Tattoos are more common than ever before. According to a 2015 Harris Poll, 47 percent of millennials and 36 percent Gen Xers have at least one tattoo.
If you regret a tattoo you received in your youth or want to make space for another design, laser tattoo removal can help you achieve your desired look. Here's what you can expect from your first appointment.
How laser tattoo removal works
A plastic surgeon can remove tattoos using a laser treatment which utilizes concentrated beams of light to break up color pigment in your skin. Contrary to popular belief, tattoo removal can be quick and comfortable- when you choose the right surgeon. Many patients say removal is no more painful than getting the tattoo in the first place.
When you meet with your specialist, he or she will examine your tattoo and help set expectations for what you can anticipate from the procedure. Often, the size, placement and color of the tattoo with impact the results. For example, black ink is the easiest to remove, because the color black absorbs all wavelengths of light. For other colors, the surgeon or technician must adjust the laser for targeted treatment.
During the procedure, you may receive numbing medication such as lidocaine injections to increase your comfort. The laser may feel uncomfortable, but the pain shouldn't be too intense. After the medication wears off, you may experience a stinging sensation comparable to a sunburn.
Most patients require between three and six treatments before seeing their desired results.
If your tattoo is on an extremity, such as your lower leg, it may require additional treatments to completely disappear, as it is further from your heart, and thus circulation isn't as strong. Similarly, larger tattoos will require longer sessions and additional laser pulses.
If you're a smoker, it may be more difficult to achieve your desired results. According to the University of Florida, smoking weakens the immune system and can constrict blood flow, meaning you may require more than the average number of treatments.
Consulting with a trained specialist is the best way to learn about what to expect for your specific tattoo.
Dr. Marotta is a dual board certified facial plastic surgeon. He is committed to delivering the best experience possible to his clients. Schedule a consultation today to see how Dr. Marotta and his team can help you decide if tattoo removal is right for you.