Laser Tattoo Removal: The Procedure

By | January 30, 2014

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Approximately ten percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo and it is estimated that nearly sixty percent of those people will want to have laser tattoo removal at some point in the future. Laser tattoo removal offers a relatively safe procedure for removing unwanted tattoos, and although there are risks and no guarantee for complete success, it is better than living with a tattoo you hate or trying one of the more risky procedures.

In the past, tattoo removal has resulted in terrible scars that are often hated even more than the tattoo itself. Laser tattoo removal sometimes leaves no lasting effects, though sometimes the skin pigmentation is altered slightly, producing a patch of slightly lighter or darker skin than the rest of the body. Now, laser tattoo removal can work even for those who have tried unsuccessfully to have their tattoos removed in the past and the surgery isn’t nearly as expensive as it once was.

In some cases, laser tattoo removal requires more than one treatment to complete the job. This depends on the size of the tattoo, your skin type and the types of ink used on the tattoo. On average, most people require 2-4 sessions in order to completely remove the tattoo, but your doctor will be able to give you a more definitive estimate after your initial consultation. Each person will have a different treatment cycle depending on the aforementioned factors as well as the specific doctor who will be working on your tattoo.

Following is an explanation for the laser tattoo removal procedure:

1. Patients wear protective eye shields during the laser tattoo removal to protect them.
2. The doctor will test a sample area of skin with the laser to determine the energy level required to remove the tattoo.
3. After a hand piece is applied to the skin, the doctor will activate the laser and begin the tattoo removal process.
4. When the laser session is complete, the doctor will apply an ice pack to the skin.
5. Between treatments, the patient will need to apply a topical cream to keep the skin from becoming infected or irritated unnecessarily.

The only real side effect that is risked by laser tattoo removal is the possibility for infection. Make sure that you apply the prescribed cream and that you keep the tattoo area out of direct sunlight until the doctor tells you it’s okay. There may also be problems related to pigmentation or scarring, though these risks are much lower with laser tattoo removal than with other types of surgery.

In most cases, laser tattoo removal doesn’t require any form of anesthesia. Patients with extremely low thresholds for pain may be given a topical anesthetic or an injection around the tattoo area, but doctors prefer to avoid this. The pain associated with laser tattoo removal is negligible for most people; some patients describe it as the same feeling you get when you accidentally snap a rubber band against your skin.

While laser tattoo removal isn’t for everyone, it can certainly get rid of a tattoo you regret. To find out more about this procedure, or to find a physician that does it in your area, obtain a referral from your general practitioner.

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