Tattoo removal is a fairly straightforward procedure these days. The treatments involve a quick session with a laser that involves some discomfort and aftercare, but there are variables that can make this treatment more or less effective, and the number of treatments required for adequate removal varies greatly as well. But what are the factors that affect the effectiveness of laser treatments? A lot of it has to do with the type of tattoo ink used and the colors involved with the design. Here are some things to know about tattoo inks that could affect the removal process.
The Basics of Tattoo Inks
Tattoo ink consists of two components: the pigment and the carrier. The pigment forms the basis of the color, and can be made from various materials, including heavy metals, rust, plastics, and resins. Other pigments that have been used include materials such as soot. Some pigment types are more difficult than others to remove (such as plastics), but are often used in modern inks, as they tend to be more vibrant than other pigments. Newer inks are therefore often less responsive to laser treatments.
The carrier is the fluid that helps keep the pigment free of pathogens and “carries” the pigment into the skin where it is intended. Carriers may be made up of water, alcohols, glycerin, and other substances. The carrier aids in keeping the color mixed and even while it is applied.
Regulations and Secrets
In the United States, tattoo inks are largely unregulated, which makes assessing the safety and persistence of various inks extremely difficult. Inks are classified as cosmetics or color additives, and manufacturers are not required to reveal their ingredients. This makes it easy for those who mix inks to keep their best secrets to themselves, but it gives the consumer very little to go on and can make tattoo inks dangerous. Other countries have stricter regulations, but finding out the ingredients of a particular ink in the United States can be a losing battle.
Tattoo Parlor Choices
Different parlors use various inks, and it can be difficult to know beforehand if the formula is difficult to remove. A few parlors make a special effort to use inks containing no animal products, as many inks contain bone char ingredients or resin from beetles. Naturally, it is possible to inquire about the inks used in each tattoo parlor, but manufacturer’s secrets may make getting answers difficult. Reputable tattoo parlors are the safest, but it’s not always possible to find out what is in a parlor’s inks.
It is well known that some colors are more difficult to remove than others. One reason is the composition of different colors of ink, as well as how these colors interact with the skin and the laser used for removal. The easiest color to remove is simple black, while greens and yellows are notoriously difficult to get satisfactory fading. A tattoo removal consultation helps clarify the improvement that is likely. The size and complexity of the tattoo also plays a big role in how well it can be removed.
More About Tattoo Removal
Tattoo ink is placed at the second layer of skin, the dermis, which allows the ink to experience minimal fading over a lifetime. In order to reach this layer for tattoo removal, a special laser must be used to break up the pigment. Once this pigment is broken up, the body slowly absorbs and destroys it over time. The process generally needs to be repeated several times, depending on the tattoo. Some tattoos need 10 or more treatments for satisfactory improvement. The skin requires some care following each session, and the area may look and feel sunburned.
Choosing a Provider
If you are looking for a tattoo removal specialist, you are going to need to do some research first. There is little more regulation on tattoo removal providers than there is on inks. It is best to have your treatments with a qualified plastic surgeon for best results and to reduce your chances for complications. Facial plastic surgeons tend to have experience with laser treatments, and it is important to choose an experienced, board certified specialist.
If you need assistance in the Boston area, come to New England Tattoo Removal at Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033), MA. Dr. Stuart Bentkover is a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in laser tattoo removal treatments. Dr. Bentkover has been helping patients get great results from tattoo removal for over 12 years. His newest laser is a state of the art machine that is much more effective than previous machines. Call either location today to schedule your consultation.