There are several factors to take into account when figuring out how tattoos will respond to treatment. A tattoo’s color, depth, and the chemical composition of the ink all affect how the tattoo will respond to laser-based treatment.
The treatments usually work well on black, red, and dark shades of orange and blue. Tattoos comprised of green, purple, brown, and lighter shades of orange and blue might require more sessions. With a sufficient number of treatments, Dr. Popkow can treat most tattoos successfully with a Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser system.
With laser therapy, the light pulses directly target the tattoo pigments to break up the ink into tiny particles. The treatment only takes minutes, sometimes depending on the size and intricacy of the tattoo, but usually multiple treatments are required. Dr. Popkow normally recommends 6-8 week intervals between treatment sessions to give skin ample time to heal and allow pigment residue to be taken away and flushed out by the body’s lymphatic system.
Just like it hurts to get tattoos, removing them can be a bit uncomfortable, too. Many patients compare the sensation to being snapped by a rubber band. However, in his preparation for the procedure, Dr. Popkow offers patients a topical anesthetic cream which will numb the area, then be wiped off before laser therapy. For instructions on how to properly apply topical anesthetic please call our office. If additional care is needed, Dr. Popkow can prescribe anesthetic pain medications.
After laser exposure, the treated areas may swell slightly and appear whitish-colored. The whiteness disappears within minutes. An ice pack can be given to relieve swelling and an antibacterial ointment and dressing will be applied to the affected area post treatment. Dr. Popkow recommends using a topical antibiotic cream such as Bacitracin ointment until the area heals.
Patients can shower after treatment with mild soap and reapply the antibiotic ointment afterward. The targeted skin may feel sore or sunburned for a couple of days and might remain red for a few weeks. Scabs may also form, but as the skin heals from treatment the tattoo will slowly fade away. If blisters occur don’t attempt to “pop”. The area should be kept moist and clean until it heals, which can take up to 7-10 days. If you have additionals questions, we suggest making a free phone consultation (310) 915-8060.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!