The reason tattoos are long-lasting is because the particles are too big for your body to absorb and clear out of its system. Laser tattoo removal works by sending specific wavelengths of light into the ink particles, which breaks them apart into much smaller particles. This allows your body to absorb the ink and remove them from your skin. The latest technology is picosecond lasers like PicoWay™ and PicoSure® use shorter pulses for even more versatile and effective results, and we use both of these advanced lasers at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta. With each tattoo removal treatment, more and more ink is broken down enough for your immune system to remove it safely and naturally.
The Tattoo Removal Process
Laser tattoo removal varies considerably from one patient to another (and from one tattoo to another), so our providers always begin with an in-person consultation. Your tattoo removal will depend on the size, location, and coloration of your tattoo, as well as how it was applied, the type of ink that was used, and other factors. At your consultation, one of our board-certified dermatologists or physician assistants will be able to evaluate your tattoo, design a course of treatment, and estimate the number of sessions you’ll need. They may also perform a “test spot” to see how your skin reacts to the laser.
Before your laser skin treatment, many patients choose to have a topical numbing cream applied to make the procedure more comfortable. Different lasers and settings are used to target different colors, so during your procedure, your provider will use the necessary laser(s) and slowly pass over your tattoo. For small tattoos, this can take just a matter of a few minutes, while larger tattoos will take longer.
When your treatment is completed, the provider will apply an ointment and dressing to help your skin heal. Your skin will probably feel sunburnt and sensitive, and you may have some other side effects as well like blistering, redness, and swelling, but this will generally fade within a few weeks.
The number of treatments you’ll need will vary, but they’re typically spaced 4-6 weeks apart, depending on how quickly your body responds. Keep in mind that some inks get darker before they fade, so you may notice this change in your earlier treatments.
Laser Tattoo Removal Results
Before laser tattoo removal, it’s important to look over before and after photos so you know what to expect. Not all tattoos can be completely removed, so you may have a slight “ghost” of the tattoo that remains, although for most patients, this subtle remaining ink is far preferable to the dark and noticeable tattoo they had before.
As with any medical or cosmetic procedure, there is a risk of side effects. For laser tattoo removal, these potential side effects include darkened or lightened skin around the treatment area (though this is usually temporary), scars, burns, and textural changes in the skin. These issues are rare when your treatments are performed by a qualified medical professional who is experienced in tattoo removal and is using up-to-date equipment, so our providers at DAA have the benefit of the most cutting-edge tattoo removal lasers, including PicoWay™ and PicoSure®.
Just as the choice to get a tattoo is a personal one, so is the choice to have it removed. Regardless of why you want to remove your tattoo, our providers at DAA can offer years (or in some cases decades) of experience, cutting-edge technology, and a caring touch. To find out more about what you can expect from your treatment process, schedule a laser tattoo removal consultation at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta.