Laser Tattoo Removal » Center of Surgeons

Laser Tattoo Removal

During the laser tattoo removal procedure, the practitioner directs a laser over the tattoo area.

Laser Tattoo Removal

During the laser tattoo removal procedure, the practitioner directs a laser over the tattoo area. Unlike a laser pointer, which produces a continuous beam of light, tattoo removal lasers produce pulses of light energy.

As the tattoo ink particles absorb the energy, they heat up and then break into small pieces. Then, over the weeks following treatment, the body’s immune system removes the tattoo ink particles from the area, brightening the tattoo’s appearance. Each laser treatment spoils most of the tattoo ink until none is left.

What is Q-Switching?

Q-switching is a special type of laser pulse generation. Q-switched lasers produce extremely powerful, short energy pulses that usually last only a few nanoseconds. This fast, intense pulse of energy is a big part of answering the question of how laser tattoo removal works.

Q-switched lTattoo ink particles are extremely small and therefore need to be heated for a very short time in order for them to heat up and explode.

In contrast, skin cells are much larger and need to be heated longer to be damaged. In essence, the shortness of the Q-switched laser pulse allows practitioners to selectively damage tattoo ink particles while leaving the surrounding skin intact.

Targeting Tattoo Ink

Different tattoo colors also absorb and reflect light of different wavelengths at different rates. For example, a red tattoo looks red because it absorbs green light and reflects red light.

Since the purpose of laser tattoo removal is to allow the tattoo ink to absorb the laser light, you want to make sure that the wavelength you use is well absorbed by the tattoo. Returning to the red tattoo example, it must be treated with green laser light, as red ink absorbs green light. The 532 nm wavelength of laser light appears visibly green, making it the ideal wavelength to use in red tattoo treatment.

Letting the Body Do Its Job

Tattoo removal is not an instant fix. It is usually a commitment of several months for patients. Most tattoos require 5 to 10 treatments to be completely removed, and treatments should be done at least 6 weeks apart.

When a tattoo is applied, ink is injected at different depths within the skin. After the laser light has cleared the upper ink layers, deeper layers can be processed. In fact, each successive tattoo removal affects deeper layers of ink until none remains.

Patients need to wait between treatments, as it takes time for the body to clear the fragmented tattoo ink from the tattoo site. Because the body can only clear ink at a certain rate, it’s helpful to wait as long as possible between treatments to see maximum fading in each session.