One of the first questions asked about laser tattoo removal is: does the laser remove some colors better than others? The simple answer is, yes. However, color is only one factor affecting laser efficacy. At Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville in Jacksonville Beach, FL, we have compiled this list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to provide a full overview of tattoo removal considerations.
What Are the Hardest Colors to Remove With Laser Tattoo Removal?
If we only consider colors, black is the easiest color to remove because black ink pigment absorbs the laser best. Reds and darker blues and greens are more difficult. Lighter greens and blues are the most difficult. None of the factors discussed here make tattoo removal “impossible”. It simply means removing the tattoo is more complex and will likely take longer.
Newer tattoos are more difficult to remove than older ones and/or “stick and poke” (amateur) tattoos.
Smaller, Simpler Tattoos
Smaller, simpler, and less colorful tattoos are easier (and cheaper) to remove. The more complex your tattoo, the more time it takes to remove it. Great art takes time. It also takes time to disappear.
Darker skin absorbs more of the laser light, which can make removal more difficult. Removal goes more quickly when lasers are used on lighter skin tones.
Skin Color and Condition
Skin conditions, including eczema and herpes simplex viruses, can make tattoo removal more difficult. Consulting with your health care provider can help alleviate complicating medical conditions. Eczema creams can suppress topical symptoms and antivirals can prevent herpes flare-ups.
What Kinds of Lasers Are Best?
Experts in tattoo removal consider lasers the most effective (and cost-efficient) method.
Most clinics use a “Q-switched” (sometimes called a “Q-pulsed”) laser that emits rapid-fire pulses of high-energy light rather than a single, steady beam. Pulsing allows a much stronger beam to penetrate to the ink layer without damaging the skin. The laser’s energy heats up the ink itself, allowing your skin’s natural healing process to dissolve it.
Though Q-switched lasers were a major advancement in laser tattoo removal, they typically work best at the darker end of the ink color spectrum: blacks, reds, and dark blues/greens. They are less effective on lighter colors, especially blues and greens. This is why Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville employs a spectrum of laser tattoo removal technologies.
New-Generation Picosecond Laser
Enlighten, a new generation of picosecond laser, refines the capabilities of earlier pigmentation removal lasers by employing dual wavelengths and dual pulse durations. This provides more precise laser control and the ability to target inksin a way that can halve the time it would take a Q-switched laser to complete the removal. Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville is Florida’s first with this technology and one of just a few practices in the country qualified to employ it.
PicoSure for Greens, Teals, and Blues
PicoSure delivers the laser’s energy in trillionth-of-a-second pulses. This is particularly effective at targeting the problem colors of other laser treatments, like greens, teals, and blues. The energy delivered through the PicoSure treatment shatters these ink particles, letting the body’s natural healing process disburse them from your skin.
Alex TriVantage Dual-Wavelength for Darker Skin Tones
Alex TriVantage, a dual-wavelength version of the Q-switched laser, treats a wider spectrum of ink colors than traditional Q-switched systems. The Alex TriVantage is also suitable for a wider variety of skin types, which allows technicians to tune treatment plans for individual skin pigmentation and sensitivities, among other factors.
The DeScribe PFD Patch
The DeScribe PFD Patch is a silicone sheet infused with perfluorodecalin (PFD), which reduces laser light scattering and draws heat away from the skin. This FDA-cleared patch is placed onto the skin during laser tattoo removal treatment. This increases the patient’s comfort during the treatment process while allowing additional passes with the laser during a single session.
DeScribe Clinical Trials
A recent clinical trial indicates that patients experienced faster post-treatment healing when the patch was used. 100% of subjects responded that they would choose to employ the patch given the option. Many consider the DeScribe PFD Patch to be the biggest advance in tattoo removal technology since the advent of the Q-switched laser.
Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville is one of the only practices in the Jacksonville area to employ the DeScribe Patch and would love to include a discussion of its possible use in your treatments.
Will Laser Methods Completely Remove My Tattoo?
Results depend on a number of factors:
Simple Tattoos vs. Complex, Colorful Tattoos
The smaller and simpler your tattoo, the easier it is to remove. On the other hand, larger tattoos, intricate designs, and a wider spectrum of colors are more time consuming and difficult for the technician to completely eliminate. The most difficult tattoos to remove will lighten or fade to limited noticeability rather than completely disappear.
