Unwanted tattoos don’t have to be a permanent reminder of things you would rather forget.
For many years, there were no adequate techniques to remove them, unless the removal was done by surgery or using very aggressive dermabrasion. Today we have very advance technology to remove unwanted tattoos.
First is important to know that any foreign substance that gets into our body is immediately recognized by our immune system (or defence system) as a foreign body. If a substance is found to be strange, our body will try to eliminate it; one of the many ways of doing this is by using a cell called macrophages which will literally “eat” the strange particles.
When we get a tattoo, the ink molecules are so big that macrophages cannot absorb them, that’s why the tattoo remains intact.
Now, How does laser treatment remove a tattoo?
To begin, we need to imagine each ink molecule as a big onion made up of many layers. During each laser session, a small layer of the ink molecule is broken off, and then the macrophages can absorb it; this way, session by session, these large ink molecules get dissolved until they disappear completely. This is the reason why several sessions are needed to completely remove a tattoo (you will need and average of 10 sessions).
What are some of the factors that must be taken in consideration to predict the result of the treatment?
- The tattoo colours: Dark colours, mainly black and red will respond better to laser treatment than light colours because, after all, the laser works better with darker pigments and the light colours have less intense pigments.
- If the tattoo was done by a professional or not: Tattoos done by a professional will react better because the ink molecules will have been distributed in a more uniform way in the skin.
- How old is the tattoo. A more recent tattoo will be easier to remove.
- The immunological condition of the patient: A patient with a healthy immune system will have a better result. Therefore, before you decide to remove your tattoo, your complete clinical history should be reviewed and assessed in order to avoid potential risks such as scarring and infections.