Lately, the decision to obtain a tattoo has become increasingly popular, and so has the decision to remove them! An estimated 20 million Americans have tattoos, and many of them now feel that having a tattoo docs not fit their new image. Those remorseful about their tattoos are consulting with cosmetic laser physicians to determine if the removal of their tattoo is possible. Today's advanced laser technology provides the means for your tattoo to be removed safely and quickly and, in most cases, without leaving a scar.
How does the treatment work?
Today, cosmetic medical lasers designed to eradicate tattoos range from a single wavelength of light to a broad spectrum of light, the varieties of which are intended to obliterate the ink in the tattoo without damaging the skin. Certain colors of light are absorbed by specific corresponding colors of the tattoo ink. The light energy vaporizes or fragments the ink particles. Your body then absorbs these ink fragments naturally and the color fades over the next couple of weeks. This treatment is very similar to methods used for years to treat birthmarks.
What are other removal options?
Laser tattoo removal is the safest, quickest and most likely to leave your skin intact following treatment. Other treatment options are surgical excision, chemical peel and traditional dermabrasion. These various treatment options are invasive treatment methods and often result in scarring.
Are there any possible side effects?
Some patients experienced redness, swelling, tenderness, crusting, sunburn sensation, or itching immediately following treatment. Your treatment program will be discussed with you at the time of your consultation. If you experience anything different than what is discussed with you following your treatment, report back to the office for a follow-up visit.
What are treatments like?
First, the area to be treated is cleansed. Emitting laser or pulsed light, the laser hand device glides over the surface of the tattoo. The size and color of the tattoo determine the length of treatment time. A tattoo roughly the size of a quarter may take approximately 3 to 5 minutes to treat. Some patients request a topical anesthetic cream to be applied prior to treatment, minimizing the stinging effect of the laser or intense light. Many patients tolerate treatment without topical anesthetic, and report the treatment as feeling similar to no more than numerous rubber band snaps. Finally, an ointment and protective dressing are applied to keep the area moist.
How many treatments are required?
Size, color, locution and the age of the tattoo determine the number of treatments necessary to effectively complete removal. During the consultation, the tattoo you want treated will be examined and any questions you have will be answered. Be sure to contact your physician if you experience side effects not described during your consultation.
What results can I expect?
The results and appearance of the tattoo vary from patient to patient. After each treatment session you will see the tattoo become lighter. Due to the various levels of professionalism and types of inks used in tattooing, the results and the number of treatments may vary. Typically, multiple treatments will be required and are scheduled 4 to 8 weeks apart.
For more information:
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Dermatology Laser Center of San Diego
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