Laser Tattoo Removal
What is Laser Tattoo Removal?
We use the MedLite® C6 Q-switched Nd:YAG laser for our Laser Tattoo removal. The laser itself is a device, which is designed to produce a specific wavelength of light. It is by using specific wavelengths of light that are passed over the tattoo, into the skin and absorbed by the ink itself that gives us the desired lightening effect. The rapid absorption of light energy by the ink causes it to break into tiny particles, which is then removed by the body’s normal filtering systems.
With multiple wavelengths to choose from, your AFPLS Technician can use the optimum wavelength that passes into the skin that is absorbed by the specific colour of ink, customising the treatment for each patient and each individual tattoo.
Will I be left with a scar?
Ideally, laser tattoo removal will remove all evidence of the tattoo colour and image, leaving the skin as it was before the tattoo was placed, i.e. “normal”, with no mark whatsoever. While we always strive for this outcome, and use the most advanced laser technology available to achieve an optimal result, this may not occur.
After the tattoo is placed some mild scar can form in the skin. Also, any previous attempts of tattoo removal can leave marking in the skin, and years of sun exposure on the tattooed skin may alter the skin’s appearance. These changes may not be apparent while the colour of the tattoo is still present, but once the tattoo colour is gone, some of these minor variations in texture, colour, scaliness, ect, can become more noticeable and make the tattooed area appear different than the surrounding skin. In general, after the final laser procedure is completed, the treated skin usually looks much like the normal skin surrounding the spot. However, occasionally use of laser to remove the tattoo will leave a mark.
With each treatment some redness, bleeding, bruising, swelling, blistering and crusting is common, but wound infection is rare. Irregular pigmentation and mild texture changes can occur as a result of laser treatment, but these changes usually return back to “normal” over a few months. Rarely these changes are permanent. True scarring with the newest, most advanced lasers are rare.
How many laser tattoo removal sessions will I need?
We can only ESTIMATE the number of treatments it will take to completely remove the tattoo. This is because:
- The wide variation of inks and pigmented materials used for tattooing.
- The inks themselves are made up of a combination of different chemical substances.
- The amount of ink placed in the tattoo, as well as the depth of pigment placement varies from one tattoo to another.
- The ability of your white blood cells to “break down and remove” different pigment particles varies.
- Your healing response.
As a result of these many issues we cannot be absolutely certain how your particular tattoo will respond. Most “amateur or home-made” tattoos will generally require about 5-7 laser treatments. “Professional” tattoos and those done with harder inks, tend to be more variable in response, and average about 10-12+ laser treatments. Some stubborn tattoo inks may require even more treatments 15-20+. Some cosmetic tattoos on the lips and white or flesh coloured tattoos can undergo a dark brown or black colour change that may or may not fade in a couple of weeks.
While the most noticeable lightening of the tattoo usually occurs after the first treatment, continued lightening occurs with each subsequent treatment, although it may not be as easily seen. Before and after photos have been taken of many patients demonstrating that every patient will fade to some degree after every treatment.
Before starting each treatment session, we often compare the tattoo with the original photos (taken before the first treatment) to assess the amount of colour that has already been removed. With this information we can evaluate your progress and discuss the need for continued treatment. The decision to continue is always made jointly and made with a clear understanding of potential outcomes.
How long between laser tattoo removal treatments?
Through experience we have found that waiting longer in between treatments is more beneficial as the tattoo will continue to fade with time. It is preferable that you wait at least 8 – 12 weeks before your next laser tattoo removal session.
The laser treatment may create a superficial burn wound. There is immediate whitening (frosting) of the treated area, which lasts for several minutes. Patients may then develop blisters, crusts or scabs within 24-72 hours, which may last for 1-2 weeks. Some patients may experience bruising or swelling. Do not pick at the scab or allow the skin to become abraded, as this may result in infection and scarring. The treated area may be pink or pale after the scab separates. Loss of skin pigment in the treated area (usually temporary) is common. Complete healing is usually seen by 6-8 weeks.
We advise patients to protect the wound as you would any other minor burn for a few days. A dressing may help to protect the area and minimize further injury. Cold compresses and over the counter analgesics like Panadol and Neurofen, can be taken for minor discomfort during the first few days. Most patients are able to resume normal activity and work the same day. Showering and bathing are usually not a problem, but sun exposure should be avoided in the treated area. It is very important to follow our instructions carefully especially regarding the use of any medications or specific wound care that we may recommend.
For the next 5-7 days following treatment:
- Do not exfoliate or pick at skin
- Do not use products containing AHA’s, BHA’s, Vitamin A (Retinol), astringents or exfoliating granules
- Do not expose the skin to sun
- MUST apply a sunscreen daily
- Apply ice as required (skin is best to remain cool during this time)
- Avoid vigorous exercise, saunas, chlorinated and salt water pools, steam baths and hot showers for 48 hours following your treatment
- Avoid waxing, IPL, Laser or depilatory creams for 2 weeks following your treatment
- Avoid applying tanning products for 2 weeks following your treatment
- Apply a mild antiseptic or burns cream 2 x day
A quote of treatment price will be given to you at the time of consultation and is relevant to size of the tattoo. Costs given are for single sessions and include the cost of topical anesthesia, treatment and dressings. Prices start from $250.
If I am interested, what now?
If our Dermal Therapists decide that you are a suitable candidate for laser tattoo removal and you want to go ahead with the procedure, a booking for the tattoo removal surgery is scheduled. The usual waiting period is approximately three to four weeks.