Using a laser, most tattoos can be removed or modified with a number of safe, office treatments. Each treatment usually takes less than 10 minutes. We commonly remove entire tattoos or just parts of tattoos that patients wish to erase or change. Some patients have us remove a part of a tattoo that they intend to have the tattoo artist re-color or re-design.
Our patients want to remove or modify their tattoos for many different reasons. Some want parts of a tattoo removed to have it “done over”. Some want to forget the old boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse (as does the new spouse). Some do not want their children to see the tattoo. Some who are in business or other professions realize that their tattoo is just in the wrong place. Some just do not like their tattoo anymore.
Even before you get a tattoo you need to have a realistic idea about how easy or difficult it might be to remove or modify it. Here are a few pointers to consider:
- Alcohol or drugs and a decision to have a tattoo do not mix well.
- The time to get your first tattoo is not the night of your bachelor or bachelorette party. We commonly get emergency calls after these events. It cannot be removed before your wedding two days later. 3-6 months later most likely.
- Love is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately is not always forever. Please do not put your lover’s name on your body.
- Yellow, beige, white and flesh color are almost impossible to remove. Orange, turquoise and some greens can be very difficult to remove.
- Some of the newer dyes used for tattoos can make removal of any color a challenge. Make sure you know what is in the “ink” being placed permanently in your skin. Is it ink or toxic paint?
- The farther from the center of your body a tattoo lies, the harder it may be to remove.
- Ultimately the ability to remove a tattoo depends on your body. The lasers shatters the pigment. This stimulates your own white blood cells to enter the area to remove the pigment. Everyone’s white blood cells respond at different rates.
- The pigment from a tattoo can find its way to your lymph nodes over the course of years.
- Sometimes a tattoo cannot be completely removed.
- Think twice before you have a second tattoo placed over a tattoo you do not like. If you do not like the second tattoo, it will be probably be harder to remove than the original tattoo. Placing more ink into the skin makes the tattoo harder to remove. Consider a laser tattoo removal consultation on the original tattoo before you decide to cover it up. We see many patients each year who started out with a small tattoo that could probably have been removed or modified fairly easily with a laser and now have a very large, darker tattoo that is harder to remove.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Every medical laser emits a light of a characteristic color (wavelength), and the color of the light emitted from a laser determines which colors it can target. Each laser color has a specific “absorption spectrum”, the colors the laser will target the best. When the laser targets a color in a tattoo, it disrupts the pigment in the skin cells. This is a controlled thermal (heat) injury to specific pigments in the tissue. The PicoSure® takes this one step further. Because its pulse is so short, there is a sound wave in the tissue that further disrupts the pigment and shatters it smaller than previous lasers. The laser penetrates to the dermis, the second layer of your skin. The heat injury to the skin is equivalent to the depth of a second-degree burn, so the area will often blister. Your body responds by sending white bloods cells into the area that carry away the lasered debris and heal the area. It takes about 6 – 12 weeks to see the complete effect of a treatment. We can usually retreat at 6 – 8 week intervals if you wish. This interval allows the skin to heal effectively between treatments. This is important to avoiding unwanted scars. Laser tattoo removal can take many months or years to complete, depending on the complexity, colors and depth of the colors. It is not uncommon for patients to require 6-8 treatment sessions. During the first few treatments, we determine the most effective and safest dose of laser energy for your skin and your tattoo.
We cannot rush the treatment by just using very high energy levels. This could increase the risk of scarring.
What Does Tattoo Removal Cost?
Before treating your tattoo, Dr. Bentkover will see you in consultation to discuss how reasonable it may or may not be to treat your particular tattoo. We require a $100 consultation fee on a credit card or with a check to hold your appointment. The fee is applied to your treatment if you are treated that day.
Larger tattoos: a quote will be given at the consultation
Treatment packages are available with a 10% discount for each package of 4 treatments.
Remember, PicoSure® treatments generally are less in number. We do not charge extra to treat multiple colors.
What is the R-20 Tattoo Removal Laser?
R-20 means that we wait 20 minutes between treatments and treat more than once on the same day. There is good data to show that this can speed the clearing of the tattoo treated at 755nm in wavelength.
If we treat your tattoo twice (R-20 method) on the same day, it increases the price 30%. If we treat it three times the same day, it increases the price 40%
Risks of Tattoo Removal
While scars are possible, they are unusual. Most laser tattoo removal leaves behind normal looking skin. While scars are possible, they are unusual. That said, some areas of skin are more susceptible to healing with a scar than others. In some areas, like the small of the back, we have to go slower with the treatments to avoid scarring. If you have deeply pigmented skin, the laser may lighten the skin in the area. We are very precise in his treatments, but the spread of heat from the lasered area can sometimes lighten the skin around the tattoo. Also, the darker the tattoo, the more chance there is that the skin may heal a bit lighter (hypo-pigmented). Very dark tattoos that require many, many treatments can sometimes also leave behind skin that is a bit thinner. An incompletely removed tattoo can leave a ghost-like appearance, but sometimes this may be as good as you might expect. We have many very happy patients, but you must be realistic as you enter into treatment. At the time of your consultation, Dr. Bentkover will answer all your questions about the risks and likely outcome of laser treatments. He will tell you if he does not think the treatments will be worth the cost.