Tattoo Laser Removal Treatment
The art of tattoo dates back 5,000 years as verified through carbon images tapped into the skin of ancient Man's mummified remains. Tattoos were meant to be permanent. Thus, modern man's early attempts at tattoo removal were slow, painful and often imperfect. Abrasive, chemical, surgical, and thermal techniques are forever outmoded since laser treatments evolved to be the most effective of all tattoo removal methods in human history.
When Leon Goldman, MD, the father of lasers in Dermatology, spoke at the First International Lasers in Medicine and Surgery Conference in 1979, he began the phenomenal interest in laser tattoo removal methods. Initially, the argon laser and the carbon dioxide laser were the only instruments that could be used for tattoo removals. The units were large, expensive and required advanced training for physicians, along with operating room precautions to protect everyone's eyes, much like today's precautions. These two lasers are no longer used for tattoo removal due to their ineffectiveness as many treatments are needed, which raise costs.
The short wave nanosecond Q switch laser was introduced with improved results. In 1998, the picosecond pulse laser became available, which dramatically increased the speed of the treatment process with its exceptional particulate removal.
Currently, laser producers are developing superior lenses to focus the laser beam with varying spot sizes and adjustable wave lengths for removal of various tattoo pigments.
All of these innovations have given the laser dermatologist tattoo removal techniques undreamed of just a generation ago.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does laser removal of tattoos hurt?
A. Usually not. You will receive a local anesthetic before the laser treatment to prevent pain. If the area hurts when the anesthesia wears off, you can use an over-the-counter pain remedy such as Excedrin or Tylenol to control any further discomfort.
Q. What if the area becomes red and itchy?
A. If it itches, do not scratch! You can apply an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream. If the area continues to itch at night, take over-the-counter Benadryl.
Q. How often should I change the bandage?
A. Usually twice daily, in the morning and evening.
Q. How long will it take to heal?
A. Depending on the depth of the tattoo and the laser used, it usually takes a few days to heal over, but most people can return to work the next day.
Q. Will the treated skin be discolored after it heals?
A. Not usually, but avoid sun exposure to the area. If you must get sun, apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Q. Can I go to the gym or swim after the laser treatment?
A. It's best to wait a week or two or until the skin is completely healed.
Q. Should I have my tattoo removed in the winter or summer?
A. It can be done in any season, but winter is best because of tanning.
Q. What if I have a tan all year?
A. You will see changes in color at the tattoo removal site, at least temporarily.
Q. Will you examine my tattoo and make recommendations for its removal?
A. Certainly. Depending on its size, age, the area of skin it covers, and the ink pigments it
contains, I will make recommendations for the best laser(s) to remove your specific tattoo and refer you to a certified laser physician experienced in removing tattoos like yours.