What is a tattoo?
A tattoo is a voluntary change made on the surface of the skin, usually by inserting ink into the dermis layer of the skin, changing its pigment. Based on the ink used, a tattoo can be done permanent (indelible ink) or temporary (lasting anywhere between hours to days).Tattoos are usually done for various reasons, but the most common reason is in memory of something. A tattoo is a conscious decision, often sought to make some event, place or person memorable.
What is the recommended treatment?
Laser tattoo removal is a solution for removing even those tattoos that are considered permanent. The ink particles in the tattoo are broken down using lasers. The ink that is broken down is then fought off by the immune system causing the tattoo to fade naturally like it would happen in case of sun exposure.
How do these lasers work?
Tattoos have evolved these days to include both black and white and colour variants. All tattoo pigments have specific light absorption spectra. A tattoo laser must emit adequate energy within the given absorption spectrum of the pigment for it to be effective. Black tattoo pigments that absorb all the laser wavelengths are easiest to treat, while yellows and fluorescent colours have high absorption rates, making them the most difficult to effectively treat. The modern inks with high concentration of titanium dioxide (a highly reflective substance) are difficult to remove because they are highly reflective and reflect a significant amount of incident light energy out of the skin. The laser treatment is the best non surgical treatment for tattoo removal because it can be changed to suit individual skin types. Before the advent of lasers, the scars obtained from the removal attempt of the tattoo sometimes became worse and more unsightly than the actual tattoo, completely disfiguring the skin. If the previous treatments did not result in excessive scarring and have not been effectively removed, the patients can opt for laser treatments even if the tattoo removal has been attempted using other methods. Lasers can remove both the tattoo itself and the accompanying mild scarring.
What is the treatment procedure?
A laser tattoo removal is a medical, non surgical technique, and must be done with a reputable dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon who specialises in tattoo removal because the skills required for removing chemical ink pigments from the body requires special training. The entire approach is different than other normal cosmetic treatments.
The treatment methods will vary from person to person, based on the age, skin type, size of tattoo and also depending on the original tattoo being done by a professional or amateur. The original colour of the skin and how deep the tattoo pigments are also play a role in choosing the right tattoo removal technique.
After preliminary analysis, the patient is settled down with the local anaesthetic and protective eye shields. Laser is tested on various settings on the tattooed area to determine the best energy level for the treatment. A hand piece is then placed against the skin’s surface and is activated by laser light. The pulses of lasers give a discomfort similar to a grease splatter. The larger the tattoo, the more the number of pulses and sittings required for tattoo removal.
What are the after effects?
Mainly because treatment of tattoos need many different pulses of lasers with varying intensities within the short space of the tattoo, the curing process might take longer than other skin treatments. The tattoo also does not disappear overnight. The body’s healing mechanism is needed to break it down naturally over a period of time.
The patient is also advised to keep the area of the tattoo clean and cold with ice packs and antibiotic cream or ointment.
If the tattoo is deeper or if the treatment was very intense, a bandage or patch is used to cover the area from sun and other elements.
Are the lasers safe?
Since traditional tattoo removal involves chemicals, there might be an increased risk of infection, and permanent scarring due to lack of complete pigment removal. The skin might also be prone to hypopigmentation and hyper pigmentation. But laser tattoo removal is one of the safest non surgical cosmetic procedures when compared to other traditional treatments such as excision or salabration – mainly because it can treat the selective pigments that are involved in the tattoo.
There may be side effects like swelling and sometimes uneven skin tones due to the various colour pigments in the tattoo and the process becomes slightly tedious and less successful if the tattoo is done by an amateur. Sometimes, especially in coloured tattoos, there might be a ghost image of tattoo which may remain, this will need to be treated with another type of laser.
Dr. Rinky Kapoor, co founder of The Esthetic Clinic in Mumbai, India is a Stanford trained consulting cosmetologist, trichologist and dermatologist. She has successfully performed many cosmetic surgeries that have earned her many awards including that of the best cosmetic surgeon in Mumbai, India from reputed organisations. She consults at the Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, India.
For more of your questions regarding laser tattoo removal please visit: http://skindoctorIndia.com/procedures-and-treatments/lasers/tattoo-removal/