LASER TATTOO REMOVAL
Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 Australians have a tattoo?
And nearly half of those have more than one tattoo. No longer the realm of the young and rebellious, over a third of people got their first tattoo aged 26 years or older and about 1 in 5 who got their first tattoo are aged over their mid-30s.*
Tattoo regret is also increasing with 27% of people saying they subsequently regret getting a tattoo. Reasons may include regretting that youthful exuberance or immaturity, employment or business reasons or even a change of relationship.
* source https://mccrindle.com.au/insights/blog/tattoos-in-australia
Types of Tattoos
The commonest type of tattoos are professional tattoos which use different colours of ink applied by a licensed tattoo artist with a tattoo gun and disposable needles.
Other tattoos include cosmetic tattoos such as scalp micropigmentation, tattooed eyebrows and lips; medical tattoos which are performed for therapeutic reasons such as for radiotherapy targeting; amateur and traumatic (including haemosiderosis or iron staining from iron infusions).
Laser Tattoo Removal Basics
Tattoo removal may seem like a basic procedure, but it is actually quite challenging.
Laser tattoo removal has been around for quite some time, but laser technology has continued to evolve over the years. Newer lasers are more efficient than the older lasers and can remove more ink with fewer treatment sessions, and can penetrate deeper into skin layers to remove more ink.
Factors which will impact on the success of laser tattoo removal include:
- Skin type (Fitzpatrick skin type)
- Ink colour (black is the easiest to remove; green, yellow and blue are the most difficult)
- Type of tattoo (professional v amateur)
- Body site (tattoos on the arms and legs take longer to clear than those on the chest or abdomen)
- Age of tattoo
- Scarring or skin damage at the site of the tattoo
All methods of laser tattoo removal will require several sessions spaced several months apart for best results.
All current lasers used for tattoo removal are Q-switched lasers or Pico lasers. Q-Switched lasers deliver high-intensity heat in nanosecond pulses (billionths of a second) to break apart tattoo ink embedded into the skin. Pico lasers generate shorter pulses in the picosecond range (fractions of a nanosecond) which may improve the results. Ordinary lasers used for hair removal, blood vessels or other uses cannot generate such short duration pulses and are unsuitable for tattoo removal.
At cosmetic MD, we have the latest generation Q-switched laser, the Fotona Starwalker MaQX. The Starwalker's unique high powered proprietary pulse waveform technology (ASP) is capable of delivering a number of picosecond-duration pulses within a short nanosecond-duration pulse envelope.
The Starwalker has 4 wavelengths available (1064nm, 532nm, 585nm and 650nm) which covers the full range of tattoo colours as well as the common targets of melanin, haemoglobin and water.
When a Q-switched laser pulse strikes the tattoo pigment, the heat given off generates gas and steam within the skin. This has several consequences.
Firstly, it causes an optical shielding or “frosting” effect that prevents any subsequent laser pulse from effectively reaching any deeper lying pigments.
Secondly, the gas bubbles which are formed around the pigment particles can damage the surrounding tissue.
To improve on the limitations of older Q-switched technology, Fotona developed the patented FracTat™ procedure. The first step involves drilling microscopic holes in the skin using a fractional ablative laser handpiece. The fractional micro holes act as pressure relief ducts through which the steam can escape without building up excessive pressure. The second step is the normal Q-switched laser tattoo treatment. The second step can be repeated several times as the steam shielding effect dissipates much more quickly.
The following photos are of a patient treated at cosmetic MD using our Starwalker. There were 5 sessions over an 18 month period using the Fractat procedure.
To find out more about these procedures, go to our Contact page to send cosmetic MD an email or call us to organise a consultation.