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How Does Tattoo Removal Actually Work?

Getting a tattoo can be a meaningful and fun experience. Many who sport ink and intricate designs are proud of their body art, but you might feel that you had a lapse in judgment when you got your tattoo. If you regret a tattoo or are unhappy with the way it turned out, we can help with laser removal techniques. 

Rick K. Smith, MD, and our team of highly qualified professionals are prepared to address a pesky tattoo that doesn’t fit your current image. 

How does tattoo removal work? 

The tattoo removal process begins with a consultation during which Michelle Smith, RN BSN evaluates your tattoo and discusses the procedure in-depth. 

The laser energy is set to strike pigments that match your ink coloring exactly before being applied to the skin. The top layer of your skin absorbs pulses of high-intensity light that zap ink particles into much smaller pieces. 

The heat from the laser is responsible for splitting the particles, while the high speed keeps the area cool. The opposing heat and cold push the particles apart, allowing white blood cells to surround and absorb the pigment. A series of treatments will be necessary for the tattoo to fade and ultimately disappear entirely. 

A local anesthetic is provided for your comfort.   Most laser technicians do not offer local anesthetic so our office is unique in that aspect.  The procedure works to fade ink until it becomes unnoticeable, allowing you to regain the fresh canvas you've been hoping for or lightening the tattoo if you choose to have it covered with a new tattoo.

Factors that affect the tattoo removal process 

Ultimately, your body determines how long it takes for your tattoo to fade away completely.  Your age, the size and color of your tattoo, the length of time you have had the tattoo and your skin type are factors that affect your tattoo removal. You may need several sessions to achieve your desired results. 

For instance, black ink is the easiest to remove while blues, purples and greens take longer. Smaller tattoos may also require fewer laser pulses than larger ones. After each treatment, regardless of the size and color of your tattoo, it becomes progressively lighter. You should schedule your second session at least six weeks after the first one. 

Side effects and risk factors 

Side effects following your treatment are minimal, and there are a few ways you can ease any irritation. Use an ice pack to soothe the treated area if you are experiencing any redness or sensitivity. Covering the area with antibiotic cream and a bandage helps protect your skin. To avoid blistering or changes to your skin color, apply sunscreen to the area regularly once healed.

As it heals, the treated area begins to recover and return to normal. It is not common for the process to leave a scar if you adhere to aftercare instructions. Tattoo removal does not cause any new scars to appear, but many people are unaware that the original tattoo placement can be responsible for scarring. 

If you're considering tattoo removal as an option to remove unwanted ink, call our office or book an appointment using our online system. 

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