Laser Tattoo Removal - Frequently Asked Questions
- Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
- How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
- How long are laser tattoo removal treatments?
- How many laser tattoo removal treatment sessions will it take to remove the tattoo?
- Do all colors of tattoo ink disappear equally as well?
- Will the tattoo completely disappear?
- What will happen after laser tattoo removal treatment?
- How long should I wait between laser tattoo removal treatments?
- What are the risks of laser tattoo removal treatment?
- What questions should I ask before choosing a laser tatto removal provider in North Carolina?
1. Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
Laser tattoo removal is very comfortable. Patients will feel the pulses as quick tingling sensations, like very tiny rubber bands snapped against the skin. The tattoo ink absorbs a great deal of the laser energy and some patients may feel mild discomfort as we trace the design.
At Carolina Laser, we apply a topical numbing ointment to the tattoo in advance of your treatment to numb the skin. After the skin is numb, we inject anesthetic solution under to skin to make the procedure painless. Your comfort is important to us. After your procedure, Dr. White, laser tattoo removal expert and a Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, will prescibe pain medicine for you, which you can pick up at your pharmacy to treat any post op pain you may experience.
2. How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
Cost will be determined by Dr. White at the time of your initial consult. Dr. White charges $110.00 for all laser tattoo removal consultations. The cost of your consult will be deducted from the cost of your first treatment. Treatment costs vary depending on type (amateur versus professional), number and type of colors, and the location of your tattoo. There is a $175.00 minimum charge per session for tattoo removal.
30-percent discount for active-duty military, police, fire, EMTs. "Recently our military branches have instituted policies about tattoos and their placement, so many of our service men and women need to have tattoos removed. I believe we should honor those who protect and serve us and the discount we offer for tattoo removal is a way that I believe we can give back to those who give so much to us," states Dr. White.
3. How long are laser tattoo removal treatments?
Depending on the size of the tattoo, laser tattoo removal treatments usually range from 15 to 45 minutes.
4. How many laser tattoo removal treatment sessions will it take to remove my tattoo?
PicoSure is the world's first and only picosecond aesthetic laser cleared by the FDA. PicoSure achieves visibly clearer, ink-free skin faster. Even difficult ink colors such as blues and greens, as well as previously treated tattoos, can be removed in fewer treatments with better clearance and improved recovery time. We also use RevLite for removal of red pigment tattoo inks. Older technology such as the Medlite C3 and C6 often left a ghost of the image making it difficult to replace the image or having to cover up the residual tattoo.
The more effectively the ink molecules are reduced, the faster the tattoo can be removed. While our lasers provide faster and more consistent results which can potentially require fewer treatments than with other lasers which saves patients time and money - it is important to note that patients can still expect to receive multiple treatments based on various aspects of their individual tattoos.
When Dr. White, laser tattoo removal expert and a Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, examines your tattoo, she will be able to give you an estimate on the number of treatments, which will be necessary to fade or remove the tattoo. Because there is a great deal of variability in the kinds, mixtures and quantities of ink used in tattoos, and because there is some variability in people's natural ability to clear away tattoo pigment after laser treatment, it is not possible to "promise" you that a certain result will happen after a fixed number of treatments. Dr. White will explain what is likely to happen, but she cannot precisely predict or guarantee what will happen in any particular case. Dr. White will also show you photos illustrating the range of results, from fading through to complete disappearance of the tattoo.
Some lightly pigmented, black or dark blue, homemade tattoos can be removed in one treatment. Amateur tattoos (which usually have a small amount of superficial ink) often clear after two to six treatments. A few amateur tattoos have very deeply placed ink, and this very deep ink can require more treatments. New tattoos usually need extra treatments because they have a higher concentration of ink than old tattoos. Older tattoos have less ink because as a tattoo ages, the body absorbs some of the ink. Tattoos on the face and trunk often respond faster to laser treatment than tattoos on the ankles.
Factors which influence laser tattoo removal treatment success include the kind and color of inks used, the ability of the patient's immune system to clear away pigment after it has been treated, and location of the tattoo. Multicolored professional tattoos, especially on the lower legs, tend to respond slowly to laser treatments, and quite a few multicolored tattoos will need 10 or more treatment sessions for satisfactory fading or complete removal.
