Love and tattoos are supposed to last forever. Life, however, doesn’t always work out just the way we planned.
Even if you loved your tattoo for years, you may now need to lose it to start a new job, a new relationship, or even a new tattoo. Whether you want a fresh, clean start with clear skin, or whether you want to just remove part of your tattoo, lasers let you do it.
Jeffrey Gosin, MD, founder of Shore Vascular and Vein Center in Somers Point, New Jersey, is happy to offer laser tattoo removal to women and men who’ve fallen out of love with their tats. If you’re ready to break up with your tattoo, here’s what you need to know.
Tattoo removal takes commitment
Getting a tat can be done impulsively (and often is), but tattoo removal is a long-term process that demands commitment. When your tattoo artist inked your skin, the needle they used pressed the pigment deep into your skin’s layers.
That’s why you can’t just “erase” your tattoo by scrubbing at the ink. In fact, trying to do that could permanently damage your skin. And it leaves the tattoo intact.
Instead, your laser expert must shatter the pigment, layer by layer. Your body then processes the ink fragments and eliminates them naturally through excretion over the next several weeks.
At Shore Vascular and Vein Center , we use the enlighten® III laser by Cutera to shatter your tattoo pigment. The enlighten III features three different wavelengths — 532 nm, 1064 nm, and 670 nm — that blast almost all pigments, including resistant blues and greens.
The enlighten works in stages, too. In the first part of this dual-delivery system, the laser breaks up the pigment in your tattoo with bursts of energy that only last about 0.000000002 seconds (two billionths of a second) each.
We then further break up those shattered pigments into even smaller pieces with another pass. This time, the energy pulses last just 750 picoseconds (a picosecond is just one trillionth of a second).
How long depends on how long … and how much
Even though the enlighten uses two passes to break your tattoo pigment into the smallest particles possible, one treatment is not enough to completely remove your tattoo. Dr. Gosin estimates how many treatments you need based on how old your tattoo is, how many different colors of ink you have, and whether you have light as well as dark colors.
Light colors, such as white and yellow, usually take longer to remove than darker colors. That’s because the first time you use a laser on light colors, they oxidize to dark colors. The next time, the laser breaks up the darkened pigment.
Each enlighten treatment only takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the area you want to erase. However, you may need a series of anywhere from 3-10 treatments to completely erase your tattoo.
You also must leave about a month between each treatment to allow your body to eliminate the shattered pigment. In addition, using a laser on your skin too quickly after a treatment risks damaging your skin.
Enlighten works on all colors … of ink and skin
Time was, laser tattoo removal was only appropriate for lighter skin tones. The heat from early lasers sometimes caused pigmentation problems in darker skin. However, the enlighten doesn’t shatter tattoo pigment with heat; it uses mechanical force to break apart the ink. That means your skin stays safe, no matter what its hue.
You choose how much to do
Maybe you want to break up with your tattoo, but you still want to stay friends to take advantage of its good points. We help you do that by only removing the areas of the tattoo that you’re ready to say goodbye to. If you love the image of your tattoo, but have changed your mind about a name or sentiment, we can erase just that portion.
Or, conversely, if you’re ready to return to bare skin, the enlighten does that, too. Just let us know what your ultimate goals are, and we’ll help you achieve them.
Ready to break up with your old ink by breaking it up with lasers? Call us for a tattoo removal session at 609-297-5992, or use the handy online contact form.