How does laser tattoo removal work?

What’s the science behind laser tattoo removal you may ask? Let’s break it down for you.

Now, I could talk for days and days when it comes to the science behind laser tattoo removal, but I will try to keep it brief so I don’t bore you.

Tattoos are designed to last forever. When your tattoo artist applied your tattoo, he layered the tattoo ink, via a tattoo needle, deep into the dermal layer of your skin at varying depths and thickness’. Your body identifies this tattoo ink as a foreign body but due to the size of the ink particles, your very helpful white cells or macrophages cannot engulf these large particles and eliminate them from your body. It’s like trying to take a bite out of an elephant, it ain’t gonna work. This is why tattoos are permanent.

This is where the laser comes in and the magic happens. Through amazing advances in technology, we are lucky to now able to remove tattoos safely and scar-free if the correct laser is used and operated by a qualified technician. Nowadays the use of the Q-switched NdYag laser is the safest and most effective tattoo removal treatment available.

During laser tattoo removal by a Q-switched NdYag laser, extremely short but very powerful pulses of energy are fired at the surface of your skin. The laser energy passes through your cells safely and is absorbed by the dark pigment of your tattoo. The energy absorption by the tattoo ink causes the tattoo ink to shatter via the photoacoustic effect. This shattering of the particles sets off the body’s natural immune response which responds by sending out your helpful white blood cells to engulf the small particles and eliminate them from your body via your lymphatic system. Boom!

Each time we hit your tattoo with a laser we are smashing a little bit more off those big boulders of ink that are trapped in your dermal layer until they are all smashed small enough for your immune system to engulf and eliminate.

This is why your lymphatic system, circulation, and heart are so important in the laser tattoo removal process. Your bloodstream carries the smashed particles of ink to your lymphatic system, which is the trashcan of the body, and where the ink particles are disposed of.

Since the laser process revolves around your heart and blood flow, a tattoo that is closer to your heart will break up faster than one on a lower limb, such as fingers and feet. The further away from your heart and your lymph nodes that a tattoo is on your body, the longer the process can take. Everyone’s immune system works differently when it responds to the laser treatment and no two tattoo removal journeys will be the same.

Lots more factors can affect your tattoo removal. One is the colour of your skin. The lighter your skin, or skin that is not tanned, is a lot easier to remove a tattoo from than darker skin or tanned skin. When your skin is tanned your melanin cells are activated and enlarged and the laser will be attracted to this dark pigment and not your tattoo pigment. You also run the risk of hypopigmentation as your melanin can be destroyed by the laser. The number one rule in laser tattoo removal is to apply sunscreen before, during and after your removal. Slip, slop, slap kiddies!

Ink is another variable. The ink comes in such a wide variety of brands, components and quality and all respond differently to laser treatments. The inks used in your tattoo can be more or less responsive to laser treatments. It’s the luck of the draw really as to what your tattoo artist used. Black ink is the easiest to remove and the blue/greens and reds/oranges are harder.

Laser tattoo removal is different for everyone but if you are active, healthy, drink lots of water and look after your tattoo you will remove your tattoo quicker.



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