5. Do all colors of tattoo ink disappear equally as well?
Black, red, dark orange and dark blue tattoos will usually respond relatively quickly to laser treatments. Green, purple, brown, light orange and light blue may require more visits. Our all new Picosure and RevLite® lasers are much more effective than older lasers at removing multicolored tattoos. We will use the lasers that are most successful for your particular tattoo. Dark (blue/black) inks and red inks usually fade the best. Oranges and purples often respond well. Dark inks usually respond quicker than bright colored inks because dark colors absorb laser energy better. Light colors such as light green, yellow and turquoise can be difficult to remove, however, our all new Picosure laser is much more effective at removing these colors than older models. Sometimes chemicals like iron oxide or titanium dioxide are added to tattoo ink to brighten the tattoo - but these chemicals make it much more difficult to remove the tattoo. Fluorescent "Day Glow" pigments are almost impossible to remove. Some tattoos are now made with dark tar-based ink or "laser resistant ink" and these tattoos (which fortunately are quite rare) can only be removed by cutting them out.
6. Will the tattoo completely disappear?
Lasers are the safest way to remove tattoos. But, not all lasers can erase all tattoos. Our all new Picosure laser is 100X faster than nanosecond lasers, and can effectively and efficiently remove the green and sky blue colors in tattoos that can be more difficult to remove with some older model lasers, and the other colors with fewer sessions. The Revlite laser is still considered the "gold standard" for nanosecond laser tattoo removal, and we find it very effective on removing red ink pigment in tattoos.
In most cases the tattoo can be made to disappear or fade to the point where you are the only person who can find a trace of it, because you know where to look. Please note: older technology such as the Medlite C3 and C6, still in use by many laser tatto removal centers in North Carolina ... but not us ... often leaves a ghost of the image making it difficult to replace the image or having to cover up the residual tattoo.
Some people choose to over-tattoo (use "cover-art") to hide an undesirable tattoo. (This is especially common when the original tattoo contains the name of a former love interest.) If you have one tattoo on top of an older tattoo, extra laser treatments will probably be needed because there is likely to be a large amount of ink (ink from the new cover-up tattoo plus ink from the old tattoo).
Many tattoo artists encourage customers to have several laser treatments to lighten an existing tattoo before covering it with a new one. This will greatly reduce any chance that the old tattoo will be visible through the new tattoo. We welcome advice from your tattoo artist about the desired degree of lightening, and about the exact elements in the old tattoo which should be lightened or eliminated. You should wait a month or two after your final laser treatment before having a new tattoo placed in the treated area.
7. What will happen after laser tattoo removal treatment?
For the first half-hour after laser tattoo removal treatment the tattoo looks pale or white, and may swell slightly. The tattoo may feel hot (like a sunburn) for a while after laser treatment, and it will probably be red and swollen for the rest of the day. There may be pinpoint bleeding for a few hours in areas where there was a lot of pigment. Dr. White will write a prescription for an effective nonsensitizing antibiotic ointment to aid in healing and prevent scarring, and pain medication so you won't have to worry about post-op pain. At Carolina Laser, your comfort is important to us.
Skin care after laser treatment of tattoos is quite similar to skin care after having a tattoo. Gentle cleansing of the skin and application of an antibiotic ointment will help tattoos heal quickly after treatment. Watch for unusual redness, pain, or swelling which might be a sign of infection, and please call us right away if you think an infection is developing. Avoid picking or irritating the skin after treatment. The area may remain reddened for two to four weeks, and there may be some flaking or peeling during this time. Sometimes skin or a scab the same color as the tattoo peels off after 5-7 days. This is a normal process as the body works to eliminate the tattoo dyes. Very dark, or large professional tattoos, will remain tender and swollen for a few days.There may be some lightening or darkening of the skin for several months after laser treatment. Protect the treated area from sun exposure until the skin is completely healed and the skin color has returned to normal.
Your tattoo usually fades over 4-6 weeks. The degree of fading will be easier to see when you compare your tattoo with pre-treatment photographs.
