Below is a guest post by Cleighton DePetro, Director at Sempurna Restoration Clinic in Chicago.

P eople often ask us, “can you remove my tattoo?” The question is so straightforward – and rightfully so. They want to know if we can help them. Period. It’s often tempting to go into detail on the physics and biology involved in laser tattoo removal but most clients get a glazed-over look in their eyes and only want to hear a simple, “yes” or “no.”

As with anything related to medicine and your health, it’s worth doing your research ahead of time. There are a lot of intricacies to the process, regarding skin types, tattoo inks, colors, location of the tattoo, health of the client, the technology, and so forth. The following is an introduction to the technology behind laser tattoo removal.

Tattoo removal lasers are Q-switched lasers specifically designed to target pigment in the dermal layer of the skin and shatter it. Treatments are spaced at least 4 weeks apart to allow for the skin to heal and the body to process the shattered ink.

But not all tattoo lasers are the same. There are a lot of places that claim they do tattoo removal but don’t have one designed specifically for tattoo removal, or don’t have the ideal design to achieve the best results. Here are the main things you’ll want to ask about:

1.  Is the laser a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser?

These are the only types of lasers that can effectively target the ink. If it’s a CO2 laser, run the other way – they’re not designed for other cosmetic procedures, not laser tattoo removal. As such, they’re not as effective and have much greater chances of side effects such as burning or scarring.

2.  What wavelengths does your machine have?

Laser Tattoo Removal Wavelength

Most tattoo removal machines have just two wavelengths: 532 and 1064 nanometers. These are good at removing blacks and reds, but won’t work on other colors like blues and greens.

3.  If the clinic has a 694 wavelength, ask if it’s a “true” 694, or generated by bending light

A commonly used machine says they have a 694 wavelength but be wary. This wavelength is generated by bending the light and won’t be as effective as a “true” 694 wavelength. True 694 is achieved with a separate (ruby) laser. The Quanta Q+C has a true 694 wavelength that will be much more effective with blues and greens. If you have a colorful tattoo, make sure to ask about the wavelengths.

4.  Does the laser have a flat top beam profile?

Laser Tattoo Removal q-switched

This pictures illustrates the difference between a flat top beam and one with spikes. Flat top beams will penetrate the skin evenly whereas spiked beam profiles will penetrate unevenly, causing a greater reaction in the skin (and has a greater risk of side effects like burning, blistering, hypopigmentation, bleeding, and scarring) and not enough effect in other areas.

Cost of Tattoo Removal

Right ArrowAbout DermBids: We provide free laser tattoo removal estimates from local doctors and medical spas, just by taking a picture. We compare doctors based on experience, laser quality, distance and costs so you can make an educated buying decision when you decide to make an appointment!

Try us out! Get your laser tattoo removal estimates!

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Photo Credit: Astanza and Flickr