Getting a tattoo can be a life-changing moment for many people. Unfortunately, it’s often a step that they later regret. Whether it’s due to a change in relationship status, life stage, skin texture, or simply aesthetic preferences, many people eventually wish to remove one or more of their tattoos and are surprised to find out just how achievable this goal really is. However, try to avoid making a second mistake by simply choosing a laser treatment based on cost. We re-treat many tattoos that have been ineffectively treated with lower powered lasers at lower cost. You don’t want to be disappointed twice.
Laser tattoo removal is one of the most popular and effective skin procedures on the market today. At our Worcester office, we feature the Cynosure PicoSure® laser to provide tattoo modification or removal anywhere on the body. This service is a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure that uses a specially targeted laser to gradually break down the pigments in a tattoo, aimed at eventually removing the tattoo entirely. Dr. Bentkover, the most experienced tattoo removal physician in Worcester and all of central Massachusetts, has been performing tattoo removal services for over 15 years.
How Many Laser Tattoo Removal Treatments Will I Need?
The number of sessions that you will need depends on the size of the tattoo, density of the ink, type of ink used and distance from your heart.
The PicoSure® laser is the fastest laser available for removing tattoos. Amateur tattoos can take as few as 4 sessions, but professionally-done tattoos generally take anywhere from 4-8 treatments. In some particularly difficult cases, it can take even more. If you only want the tattoo to be lightened so that it can be modified or covered, it may take fewer sessions. In general, the PicoSure® removes tattoos in 1/2 the time as even the best Q-switched lasers like the Revlite SI®.
For most patients, laser tattoo removal treatments should be spaced at least six weeks apart, with spacing as wide as twelve weeks in certain cases. Since the laser causes lasting fading that will increase between treatments, spacing the treatments farther apart can result in better results from each individual session. That can mean that you will need fewer sessions overall if you’re willing to wait longer between them, which saves you both money and discomfort.
How does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?
The PicoSure® laser fragments the ink into minute particles that can be removed by your while blood cells. The PicoSure® laser fragments are much smaller because the pulses are so much shorter. Some of the ink is then shed from the surface along with skin cells, but much of the displaced ink remains temporarily in the body to be removed later by the lymphatic system as part of the healing process.
When you come in for your first treatment, the laser will be tested against your skin to determine the most effective settings for the rest of your treatment. You’ll be given a topical numbing cream as well as ice and eye protection to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. A hand piece will be gradually moved across the surface of the tattoo to administer the laser energy, which will be delivered in very short pulses to break down the dye under your skin while causing minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.
Once the entire tattoo has been treated, the session will be over. A Tegaderm™ bandage will be put in place before you leave the office. We like this to stay on for three to five days. Ice 20 minutes each hour, the Tegaderm™ and over counter pain medications should keep discomfort to a minimum. Blisters are common with this laser.
For some patients, the skin will become whiter for several days after the session, and the tattoo should continue to visually fade between sessions.
Recovery after Laser Tattoo Removal Treatments
This is a medical treatment, and we take wound care very seriously. Unlicensed personnel who are not supervised by a physician should not perform the treatment. You will be given a prescription for a cream called Silvadene®. This is a burn cream; the treatment goes as deep as a second degree burn, because that is where the pigment resides in your skin. Blistering with the PicoSure® is common. If there is any blistering, we like you to apply this cream to the entire tattoo three times daily until the wound is dry. The post treatment pain is like a bad sunburn and is usually effectively treated with Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil®) and an ice pack. Please do not plan to be away on vacation for 10 days after a treatment, and please refrain from strenuous physical activity at least until the lasered area is dry. You can expect to start seeing some clearing of the area treated about 1-4 weeks after the treatment. You must protect the lasered area from the sun. Sun exposure can lead to hyper pigmentation (increased brown skin pigment) in the treated area.
Ready for your first consultation? Contact our office today!