We all have parts of our bodies that make us feel self-conscious; one of the most common being an old tattoo that no longer suits you. Whether it’s an ex’s name, a tribute to something you no longer value, or just a poorly done tattoo, laser tattoo removal is the best way to get rid of your unwanted ink and move on with your life. Still Waters Day & Medical Spa, located in Pensacola, FL, is the perfect place to do this in a luxurious spa environment.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Laser removal is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of your old tattoos and unwanted ink. And the process of how it works is extremely interesting, too! During a laser removal treatment, the practitioner will guide the laser over the area of skin that holds the unwanted tattoo. Normally, when we think of a laser, we think of a laser pointer that produces a continuous beam of light. The lasers used for laser removal, however, are far more advanced.
Rather than producing a continuous beam of light, these lasers produce pulses of light energy. Each pulse of light energy from the laser penetrates the surface of the skin and is absorbed by the tattoo ink, where the light energy is converted to heat energy. The pulsing of these lasers is important for a couple of reasons.
Ink particles of tattoos are far smaller than your skin cells. The nanosecond of light energy from each pulse is enough to shatter an ink particle but so short that it doesn’t do any damage to the surrounding skin cells. The brevity of the pulse also helps the ink particle shatter. The pulse isn’t enough to actually heat up the entire ink particle; rather, it only heats up part of it. Then, the opposing hot and cool forces shatter the ink particle.
At Still Waters Day & Medical Spa, we use one of the most advanced laser removal machines available: the PiQo4. One reason that this laser is so effective is that it uses both nanosecond and picosecond laser pulses. The nanosecond pulses are used first; they deliver short bursts of energy to break down ink particles that are larger and might have a deeper pigment.
Afterward, the area is rescanned uses picosecond pulses that break apart the smaller and shallower ink particles. Using the nanosecond pulses is comparable from turning rocks to pebbles, and the picosecond pulses then break those pebbles into sand. The combination of these laser pulses available from the PiQo4 makes this laser far more effective than its competitors, and that’s why we choose it to help you get rid of your unwanted ink.
Because it is so effective at breaking up already shattered ink particles to even smaller particles, your skin clears faster, and you will require fewer treatments. The name PiQo4 is an acronym for features and capabilities of this laser.
This is short for a picosecond, which is one-billionth of a second. This indicates that this laser is capable of firing laser pulses in picoseconds.
This is short for Q-switched. Q-switched lasers are used in laser removal treatment because it is able to modulate the laser to produce nanosecond laser pulses. A nanosecond is one-millionth of a second. Some Q-switched lasers, such as this one, have the flexibility to fire either nanosecond or picosecond pulses. This ability improves the effectiveness of the laser for getting rid of unwanted tattoos.
This number clarifies that the PiQo4 produces 4 different wavelengths of laser light, each to treat different color tattoos as well as certain skin types or concerns.
Working With the Wavelengths
To get rid of different colors of ink, you need to be able to target the ink using different wavelengths of light. The goal of laser removal is to have the ink absorb the light energy. To do that, you must be able to adjust the wavelengths of the light.
We all learned the basics of light wavelengths in primary school. When white light enters a prism, it splits into all the colors of the rainbow. And when we see an object that visually appears green or another color, it isn’t because the object actually is green. It’s because when white light is shined on the green object, that object absorbs all the wavelengths of color included in white light, except for green, which it reflects. This makes it appear green.
So, if you’re trying to get rid of a green-colored tattoo, you can’t use a laser that is visibly green, because the ink won’t absorb it. You need to work with the right wavelength. The PiQo4 laser we use is the best option for getting rid of the most popular pigment colors for tattoo ink. It offers four wavelengths: 1064nm, 532nm, 650nm, and 585nm. Together, these four wavelengths work to effectively target the nine most frequently used tattoo colors.
Letting the Body Work
While it might seem like all the hard work is done by lasers, your body actually does most of the work in laser removal. Our immune systems work to remove foreign invaders from the body. When you have a tattoo that has not yet had laser removal, the tattoo particles are far too large for the immune system’s phagocytic cells to deal with.
