Saturday, August 11, 2012

Laser Tattoo Removal – A Safe and Effective Way to Remove Unwanted Tattoos

While tattoos are meant to be permanent, it often occurs that the same tattoo that used to excite us years back may not be appealing anymore and needs to be removed. It is estimated that as many as 50% of people with tattoos will want to have the tattoo removed later in their life.

Angelina Jolie had her " Billy Bob" tattoo removed and later replaced with
 the geographical coordinates of the birthplaces of her children. Laser tattoo removal is the preferred option when the couple split up.
Tattoo removal used to involve painful dermabrasion, salabrasion (scrubbing the skin with salt) and surgical excision of the tattoo. These older methods could leave horrendous scars but fortunately such drastic methods are no longer necessary. Laser tattoo removal was first introduced 20 years ago and has come a long way since.
How does laser tattoo removal work ?

A pigment laser (such as Q-switch Nd:YAG laser) removes tattoo by selectively breaking up the tattoo pigments with a high-intensity light beam. Pigments that are broken into smaller particles are then eliminated by the body's immune system.

Photo source : Bruce Saal, M.D, Los Gatos, CA
Clinical photos to demonstrate the efficacy of laser tattoo removal

How many sessions of laser tattoo removal treatment do I need ?

It is difficult to know exactly how many treatments will be required as the success of laser tattoo removal depends on factors such as tattoo size, colour, location and depth of ink. Black tattoo pigments absorb more laser energy, making it the easiest to treat. Generally, a small, black amateur tattoo can be removed in 1 to 2 treatments at 6 to 8 weeks apart but more treatment sessions are usually required for coloured tattoos.

Is laser tattoo removal painful ?

Topical anaesthetic agent is required for the procedure. The sensation of laser tattoo removal is similar to a hot pin repeatedly pricking the skin. Many patients feel that the procedure involves some degree of mild discomfort and is easier to tolerate than the tattooing itself.

What are the complications of laser tattoo removal ? Is it safe ?
In the hands of an experienced doctor, the risk associated with laser tattoo removal is minimal. Possible side effects include temporary darkening of the treated skin or the treated skin becomes lighter than the normal skin tone, incomplete removal of the tattoo and scarring.
As with other aesthetic procedures, the skill and expertise of the operator is crucial. Laser tattoo removal, which is otherwise a very safe option for tattoo removal, may prove to be harmful if not done by an experienced doctor.


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