Month: May 2019

May Questions and Answers

Every time I take a new consultation, I learn more about what people think, believe, and wonder about laser tattoo removal. Because asking and answering questions is one of the best ways to learn, I thought I would take a couple of the questions I have been asked during consultations and answer them here.

What will my tattoo look like the day after treatment? (Asked by G.M. from St. Petersburg, FL)

Results can vary, of course, so lets discuss what a typical treatment looks like. First, every treatment is going to have some slight redness and itching. It is very similar to a mild sunburn, and like a sunburn it is very important that we do not scratch, itch, or abrade the area. As the treatments continue and higher energies are used, there is a slight chance that we see small water blisters in addition to the sunburn-like results.

Second, it is common to see a small amount of ink fading immediately after treatment. In many cases, we won’t see any immediate changes in the heavily inked areas or on darker lines, but shaded areas may become lighter overnight. It is important to remember that ink removal is a multi-week process carried out by the immune system, so the complete treatment result will be visible between weeks 3 and 6.

Finally, your tattoo is going to look back to normal within a few days to a week, except for a few noticeable changes. We already discussed the immediate fading of the ink that will continue for a couple weeks. In addition, when the laser breaks up the ink particles there can be some dispersion of the ink. Lines that were small and tight may become loose and faded, which is a great indicator that we are making progress towards removing your tattoo!

How soon can I go to the beach after treatment? (Asked by L.F. from Seminole, FL)

The short answer: 7 days, as long as your tattoo is completely healed and does not have any symptoms (redness, itching, or blistering).

The long answer: here in Florida, especially the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, we have fantastic beaches. We know that you want to get out there and enjoy the sun, sand, and surf – unfortunately, all three of the those things can be harmful to your newly treated tattoo!

The sun’s rays may feel amazing, but they can be damaging to skin that has been recently treated by a laser. On the other hand, the sand and water of the beach that we enjoy so much are filled with microbes that could infect a newly treated tattoo and ruin the healthy skin we are trying to save!

Thank you for taking the time to read a quick Q & A about laser tattoo removal! If you live in Largo, St. Petersburg, Seminole, Pinellas or the greater Tampa Bay area, please feel free to reach out to me with any further questions you might have or schedule your free consultation!

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It pops when the laser strikes my tattoo!

Many clients are surprised when they see and hear the immediate results from laser tattoo removal. They are amazed by the frosting effect and sometimes startled by the loud, “snap!” that emits when the laser strikes heavy ink. I wanted to discuss today the science behind laser tattoo removal, specifically the photoacoustic effect that creates the snapping sound that we hear.

A quick trip to Wikipedia tells us that the photoacoustic effect is most often produced by the photothermal mechanism. From this, we understand that the snapping noise we hear is most likely caused by the heating, expansion, and eventual breaking of the ink molecules within the skin. These processes create acoustic shockwaves within the skin, and those shockwaves are perceived as acoustic noises on the outside of the skin.

Because we now understand that the photoacoustic effect is highly likely to be directly tied to the break-up of ink molecules within the skin, it makes sense that one of the main indicators of effective removal is the loud snap that we hear during treatment. Your laser technician is trained to listen for and see the signals that you are receiving the right amount of light energy for an effective treatment.

We hope that this information has helped you understand the treatment process, and given you the urge to learn more! If you are in Seminole, Clearwater, St. Petersburg or the greater Tampa Bay area and would like to learn more about the process, please give us a call or book your free consultation online!

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Frosting during Treatment

When a technician is performing laser tattoo removal, it is important to see and hear certain signs that indicate the laser energy is being absorbed by the tattoo ink. One of the signs that we need to see is frosting.

Before treatment and frosting after laser treatment for red ink.

The photo above shows what a tattoo looks like both immediately before and after the treatment for red ink using a 532 nanometer wavelength laser. The white haze on the “after” picture is called frosting, and it indicates that we have successfully performed a laser treatment. We want to see this effect after every treatment, to ensure that the tattoo ink has absorbed enough energy to break apart and be removed by the body. It may look different depending on the color of the tattoo ink, but frosting should be evident after each laser treatment.

To understand why laser tattoo removal creates frosting, we should go to the research performed on laser technology. From a study performed by Ho et al. published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, sophisticated models indicate that the heat from the laser creates cavitation bubbles where the ink particles absorbed the light energy. In lay terms, this means that it is very likely that the “frosting” effect we see during treatment is actually tiny steam bubbles surrounding the ink that we have broken into smaller molecules.

To make a long story short, laser removal technicians need to see frosting during treatment because it is an excellent indicator that the ink has absorbed the right amount of light energy. If you are in Pinellas or the greater Tampa Bay area and are interested in having a tattoo removed, or would simply like to learn more about the process, then please give us a call or book your free consultation online!

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