Laser tattoo removal is an exciting procedure for both patients and technicians alike, but few people understand the science behind the procedure. This section of our website is an introduction to the physics of laser tattoo removal and explains why laser tattoo removal is the most effective option for unwanted ink.
The Basic Laser Tattoo Removal Process
During a laser tattoo removal procedure, the technician guides a laser over the area of the tattoo.
Each pulse of energy penetrates the skin and is absorbed by the tattoo ink. As the tattoo ink particles absorb the energy, they heat up and then shatter into tiny fragments. Then, over the weeks following treatment, the body’s immune system flushes the tattoo ink particles away from the location, lightening the appearance of the tattoo. Each laser treatment breaks down more and more of the tattoo ink until none remains.
Letting the Body Do Its Work
Tattoo removal is not an instant fix – it’s usually a several month or even up to a 2-year commitment for patients. Most tattoos require between 6 - 12 treatments to achieve complete removal, and the treatments must be spaced at least 4 weeks apart because the body breaks down the ink for 30 days + the ink "moves" during that time. Patients often ask why tattoo removal requires so many treatments and why they have to wait between treatments. As a technician, it’s important to know the answers to these questions to provide an informative patient consultation.
Laser tattoo removal requires multiple treatments because not all of the tattoo ink can be shattered in one treatment session. When a tattoo is applied, the ink is injected at different depths within the dermis and it takes the body weeks to flush out the shattered ink before the next appointment (4-8 weeks later). So please, be patient - excellence requires patience!
Laser tattoo removal can only flush away the ink at a certain speed and your speed may vary from others. The better your immune system, the faster it will be flushed away.
Patients need to wait between treatments because it takes time for the body to flush away the shattered tattoo ink from the location of the tattoo. The process of flushing away the ink involves the immune system gradually removing the ink particles. Because the body can only flush away the ink at a certain speed, it’s beneficial to wait as long as possible between treatments to see maximum fading from each session. Also, the waiting period allows your body time to heal.
A Quick Discussion of the Alternatives
Laser tattoo removal is the only effective, non-invasive solution to unwanted ink. In decades past, people with unwanted tattoos had very few options – they could either undergo expensive excision surgery (which leaves a noticeable scar), use a damaging CO2 laser (which also leaves a large scar), or they would simply have to live with the tattoo.
Tattoos are popular, rates of tattoo regret are high, and laser tattoo removal is the only true solution to unwanted tattoos.
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