With the use of medical lasers, the removal of a tattoo can be safely accomplished, usually with minimal, if any, remaining ink or scarring. Dr. Green has treated tattoos with lasers for more than 20 years and has educated other physicians on laser removal of tattoos locally, nationally and internationally. Lasers are the most effective method to remove tattoos because they are able to specifically target different ink colors.
How are lasers used to remove tattoos?
The beam of laser light is directed through the skin into the tattoo. The absorbed light disrupts the ink promoting its removal by the body. A different laser – each emitting a different wavelength of light – is used for each ink color present in the tattoo.
Which type of laser does Dr Green use?
Dr. Green uses several different Q-switched lasers in order to target the different ink colors that may be present within a tattoo. Q-switched lasers emit light in very short pulse durations, which is required to target and remove ink in the skin. Lasers wavelenths that we utilize include: Nd:YAG (1064nm); KTP (532nm); 650nm; 585nm. During each treatment, tattoos with multiple colors will be treated with multiple laser wavelengths to target each color present.
What will my skin look like after treatment?
Immediately after tattoo removal treatment the skin will be somewhat red and swollen, sometimes with pinpoint erosions, similar to its appearance at the time that the tattoo was placed. The skin heals in a few days to a few weeks. The tattoo will lighten and continue to do so for weeks, or longer, after treatment.
How many treatments are required to remove a tattoo?
Usually at least a few treatments are required to lighten or eliminate a tattoo. However, the number varies – some are gone after one or two treatments and some tattoos may require more than ten treatments. This depends upon a number of factors – the two most important factors being: the color(s) of the tattoo and the complexion of the overlying skin. However, other factors include: the quantity of each ink; presence of any scarring (raised tattoos); age of the tattoo, and location of the tattoo. The colors of the tattoo will determine how quickly and easily the tattoo is removed. Black ink is the easiest color to remove – requiring the fewest number of treatments. Other colored tattoos take longer to treat – the more difficult colors being blue and green.
Does skin color affect the ease of tattoo removal?
Yes, skin complexion is one of the most important factors that determine the ease of tattoo removal. Light complexions are the easiest for removal (they require the fewest number of treatments). The darker the skin color, the more treatments will be required. If the skin is too dark it may not be possible to remove the tattoo. In addition, dark skin is more likely associated with alteration in skin texture, color, or scarring.
What is the interval between each treatment?
Treatments are usually scheduled at intervals of 6-8 weeks.
Are there any restrictions in activity after treatment?
All activities may be resumed immediately after treatment. However, after treatment, specific skin care guidelines are recommended that promote healing.
What do I feel during treatment?
Usually, there is no pain associated with treatment because, prior to treatment, the skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. Otherwise, treatment can be quite uncomfortable without an anesthetic, as the laser is felt more prominently. A topical anesthetic cream can be applied, however treatment will still be uncomfortable. After treatment there is usually minimal, if any, discomfort experienced.
Can a tattoo be completely removed?
Usually, all of the ink can be removed. Sometimes very faint pigmentation remains but it tends to fade spontaneously over time. If a tattoo is raised, it indicates that there is scarring present. In this instance, even if all of the ink is removed, the skin will usually remain elevated compared to the adjacent normal skin.
Are side effects possible after tattoo removal?
Yes, but they are uncommon. Alteration in skin color and skin texture may persist after treatment. The fewer the number of treatments required to remove the tattoo, the fewer these side effects occur.
David Green, M.D.
Dr. David Green is a Board Certified Dermatologist in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Green specializes in Dermatology, Dermatologic Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, and the treatment of Varicose Veins and vascular disorders.
He is Certified by the American Board of Dermatology, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a Member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the American College of Phlebology. He treats patients from Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and throughout the Mid Atlantic region.
Dr. David Green proudly offers services in his Bethesda, Maryland office.