Considering Skin Tone
The lighter your skin, the easier it is to remove a tattoo. Darker skin directly absorbs more of the laser energy, which can interfere with laser effectiveness and affect skin tone in the treated area. Experienced technicians will use different types of removal lasers tuned to your skin tone.
Older Tattoos Are Partway There
The older and more faded your tattoo is, the more effectively it can be removed. With newer tattoos, your skin has done less natural absorbing of the ink, so more ink has to be removed via laser treatment. Older tattoos behave almost like they have already had a few treatments.
Only A Professional Can Provide a Real Prognosis
We recommend choosing a reputable firm for tattoo removal and having a technician assess your tattoo to gauge your expectations. Most will provide a free assessment of your tattoo and an estimate as to the number of treatments required, the timeframe, and the cost.
What Is the Removal Experience Like?
Laser removal can be done by an aesthetic clinic. The laser technician applies a local anesthetic to numb the area to which the laser will be applied. The process is relatively non-invasive, and most patients report virtually no pain. The technician will apply the proper laser directly to your skin to heat the ink in your tattoo, which breaks it up and causes your skin to absorb it via its natural healing process.
Your technician will instruct you on post-treatment care of the treated area. This usually involves applying an antibacterial ointment for several days and re-bandaging the area to protect the area from infection.
What Are the Post-Laser Treatment Do’s and Don’ts?
Because each individual’s skin and tattoos are different, your between/post-treatment routine may require variations on these recommendations. Your treatment team will provide you with personalized specifics, but the major recommendations are:
- Apply any ointments and/or bandages according to technician instructions
- Keep the tattooed area clean and dry
- Avoid tight clothing or anything that rubs against the area.
- Shield the treated area from direct sunlight
- To avoid scarring, avoid touching, scratching, or picking at the treated area
How Many Treatment Sessions Are Required?
Treatments are usually scheduled six to eight weeks apart to allow your skin to absorb the ink. At subsequent treatments, you and your technician will gauge how much the tattoo has faded and plan for additional sessions as needed. Though it varies by individual and tattoo complexity, most removals require six to eight sessions.
What Does Laser Removal Cost?
Cost varies depending on the age, size, intricacy, and the colors in your tattoo. Our experienced laser technicians can review your tattoo and give you an estimate based on these factors. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not cover tattoo removal because it is considered a cosmetic procedure.
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Compare to Other Methods?
While laser removal is the most popular and least expensive method of removal, there are two other removal procedures to compare it with: surgical removal and dermabrasion. Major comparison factors include:
- How completely the tattoo needs to be removed
- Skin conditions complicating certain removal methods
- The size and location of the tattoo
- Age of the tattoo
- Design intricacy/colors of the tattoo
What Is Surgical Removal?
Sometimes referred to as “excision” removal, this involves surgically cutting off the tattooed skin and suturing together the remaining skin. It is the most invasive removal method and tends to leave a noticeable scar, but is also the only method that completely removes the tattoo. It is generally recommended only for small tattoos.
Surgical Removal Timeframe and Cost
The procedure is typically done in a single procedure that can take several hours. It usually takes several weeks to heal post-surgery. Surgical removal typically costs less than laser removal or dermabrasion. Depending on the size and location of the tattoo, it can run between $150 and $350. Because it is a cosmetic procedure, insurance generally does not cover it.
What Is Dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion is literally using a medical sanding device to remove skin layers, which allows the tattoo ink to leach out of the skin. It is a less common option as its effectiveness varies widely from individual to individual. In some cases, it can remove most of a tattoo.
Skin Tone and Pigmentation Limit Dermabrasion
People with skin conditions such as eczema, or sensitive skin should avoid dermabrasion. Those taking blood thinners should avoid dermabrasion. People with darker skin can experience pigment changes in the abraded area.
Dermabrasion Removal Timeframe and Cost
The cost of dermabrasion depends on the size and color intricacy of the tattoo. It is typically done in a single session but can take longer for larger and more colorful tattoos. Recovery takes up to three weeks, and the treated area can return to normal within 12 weeks of the procedure.
Can I Get a No-Cost/No-Obligation Tattoo Removal Consultation?
Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville invites you to visit for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your tattoo(s). We believe our professionals’ expertise, our spectrum of removal tools, and the comfort/privacy of our clinic set us apart. The only requirement is that you visit our offices so we can gauge the specifics of your tattoo’s colors, complexity, and your individual skin factors. Then we can tell you exactly what to expect! Please contact Laser Skin Solutions Jacksonville in Jacksonville Beach, FL today to learn more or get started.