Tattoo Removal FAQ
Lasers do not remove tattoos, your body does. Naturally. We use PicoSure Laser technology to help. During treatments with PicoSure, PressureWave technology is used to deliver ultra-short pulses of specialized energy to targeted ink particles. By delivering the ideal energy to the skin, PicoSure efficiently shatters tattoo ink and allows your body to remove it naturally.
As the light energy is directed into your skin, it is selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink particles trapped in the dermis of your skin. When the ink particles absorb this energy, they instantly shatter into tiny fragments. Once the laser has broken the ink into smaller pieces, your body’s immune system works to remove the ink over the following weeks, flushing it away from the tattooed area. We see the result of this as the tattoo lightening in appearance. Each additional laser treatment breaks down more and more ink until the tattoo can no longer be seen.
The cost depends on a variety of factors including:
- Size of the tattoo ink you wish to remove
- The density of the ink
- Color of the tattoo
- Quality of the ink used in the tattoo
- Location of the tattoo
- Your health
- Your skin type
Here’s what we can tell you: The average laser tattoo removal cost ranges from $175 to $700 per treatment session, and your body needs time to heal between sessions. So the financial investment happens over a period of time.
Since laser tattoo removal will take several treatments to complete, the total cost could be as little as $1,000 or as high as $10,000. Your best first step to determine the price of your tattoo removal is to schedule a free consultation so we can take a look at specific details of your tattoo.
It’s not unusual for the body to take more than a year to completely eliminate the tattoo. There are a couple of factors that impact the process:
- Your body’s ability to eliminate ink from the skin through your immune system
- How fast your skin heals between treatments
We recommend a minimum of six weeks or eight weeks between laser sessions.
Treatments range with patients based on a variety of factors.
- Your skin type
- Ink type
- Location on the body
- Ink colors
- Amount of ink
- Pre-existing scarring
It is best to have your tattoo reviewed in person to get an accurate indication of how many treatments it will take. Most patients will need between 6 and 8 treatments, some will see complete removal in 3 or 4, and others may need 10 or more treatments if there is significant scarring or layered tattoos or colored inks.
Laser tattoo removal typically does involve some level of pain. That said, many say that it hurts less than they expected. (Lidocaine is included but will need to sit in the office at least 20 minutes before the treatment procedure.)
Patients say that the sensation of removal is comparable to having a tattoo applied. Common descriptions include the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin or bacon grease – basically, it’s uncomfortable but bearable.
Side effects are to be an expected part of the tattoo removal process for most patients. Some side effects are an essential part of the immune response that helps eliminate ink from the skin.
The most common side effects are:
If all of the proper protocols are used based on the tattoo and the patient’s skin tone, all of these side effects are temporary.
Redness, tenderness, and swelling typically subside within a day or two following treatment. Blisters usually appear within 24 hours of treatment; sometimes the blisters are very large and may look alarming – this is completely normal. Scabs, bruising, and blistering may take up to a week or longer to heal.
Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation occur when the body’s production of melanin is skewed after a laser treatment. With hyperpigmentation, the body overproduces melanin in reaction to the laser treatment, so skin in the treated area is darker than the natural skin tone. With hypopigmentation, the melanin is depleted by the laser treatment and the skin appears bleached. Both hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are typically temporary and resolve naturally with time. Patients with middle to darker skin tones are at the greatest risk for pigmentation changes and should avoid sun exposure the weeks following each treatment.
No. We have seen no evidence that “magic creams” help to fade tattoos. At best, they may act as a mild skin bleach to lighten the surrounding skin. Looking at the ingredients and components of such products makes one wonder how they would purportedly remove tattoo ink. The medical community agrees with us — these creams are a gimmick and a waste of time and money. Injection methods of tattoo removal are even worse because they inject highly-damaging acid into the skin.
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Preparing for your light-based tattoo removal at Optimal Medical Group
- During the process of removing your tattoo, you must keep the tattoo area protected from the sun. This means, no sun exposure, tanning beds or sunless tanning cream for four weeks before treatment. Why? Sun exposure decreases the effectiveness of laser treatment and can increase the chance of posttreatment complications.
- If you must be in the sun, keep your tattoo covered well with broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. Apply to the treated area every 2 hours.
- Remove all makeup, creams or oils before treatment.
- Apply a thick layer of 4% Lidocaine cream on the tattoo at least 2 hours before treatment.
How to Care for the Treated Area at Home
Instructions following your laser treatment for Tattoo Removal
- Clean area daily with mild soap and water then pat dry.
- After cleansing and while skin is still moist, apply a thin layer of Aquphor® or Neosporin® ointment to the treated tattoo.
- Apply a non-stick pad over the tattoo until it is healed.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treated area.
- If you must be in the sun, use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. Apply to the treated area every 2 hours when exposed to the sun. This should be a part of your skincare routine.
- Do not rub or scratch the area.
- Discomfort may be relieved by using cool gel packs or acetaminophen.
- If blistering occurs, keep the area moist by applying Aquaphor® or Neosporin® three times per day or antibiotic ointment per the recommendation of the physician.
- If you develop blisters after treatment, you can either leave it alone or use something sterile to pop the blisters but you must leave the skin from the blister to prevent scarring.
- No swimming or using hot tubs for two weeks after treatment.