Where do we get our information from?
We know that there is a lot of information out there online about tattoo removal strategies. Some of it is more true than others. Beware of companies and websites trying to convince you of non-laser tattoo removal methods, as they have continuously been proven less effective. Tattoo Removal Houston’s answers are based off of trusted information from laser industry officials and from medical journals like the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. Laser therapy has been proven to be the most effective method of tattoo removal with minimal risk to the patients. It is by far the most widely accepted tattoo removal treatment we recommend you use it and don’t risk any thing else. If we found trustworthy and authoritative scientific evidence that tattoos were better off being removed by rubbing avocado and salt or dairy on your tattoo then we’d be the first to tell you, but we haven’t yet ;).
How laser tattoo removal works?
When light hits an object some of that light (certain wavelengths) will be reflected , some might be absorbed by the object and other wavelengths will pass through the object. The wavelength of light that is reflected that determines what color we see the object as having – ie a red ink is ‘red’ because it reflects light with a red wavelength most effectively and absorbs other colors/wavelengths such as green or purple.
During the laser tattoo removal procedure, the ink particles of the tattoo are subjected to short (like nanosecond short) bursts of very high energy light. The ‘optically dense’ ink particles absorb this light very effectively but because it is such a large amount of energy in such a short period they can’t get rid of the energy as heat fast enough and instead ‘shatter’. The fragments of ink are then small enough to be removed by the individual’s own white blood cells.
Most of our skin’s cells won’t absorb the light from the laser as effectively and don’t have to cope with this sudden influx of energy. There is something that is naturally like ink in the skin called Melanin. Melanin is the natural pigment in the skin which determines how dark or pale our skin is. When you are more tanned, it is because your skin produces more melanin molecules, as a natural defense against sun exposure.
Can you successfully treat all tattoo colors?
The lighter the color, the more difficult it is to treat because it’s harder to get the ink particles to absorb the energy from the light. In particular, white ink will reflect all wavelengths of light. Turquoise and other bright blues are also a lot harder to treat. However, as a neighboring effect of treating a darker color next to it, these lighter colors are often reduced. Fortunately, these lighter colors usually become a lot less noticeable once the other darker colors in the tattoo are removed.
No. We cannot treat tattoos which only show up under ultraviolet light.
How long does each treatment session take?
It varies, but usually not that long. We will begin each session by checking to make sure that there has not been a change to your medical status and reviewing the results of the last treatment. We can then discuss the plan for further treatments. Individual treatment sessions are fast as the laser can fire at up to 10 times a second and the entire tattoo can usually be treated in matter of minutes. We can adjust the speed to meet your comfort level as some patients like it slower while others like to go as quick as possible. Some tattoos require our technicians to use different lasers, therefore there will be an added time for switching lasers.
A small to medium tattoo will typically take around 15 minutes to treat – with the actual time spent with the laser treatment only lasting a few minutes (the remaining time is spent with prep, and cleanup). Larger tattoos however, will be treated in parts/sections. For example, a full back tatt might be treated in 4 parts. A given quarter will typically be given 6 or so weeks to recover before we move onto the next treatment. However, there is nothing stopping patients from treating the next quarter a week or even a day later.
How many sessions will I need?
Every tattoo is different. Once you come in for your initial consultation, we will be able to determine how many sessions your tattoo will require. Some will be completed in 1 or 2, while others will be completed in 10 or 15.
Each time your tattoo is treated a proportion of the remaining ink will be broken down by the laser and the tattoo will steadily fade away. That is why we wait a month or two in between sessions. How quickly the tattoo fades and how much ink is broken down after each session depends on a number of various factors which are determined both when the tattoo is done and at the length of the laser treatment. These factors include:
- The color and type of the ink – Darker ink is often easiest, while lighter colors are hardest since dark colors absorb most light and lighter colors reflect the most light.
- The Quality of the tattoo being treated – tattoos drawn by amateur artists are often shallower and contain less ink than those of professional tattoos. The shallower and lighter the tattoo is, the quicker and easier it is to remove. ***If the tattoo was done with substances other than ink, like many amateur tattoo artists do, it may be impossible to remove with a laser treatment.
- The power and wavelength of the laser. See ‘How laser tattoo removal works?’.
- The Position of the tattoo on the body – Areas of the body with a stronger blood flow/supply will get rid of the broken down ink quicker. Therefore, the closer the tattoo is to your heart, the quicker it will be to break the ink down.
These are just a few of the reasons why we can’t give you a guaranteed solid number but if you have an amateur tattoo with only black pen ink then chances are that you may only need 1-3 treatments. But if you have have a colored tattoo done by professional artist, then it is likely that you will require 9-12 or even more sessions. Tattoo Removal Houston will give you our best estimate when you come in for your initial assessment.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
AH. The eight million dollar question. Again, everyone is different and experiences vary depending on how sensitive your skin is. Most of our patients describe it as a ‘stinging’ sensation – like the spit of hot grease or the snap of an elastic band against the skin. Most people reassuringly tell us that it wasn’t as bad as they were expecting!
If you really are worried about the pain we can apply a numbing topical anesthetic skin cream that should be applied half an hour to an hour prior to the treatment. You will need to book ahead for this as we need to check your medical history and apply and cover it and please be aware that there is a minimal charge for this, that is not included in the overall price of the tattoo removal treatment.
How will my skin feel after the treatment?
For a few minutes after the treatment your skin will have a white blistered look. However this clears very quickly (within minutes). Then, your skin will look and feel as if it is sun-burnt. Like a sunburn, the pain and texture of the skin will clear up in a few days time. Small blisters are to be expected and as with all blisters, these should not be popped and be left alone. We will give you a suggestion for any over the counter skin irritation or pain medication if you need it.
Although rare, some patients will have slight bleeding after the laser treatment. We will clean and dress the affected area if this is the case.
How do I prepare for my laser tattoo removal treatment?
When you come in for your initial consultation, we will give you all of the necessary details about how to prepare your skin for your tattoo removal treatment.
You may start to apply sunscreen to your tattoo starting now. As it is very important to reduce the tan of the skin back to its normal color. So that means no tanning salons for you!