We use the Q-Switched laser (1064nm and 532nm) for the removal of the following conditions: black or blue tattoos and benign pigmented lesions. Laser treatments with the Q-Switched accomplish tattoo removal or can help reduce the components of sun-damaged skin such as “age-spots” (also called sun freckles, liver spots, and lentigines).
We mainly remove blue, black, green colors in the tattoo due to different wavelengths of laser light which are attracted to different colors of tattoo ink. Lasers are machines that produce a beam of light that has a specific biological target. Some lasers target blood vessels and are absorbed by these. Some lasers target pigment, so hair follicles, “age spots” or tattoos absorb these. The target that absorbs the light, converts it to heat and is modified or removed.
Most people require on average 1-3 treatments for pigment reduction, and on average 3-10 treatments for tattoo reduction, performed every 6 weeks but occasionally more may be necessary. There are no set requirements for numbers of treatments, however, only recommendations. New lesions may appear over time; therefore, more treatments may be needed if reduction is desired.
Depending on the size of the tattoo that is to be removed, treatment may be very fast (less than five minutes) or quite lengthy. If the tattoo is large, then we will topically numb the area with anesthetic instead. The laser otherwise feels like a very hot pulse that is fired at the skin in the pattern of the tattoo. Immediately following the treatment, you will feel some heat. We will apply topical ointment to the area and dress the tattoo with a bandage for proper healing. Tattoo Removal takes multiple treatments. The treatment quantity varies upon patient satisfaction; average for most removals is 3-10, provided every 2 months. But, not all tattoos may be removed with 10 or more treatments.
Tattoo Removal at Dermasolutions is performed by using a Q-Switched Laser. The laser offers multiple wavelengths to choose from. Dermatologist use the optimum wavelength that passes into the skin and is absorbed by a specific colour ink, customizing the treatment for each patient and each individual tattoo.
The Q-Switched laser delivers short & high power pulses, effectively breaking apart darker colors that are able to be absorbed by the body’s immune system. Why is this important? This laser will leave the surrounding tissue intact, unlike other methods of removal, allowing for better healing and blending to the surrounding tissue. The color of the tattoo does matter. The tattoo could be completely removed from the skin or partially removed. Certain lasers remove certain colors. Also, keep in mind the lighter colors are more difficult to completely remove.
Just as it was uncomfortable to receive the tattoo, there is also discomfort with the removal. To reduce discomfort, topical or local anesthetic is often used just before the procedure. Other side effects that can occur with tattoo removal include redness, scabbing for up to two weeks post treatment. Proper skin care is needed post treatment to heal the treated area. Any laser treatment also has the risk of the following side effects although very uncommon: skin wound, infection, scarring, hypo or hyper-pigmentation, bruising and peeling. Prior to treatment all potential risks and side effects will be discussed with you by your dermatologist.
Aftercare: Just as you had to care for your skin after receiving the tattoo, it is important to also use proper skin care as directed by your laser provider after each procedure to remove the tattoo for proper healing. Topical steroid based ointments are usually recommended post treatment for proper wound healing.
Alternatives may include makeup, chemical peels, dermabrasion, photorejuvenation, laser peels or resurfacing, skin grafting, and other laser procedures. Q-Switched is the most tolerated and effective method that requires minimal downtime. Q-Switched is the preferred method of removal due to the quick results with minimal downtime or side effects in comparison to the alternative methods.
Other treatments should not be done on the tattoo during the wound healing process.