink to remove is black, as it is easy to match the laser wavelength to black. Other colors such as red, blues, and greens can be more difficult to remove. It also matters who placed the tattoo, to some degree. The hardest single color to remove is green. There are no guarantees, but even the most stubborn tattoo can be dramatically lightened with laser treatment.
Also, you can’t group a bunch of sessions into a short time frame, as your skin needs to recover after a laser tattoo removal session. At Rendon Center, we require 6 to 8 weeks between our laser tattoo removal sessions.
How should I care for my skin after laser tattoo removal?
After your session your treated area may seem as if it has a superficial burn. At first the tattoo will turn a frosty white color. This is caused by the release of carbon dioxide as the laser penetrates the skin. As mentioned above, you’ll probably want to ice the tattoo and take some Tylenol to soothe any discomfort. Don’t take aspirin, as it can cause bleeding. Within eight hours and continuing for the next three days the treated tattooed skin will begin to peel or blister. This usually isn’t dramatic, but it is important to not pick any scabs that form. This can cause scarring. You’ll need to keep the area covered with antibiotic cream and a bandage for the first 3 days. After that, you’ll keep the area clean and dry. In 1-2 weeks, all crusting and scabbing should fully resolve.
You can shower just a couple hours after your treatment but avoid water pressure directly on the tattoo. You won’t be able to soak the area until all scabs and blisters have completely healed. That means no baths, no hot tubs, and no swimming pools. This minimizes any risk of infection. You can exercise immediately, if you follow your skin care instructions. You’ll need to keep the tattoo area completely protected with SPF 25 or higher sunscreen for 3 months.
You need to wait from 6-8 weeks between sessions. That is necessary to let your body’s white blood cells get to work removing the fractured ink particles.
How do I find a laser tattoo removal specialist near me?
If you are suffering from “tattoo regret,” our experienced dermatologists at the Rendon Center can help you learn about all of your convenient, effective, and safe tattoo removal options.