When it comes to laser tattoo removal, there are a lot of variables that together determine how effective the results of the process will be and how many treatments will be needed for satisfactory tattoo fading. Naturally, the size and complexity of the tattoo, as well as the type of ink used has an effect on how well the laser treatments will work. But the color itself plays a big role in the effectiveness of the treatment as well. Here are some things to consider when it comes to tattoo ink colors.
When it comes to tattoo inks, brighter colors are much more difficult to remove than black ink and similar dark colors. The lasers used in tattoo removal are advanced enough to have a variety of wavelengths, meant to target different types of pigment. However, certain colors like orange, red, yellow, and green are more difficult to target. White is often impossible to remove, and this pigment may even darken under the laser. The laser targets the ink pigment and breaks it up, leaving the body to slowly clear the ink over a matter of weeks. Newer inks can be more difficult to remove due to their formulations, but the type of ink itself is not something you will have control over.
The Easiest Tattoos
Not surprisingly, the easiest tattoos to remove are also those of the simplest designs in one or two easy-to-remove colors. Fortunately, many people elect to have tattoos inked in basic black ink. While it may seem counterintuitive that black India ink is the easiest to remove, lasers are very good at targeting this type of pigment. For people with simple tattoos like these, far fewer treatments are needed for good results, sometimes as few as two to four sessions.
The Most Difficult Tattoos
Naturally, larger, more complex tattoos with a number of different colors are the most difficult tattoos to remove. These tattoos can take over 10 treatments for satisfactory fading, and results are often dependent on the colors involved.
For some tattoos, it is not realistic to expect full removal, and some people elect to have only partial removal, either to erase a specific area of a complex tattoo, or with the intent of covering up the old tattoo with a new one. Patients should note that covering one tattoo with another makes good results for future removal unlikely. However, this method is sometimes a good option for some patients. A skilled provider will be very precise and can target specific portions of a tattoo.
How the Process Works
Tattoo removal is not a quick process, and those who wish to undergo treatment for a large, complicated, or brightly colored tattoo need to be committed to the process. It can take years of treatments to fade the tattoo. In some cases, it may not be possible to remove a tattoo to a satisfactory degree, even though new lasers are highly advanced and effective. Patients need to be realistic about their results and should be aware of the possible outcomes.
The treatments themselves are short, typically lasting under 10 minutes. However, some skin preparation is necessary—a topical anesthetic is applied about an hour before the procedure to make the process more comfortable. Many patients describe the sensation as similar to a series of snaps from a rubber band. After treatment, the skin will feel similar to the sensation of a bad sunburn, and the area may experience blistering or “pin point” bleeding. Patients should avoid travel for about 10 days following each treatment and protect the skin from the sun for several weeks following treatment. Treatments are spaced a few months apart. Improvement is gradual and takes several weeks following the procedure, while the body disposes of the tattoo ink.
Choosing a Provider
Though laser treatments are brief and do not require surgery, it is best to choose an experienced plastic surgeon for your tattoo removal. Required credentials for laser treatments such as these are often lax and vary greatly from state to state. In order to get the best results and help avoid complications, choose a board certified surgeon with expertise in laser treatments, like Dr. Stuart Bentkover of New England Tattoo Removal at Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery and Laser Center. Dr. Bentkover has decades of experience and is an expert in the art of tattoo removal. For more information and to schedule your consultation with Dr. Bentkover, contact his Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033) offices today.