People think that tattoo removal is pretty straight forward but in fact laser tattoo removal can be more tricky than it looks. Here we discuss a complex laser tattoo removal process on a bright multi-coloured tattoo.
Coloured ink can be very difficult to remove, and often it is impossible to remove some colours with industry standard QSwitched Yag lasers. In order for the laser to treat the ink in your tattoo the ink needs to be a dark colour. For this reason, white, yellow, powder blues and greens are almost impossible to remove during laser tattoo removal. There are some lasers that can remove light coloured inks although they are very expensive so not a lot of clinics just justify the cost of purchasing them. As well, these lasers do not treat black and red inks as well as QSwitched lasers.
The accompanying photo shows a very colourful tattoo containing yellows, blues, greens, red and black. Laser tattoo removal on this tattoo is going to be a mixed bag, with some colours unable to be affected by the laser. The black lines are very deep and there is lots of ink in them. As a result of this, the black ink responded very well to the laser in the form of frosting. With the laser set at 1064, the yellow did not respond. Absolutely nothing happened (to be expected) the same more or less for the greens and blues. The red reacted a little to the 1064 wavelength which indicates that there was some black ink mixed in the red. Amazing that a laser can pick up the darker ink mixed with the lighter ink. During the first treatment, I did not treat the red ink as I went over the red with the 1064 and it is not good laser tattoo removal practice to go over the area twice. At the next treatment we will start with the 532 wavelength and work on the red and then change to 1064 and go over the black ink.
Removing this tattoo is not going to be a quick process. According to the Kirby-Desai Tattoo removal scale, which is a fairly blunt instrument, we might need to do about 14 treatments. Currently we have agreed to do laser tattoo removal treatments every eight weeks although as the tattoo fades we might have to move treatment times to every twelve weeks or even longer.
So maybe when you get your next tattoo, you keep away from the light coloured inks, just in case you change your mind and want it removed by laser in the future.