Laser tattoo removal has become a safe, effective, and accessible option for removing tattoos without scarring or excessive pain. The process can take many treatments over several months, but it is generally a great way to fade or completely remove unwanted tattoos. Unfortunately, not all skin types react the same to cosmetic treatments. As anyone who has tried to pursue laser treatments knows, resurfacing and other procedures can produce great results, but can also have the issue of causing issues in darker skin. So is tattoo removal an exception? Can laser treatments work for people with darker skin?
Hyper or Hypo-pigmentation and Laser Treatments
The main concerns for people with dark skin undergoing laser treatments are typically pigmentation issues known as hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. These occur when the skin produces too much or too little pigment, causing darkening/lightening of the treated area and resulting in an uneven skin tone. This used to be a huge problem for dark-skinned patients, but advances and technology and technique have opened up more laser treatment options, including tattoo removal.
Is Tattoo Removal Safe?
There are several factors that go into the safety and effectiveness of laser tattoo removal for people with dark skin. The treatment is generally very safe, but there are various facets to the process, and it’s important to understand the facts about tattoo removal before you move forward. Remember, only a qualified tattoo removal specialist can assess your candidacy for the treatment.
Today, gentle lasers are used to help protect the skin while working to effectively eliminate pigment. New lasers like the Revilite SI® Q-Switched Laser should be safe for even dark skin, provided the person performing the treatment is highly skilled and experienced. The laser works by breaking up pigment in the skin, which is then absorbed by the body over several weeks. The treatment is repeated every six to eight weeks until satisfactory results have been reached or no further improvement can be made. Modern lasers only penetrate upper layers of skin, resulting in less trauma to the area. This makes for a more comfortable treatment process and reduces the risk for complications.
Technique goes a long way toward making any cosmetic procedure successful. Laser treatments are a very precise art, but are often not well-regulated. This means that the patient needs to put in careful research in order to choose a highly trained specialists and help ensure a good outcome.
Black ink is the simplest color to remove with laser tattoo treatments, and while it is certainly possible to treat other colors, some inks may be more difficult to remove, encourage complications, or simply never fade entirely. Tattoo inks are not FDA controlled, so it can be difficult to tell how easy a design will be to remove before beginning treatment.
Hypertrophic and Keloid Scarring
People with dark skin, particularly African-Americans, tend to have a higher incidence of abnormal scars, which are usually thick, raised scars (hypertrophic)or smooth, firm growths on existing scars (keloids) that can be caused by any trauma, injury, or cut to the skin. People who have a tendency to form keloid or hypertrophic scars should be cautious about undergoing laser tattoo removal, as the mild injury to the skin that is necessary to remove the tattoo can cause these types of scarring to form. A qualified provider can help you assess your candidacy.
Maximizing Your Chances for Success
While you should be able to undergo laser tattoo removal even if you have dark skin pigment, it is important to realize that there are always small risks associated with the treatment. To maximize your chances for success, you should make sure to choose an experienced provider who has worked with all different skin types and be sure to follow all of his or her instructions regarding pre and post treatment care.
Choose an Expert
It is always best to be on the safe side when it comes to your health, which is why it is recommended that you choose an experienced plastic surgeon with expertise in tattoo removal to perform your treatment, particularly if you have dark skin. There are many clinics open these days that focus solely on the practice of tattoo removal, but these clinic’s technicians may not have training that is up to standard.
By choosing a board certified plastic surgeon with a good reputation, you can minimize your chances for complications such as scarring and pigmentation problems, and help ensure you get a good outcome. For the most experienced care in the Boston area, come to Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery & Laser Center in Worcester(508-363-6500) or Stoneham(617-247-0033), MA to meet with acclaimed surgeon Dr. Stuart Bentkover. Dr. Bentkover is a highly skilled laser treatment provider and is standing by to help you erase the past. Call either location today to schedule your consultation.