8. How long should I wait between laser tattoo removal treatments?
Quick fading or removal can sometimes be accomplished on black tattoos by using low powered treatments every week or two. In general, however, it is best to wait at least 6 weeks between laser tattoo removal treatments. Sometimes it is possible to fade or remove the tattoo with a smaller number of treatments if you are willing to wait 8-12 weeks between treatments, so that your body has a longer opportunity to clear away pigment after laser tattoo removal treatment. You should think of the fading and eventual elimination of your tattoo as a project which you might work on from time to time over the next year or two.
9. What are the risks of laser tattoo removal treatment?
In most cases, the laser tattoo removal treatment leads to satisfactory fading or complete removal of the tattoo without significant side effects. Serious side effects are very unusual.
The most common problem with laser tattoo removal treatment is incomplete fading or removal of the tattoo. This is mainly an issue with complicated multicolored tattoos. Not all tattoo inks respond and rarely certain colors can get worse. Heavy professional tattoos in particular may not completely fade. Significant and sometimes irreversible darkening of tattoo ink may occur, where the pigment is impossible to remove. This is mostly a problem with flesh-colored, red, tan, and white inks, and a small test area can be done to detect this problem.
Although true scarring is very unlikely there can be some mild change in the texture of the skin (perhaps 1-2% of cases). Sometimes there is pre-existing texture change in the skin caused by the tattooing process itself. Please tell us if you have a tendency toward forming unusual scars. Please note however, that Picosure laser tattoo removal has provided vast improvement in this area.
There can also be some loss of natural tanning ability in the treated area, which usually improves with time. You can reduce the chance of irregular tanning by protecting the tattooed area from sun exposure. Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) are quite infrequent, and are almost always temporary. African, Asian and Mediterranean people can have their tattoos safely treated without changing the surrounding skin color.
Allergic reactions can occur after treatment, especially if you are already having an allergic reaction (redness and itching) in your tattoo. Allergic reactions are rare, and can usually be treated with Benadryl. Allergic reactions are usually caused by metallic dyes, which contain mercury, manganese, chromium, cobalt, or cadmium. In contrast to drugs and cosmetics, tattoo pigments have never been controlled or regulated in any way, and the exact composition of a given tattoo pigment is often kept a "trade secret" by the manufacturer. In most cases, neither the tattoo artist nor the tattooed patient has adequate information about the composition of the tattoo pigment.
You should be mentally and emotionally stable when having any cosmetic procedure. This will help you to deal with the healing period after each treatment, and give you the patience and persistence to get through the complete series of treatments, which will be spread over many months.
After any kind of surgery or cosmetic treatment some patients experience a lull or down period where they become depressed or feel unattractive while healing. This is normal, but fortunately these feelings are quite uncommon and usually resolve after a few days or weeks. It is important to be patient and remain positive as this promotes better healing and relaxation. It is best not to pass judgment on your progress until the healing process has completed.
10. What questions should I ask before choosing a laser tatto removal provider in North Carolina?
Is their laser approved by the FDA for laser tattoo removal? Not all lasers are specifically intended for tattoo removal, although many providers use these "multi-procedure" lasers that can lead to significant side effects, including unnecessary scarring. Removing an unwanted tattoo is serious and requires an experienced physician.
What laser technology are they using? Carolina Laser and Cosmetic Center carries the top 2 devices, Picosure and Revlite, for effectively clearing tattoos with less fluence and shortened recovery times. Note: many laser tattoo removal facilities still use older technology such as the Medlite C3 and C6 which are far less effective at tattoo removal.
Other questions to consider: Is there a Medical Doctor on staff, that is available? Is it clean? Is the clinic busy? A busy clinic is a good first sign of a well-run practice. Will they consider your medical condition and history?
Trust your tattoo removal to THE expert!
We are the North Carolina expert for laser tattoo removal since 2002 ... longer than anyone in the state!
Dr. Anne White is one of only 3 physicians in NC to offer Revlite for removal of red inks and Picosure for unprecedented clearing of blues and greens.
Over 15,000 sessions of laser tattoo removal ... now THAT'S experience!
Patient Comfort and Safety are our highest priority!
We offer our patients not only topical numbing but also injectable anesthesia and the Zimmer Chiller cold air machine for the ultimate in comfort.