Video:See a Tattoo Laser Removalwith Michael Silbert, M.D.
Tattoo laser removal is becoming more and more popular with those who regret getting inked back in their wild and young days. Take a close up look at tattoo laser removal technology, and know what to expect if you want to get rid of yours.See Transcript
Transcript:See a Tattoo Laser RemovalHi! My name is Michael Silbert, M.D., this is for About.com. We are here to present information about laser tattoo removal and what to expect when you have it done.
Pre-Tattoo Laser Removal TreatmentWe've treated this one time - you can see the little fish-scale appearance, where the laser energy is absorbed by the ink, and it fragments the ink and later particles are picked up by the microphages in the body and take to the lymph system for excretion.
Tattoo Laser Removal TechnologyWe have two wavelengths on this machine: 1062 nanometers and 532, which is exactly half. The 532 is for the red areas, red inks and some tans and browns. The long wavelength effectively treats the dark blue and black inks. We're going to start with the long wavelength and treat the dark color.
Removing the TattooOkay, the machine will make a noise. We try to get a little overlap of the spot - this particular one is a three-millimeter spot. Usually we'll go over this one or two times with this three-millimeter spot, and then the remaining dye will be treated with a smaller spot for higher energy.
Pain and Laser Tattoo Removal"How's that feel?" "Not too bad." Some people say it feels like rubber bands, some say it feels like the original tattoo. I've hated this tattoo since the day I got it.
Tattoo Laser Removal AftercareThe superficial skin cells get a little bit of a char, and that comes off, usually in half an hour, 45 minutes. We usually like to wait two and a half to three weeks for it to be completely healed. This, in effect, is like a sunburn. The higher energy you get, the more damage potentially you can cause to the skin, and you don't want to have scarring that will interfere with the next treatment. Something like this would require multiple treatments - maybe three to four, possibly five. This will also affect the melanin in the skin - most of the melanocytes will come back, but you might be left with a lighter area.
Caring for a Tattoo After the Laser TreatmentThings to watch out for, definitely contraindications to the system are any active lesions; we try to stay away from any moles, and there are some people that seem to be reactors - they're very fair, pale people, who have trouble with sun poisoning. They seem to release histamine and get large welts and an exaggerated response.
Treat it like a sunburn - we'll put on these little burn pads that have a hydrogel of pure water, no medication that evaporates and cools the area. Avoid more heat and sun exposure, and it will gradually heal in two to three weeks. If it does get red, we'll use some antibiotic ointment and just treat it like a mild burn. Certainly if it gets worse, it needs to be checked, and more measures taken.
Thanks for watching - to learn more, this is on the Web at About.com.