In March’s first blog, we talked about laser tattoo removal using our powerful Spectrum laser at Beaty Facial Plastic Surgery. We got into the basics of how it works and who is a good candidate. Let’s get into it a little more in this post-Vernal Equinox blog from Dr. Beaty.
How many treatments will I need to completely remove my tattoo?
The number of sessions required for our lasers to remove your tattoo is based on a few things: size, color, type of ink used, and the age of the tattoo. Color is the main determinant, as is the density of that color. Different colors require different wavelengths. Black and red are the easiest colors to remove; turquoise is the most difficult single color to target. All tattoos have layers of ink that are stacked on top of each other within the skin. Shaded areas clear more quickly because those areas have a lower ink density. Older tattoos can be removed with fewer treatments than newer tattoos.
Once we see your tattoo, we can give you a better idea, but expect from 3-12 treatments to fully remove it. These treatments need to be spaced about seven weeks apart.
What can I expect during my laser tattoo removal session?
When you come in for your treatment, we’ll usually apply topical anesthetic. This needs 30-45 minutes to fully numb your skin. Next, we match the laser wavelength to the pigment in the tattoo. For instance, one session we may target all the black. Another it may be blue or red. Once the light wavelength is set, we give you a pair of protective eyeglasses and get to work. The laser delivers extremely short pulses (measured in billionths of a second) of energy through the handpiece as it is held close to the skin. We work our way across the outlines of the tattoo delivering repeated short pulses until the area is covered. The length of your appointment will depend on the size of the tattoo.
How do I care for my skin after my tattoo removal session?
After your session your treated area may seem as if it has a superficial burn. At first the tattoo will turn a frosty white color. This is caused by the release of carbon dioxide as the laser penetrates the skin. As mentioned above, you’ll probably want to ice the tattoo and take some Tylenol to sooth any discomfort. Don’t take aspirin, as it can cause bleeding. Within eight hours and continuing for the next three days the treated tattooed skin will begin to peel or blister. This usually isn’t dramatic, but it is important to not pick any scabs that form. This can cause scarring. You’ll need to keep the area covered with antibiotic cream and a bandage for the first 3 days. After that, you’ll keep the area clean and dry. In 1-2 weeks, all crusting and scabbing should fully resolve.
You can shower just a couple hours after your treatment but avoid water pressure directly on the tattoo. You won’t be able to soak the area until all scabs and blisters have completely healed. That means no baths, no hot tubs, and no swimming pools. This minimizes any risk of infection. You can exercise immediately, as long as you follow your skin care instructions. You’ll need to keep the tattoo area completely protected with SPF 25 or higher sunscreen for 3 months.
All of this is why you need to wait from 6-8 weeks between sessions.
Now you’re an expert at laser tattoo removal. So, are there more days than not that you rue your tattoo? We can help you get rid of it. Call us at Beaty Facial Plastic Surgery, (770) 753-0053, and let’s get started.