But once the ink particles have been shattered, the fragments are small enough for the immune system to move away from the tattoo site and to the lymph nodes so they can be flushed from the body. And because we use the PiQo4 laser, rather than other lasers, this process happens much more quickly, because we are able to break ink particles into much smaller fragments than other lasers.
Methods of Removal
If you want to get an old tattoo removed, laser removal is the way to go. While there are other ways to remove tattoos, they aren’t nearly as effective, and they have major downsides.
This method of removal uses a medical grinding tool that abrades the outer layers of the skin, or epidermis, in a controlled manner. The tool removes the layers of skin that contain the ink particles and allows the ink to leech out, resulting in a removal of the tattoo. Dermabrasion results in an open wound that needs aftercare. The wound from dermabrasion takes a while to heal: generally about two weeks.
Because of the nature of this procedure, it can be quite painful, especially because it leaves an open wound. And because it results in an open wound, it often results in significant scarring. Like laser removal, it’s necessary to have several sessions of dermabrasion. Yet, it still is not very effective, and therefore not a common choice.
Another method of removal is the use of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels. TCA is a mild acid that can be applied to the skin, removing the outer layers of the skin and the tattoo ink held there. Like dermabrasion, this treatment results in an open wound, but this wound heals much more quickly, in only about a week’s time. It also needs to be repeated multiple times to see any significant fading of the tattoo, making it an uncommon choice.
Another way to get rid of that old tattoo is through surgically removing the skin on which the tattoo resides. This procedure is very effective because rather than treating the skin bearing the tattoo, it simply removes the skin altogether. Despite the effectiveness of this method, there are, of course, major downsides.
During the procedure, the surgeon will cut around the skin bearing the tattoo, excise it, and then sew the edges together to close the wound. Because this method involves surgery, it necessitates the use of local, regional, or even general anesthesia. Another big downside of this procedure is that it, of course, results in a surgical scar.
And while this procedure is effective, it can only be done on tattoos that are very small. That’s because a surgeon can only remove a certain amount of tissue before requiring a skin graft to close the wound. If your small tattoo is going to disappear, you might as well have it done with laser removal, where you won’t have a surgical scar forever.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tattoo Removal
1. How Many Sessions Does It Take to Fully Remove a Tattoo?
Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 sessions to completely remove a tattoo. With the PiQo4 laser that we use, tattoo removal tends to be faster than the average. It’s important to remember that every body is different and works in its own time.
2. How Often Can I Schedule a Laser Removal Appointment?
When you’re scheduling your appointments for laser removal, you should keep in mind how much work your body has to do to clear the tattoo particles. It’s recommended that you wait about 4-6 weeks between sessions.
If you go in for a laser treatment before your body has cleared all the shattered ink fragments, these unremoved fragments will block the intact ink particles beneath them from absorbing the laser light and treatment will have no effect.
3. What Can Impact How Long Laser Removal Takes?
One that impacts how quickly your tattoo is removed is its location. Tattoos that are closer to the heart will be removed more quickly. Additionally, the number of lymph nodes near the location of the tattoo impacts the speed of removal. A good rule of thumb is that the higher up on the body the tattoo is, the faster it can be removed.
Size of Tattoo
The bigger the tattoo, the more appointments you’re going to need to get rid of it. If you’re treating a larger area of skin, it’s bound to take more time.
Age of Tattoo
As your tattoo ages, it begins to sink into the skin and break down. That makes it easier for the laser to shatter the ink particles, and easier for your body to clear them.
Your immune system is a vital part of the process of having your tattoos removed. If you don’t have a healthy immune system or have an autoimmune condition, it can take your body longer to effectively clear the shattered ink fragments.
Get Rid of Your Tattoo Today
Stop living with an old tattoo that you’re embarrassed by or that reminds you of something you’d rather forget. If you have a tattoo that you want gone, now is the perfect time to invest in laser tattoo removal. Get rid of your past and move on with your life, by getting rid of your unwanted ink and basking in your clear skin.
To schedule a consultation for tattoo removal, contact Still Waters Day & Medical Spa, in Pensacola, FL.