How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

I have been spending quite a bit of time on the phone talking to prospective customers and the same questions seem to pop up on almost every call.  The most basic is, “How does laser tattoo removal work?”  Let me try to explain in the easiest terms I can.

There are two layers of skin, the epidermis and the dermis.  The outer layer, the epidermis is composed of four layers (five on your palms and the soles of your feet).  These layers are protective, keeping germs, viruses and other assorted nasties out of your body.  About every 2-4 weeks (less when we are younger) the lower cells move to the surface and are sloughed off the body.

Under the epidermis is the dermis, which is where tattoo ink is placed.  If the ink were closer to the surface in the epidermis, it wouldn’t be permanent and would have to be replaced every 2-4 weeks. (see pic 1 below)

Tattoo Removal skin cross section

Pic 1

 

Laser tattoo removal works like this:

1)   A Q-switched laser is used to transfer energy through the epidermis.  This specific type of laser is used because it produces a higher energy pulse than a regular laser (it pulses in nanoseconds or one billionth of a second).  Q-switched tattoo removal lasers are called “non-ablative” because they do not damage the epidermis.

2)   The laser energy pulse hits the ink in the dermis and shatters a layer of ink into smaller “fragments”.

3)   These “fragments” are then removed from the body by the immune system. Each time a layer of ink is removed, the tattoo gets lighter (see pic 2 – this would be after 1-2 sessions, below).

Tattoo Removal - How It Works

Pic 2: After 1-2 sessions

 

Thanks to the advent of Q-switched lasers, tattoo removal has become convenient and affordable for complete removal or lightening of tattoos.  If you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, just click the “Appointments” tab or give us a call at 617-477-8636 (UNDO).