Any number of celebs are editing and removing older tattoos. We thought you might like the lowdown on what you can expect if you follow suit.
What is tattoo ‘clearance’?
It’s generally accepted to be ‘clearance of 95 % of the pre-treated tattoo’. So when we say tattoo removal, we generally mean tattoo ‘clearance’. There are no devices available that record 100% clearance – and this is important to note. For many years, however the Q-switched laser has been the go-to technology.
Are there tattoos that resist clearance?
Certain colours are hard to clear. Black is easiest and the most common colour, however the dense tribal tattoo designs, whilst certainly black in colour, are very difficult to clear and will take more treatments than the non-dense variety.
There are 2 separate wavelengths produced in the clearance of tattoos by the Q-switched laser.
The 532 nanometre wavelength treats the red and orange targets in the skin. It is attracted to red and orange targets which includes ink, but can also include pigments such as age spots, freckles and sun spots.
The 1064 nanometre wavelength is a near-infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. This is the wavelength that treats the black and dark tattoo inks.
Before treatment starts
Protective goggles are required by the operator and client and the treatment room should not have any mirrors. If there is anyone with you, they have to wear the goggles as well.
The practitioner treating should also have training at least to ‘laser safety certification’ level, and in some states more certification is required by law. You may want to pay attention to this because many insurance companies have a strong opinion on the cover they offer non-trained staff. If that opinion extends to ‘no cover’ and a problem occurs, this is a detail you will want to have checked prior. So do your homework; you are very entitled to check the name of the certificates on the wall matches your operator.
Just like when you received your tattoo, the area will be cleaned before treatment and you may want to use a topical numbing crème for comfort. This can be purchased from a pharmacy without prescription. Other than that there is no specific preparation required.
There will be some inflammation after treatment. The treated area will also appear slightly raised – dress this area with a non-aqueous based, ointment and a flexi roll to protect for water, friction and injury.
Infrared red LED light for healing is recommended post treatment, at least weekly, to optimise the healing process, at least weekly to speed up the healing process.
When the surface layer is healing, and the dressing is removed, ensure you use a sun block to protect to healed skin.
This treatment will be uncomfortable – so prepare for that. A cooling device that blows cold air onto the skin during treatment will increase comfort. Numbing crème – apply 60 min prior and wrap in glad-wrap to infuse into the skin.
Number and frequency of treatments
Treatments 6 weeks apart – usually 6-8 sessions to clear a tattoo to 95%. Sometimes more depending on the colour, density and quality of the technology being used. Our trainers have indicated 6-8 is their usual program based on the Spectrum Nd;YAG.
Having treatments closer together won’t speed up the process. The lymph system, which actually clears the broken up ink particles, works on it’s own schedule and can’t be hurried no matter what the receptionist re-booking your appointment says.
The Q-switched laser is used for tattoo removal but also for nail fungus, dermal pigment and epidermal pigment.