There are many different methods of tattoo removal. Some involve cutting the tattoo right out of your skin with a procedure called excision (it feels about as good as it sounds).
Another method involves dermabrasion, which sands away the top layer of the epidermis. Both are effective at removing ink but can be painful.
Your body’s immune system has a natural reaction when it encounters a foreign object, like tattoo ink. It sends white blood cells to the affected area. These white blood cells are designed to destroy foreign invaders and absorb them into the bloodstream.
However, tattoo ink particles are bigger than white blood cells and therefore harder to break down and remove. They’re also a metallic substance, which makes them more difficult to penetrate the skin. This size mismatch means that while some white blood cells will engulf the ink particles, many of them will just be too big to “eat.”
The best way to remove tattoos is with lasers. These lasers are specialized devices that use ultra short pulses of light to heat up the ink particles and crack them apart into smaller chunks.
To get the ink particles to break apart, the lasers need to heat up the ink particle enough to make it expand through thermal expansion. This requires that the pulse of laser energy be very fast and very narrow so that only half the particle is heated up.
This process is called photothermolysis. It’s similar to the way boiling water expands in a glass, but it has to be done very quickly so that only half the particle is heated up. The opposing cool and hot forces then rip the ink particle apart to make it easier for the white blood cells to absorb it and transport it to the liver where it will be flushed out of your body.
How fast the tattoo will fade depends on a variety of factors, including your age, your body’s immune system and what type of pigments were used in the tattoo. In general, darker pigments are easier to erase than lighter ones because their wavelengths are less likely to be absorbed by the laser.
The ink that’s removed is broken down into the individual pigments, which can then be flushed out by your body’s lymphatic system. This process is especially effective for black and grey inks, which are easily flushed out.
The fading process of your tattoo can take anywhere from 6 to 8 treatment sessions, depending on the type of ink and the location of the tattoo. Each session will help break down the ink particles and encourage your body’s immune system to start breaking it down naturally.
White blood cells
White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system, which protects the body against infection. These cells are made in the bone marrow and help fight off germs like bacteria, viruses and fungi.
When you get a tattoo, your skin thinks it is a foreign object, and so your immune system starts to attack the ink. It’s the same process that happens with cuts, scrapes and other injuries to the skin.
The skin’s white blood cells engulf the ink particles, destroying them and transporting them to your lymphatic system. This process is called phagocytosis.
Once in the lymphatic system, the ink particles are filtered out of the body and disposed of. This is the first step in the removal of a tattoo.
There are five types of white blood cells: neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. Neutrophils are the most common of these and defend the body against bacterial infections by digesting bacteria in a process called phagocytosis. Lymphocytes protect the body against viral infections by releasing antibodies and other proteins that fight off infection.
Most people have about 60-70% of their white blood cells in the form of neutrophils. They’re responsible for defending the body against bacterial and fungal infections, as well as parasites, allergies, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
In a recent study, scientists found that macrophages, a type of white blood cell, engulf the pigments that make up a tattoo. But when the macrophages die, they release the pigments, which then are absorbed by nearby cells.
When the reabsorbed pigments reach your liver, they break down into toxic and poisonous chemicals that are then transported to your kidneys. This can have a negative impact on your health, according to Natural News.
To keep your immune system working properly, you need to have enough of these white blood cells in the body. If your blood count is low, you may have to take medications or undergo a procedure called leukapheresis.
A doctor can check your white blood cell count by taking a small sample of your blood from a vein or artery in your arm, leg or abdomen. The sample is then processed and sent to a laboratory for testing.
Lasers work by sending high-intensity, pulsed light to the top layer of your skin, where the tattoo pigment resides. Then, the tattoo ink is broken up into smaller particles by the energy of the laser and flushed away by your body over time.
Newer lasers can remove tattoos with greater clarity and speed than older devices, and require fewer treatments, because the heat is distributed more evenly around the tattoo. This helps reduce the amount of scar tissue, which will make your skin feel more comfortable and reduce your downtime between sessions.
There are several different types of lasers used for tattoo removal, with the most common being Q-switched Nd:YAG, PicoSure and Hoya Conbio Medlite (C3, C4, C6 and Revlite). Each type of laser is designed to treat different colors.
For example, the 532 nm hand piece of the PicoSure removes all colors; the 755 nm hand piece targets black, green and blue inks; and the 1064 nm hand piece is ideal for treating red, orange and yellow inks. The Nd:YAG also has a wavelength of 694 nm, which is effective for treating green inks and other dark colors.
The laser also features a powerful Q-switching technology that delivers amazingly short laser pulses, which last for nanoseconds (billionths of a second). These short laser pulses shatter the ink particles into smaller pieces without damaging the skin, which means you don’t have to worry about the risk of scarring.
A dermatologist can determine which laser will be best for your specific tattoo, based on the color and density of the ink. They will also consider your skin’s type and texture, which can affect the way your tattoo absorbs laser energy.
Dermatologists understand that some people want their tattoos to disappear quickly, so they’re constantly working to develop ways to safely and effectively remove them with less downtime. One study found that patients had as much as 50% of their ink removed during a single visit to the office.
The most important thing to remember is that lasers aren’t magic, and you will need to undergo a series of treatments before your tattoo completely fades. The number of treatments depends on the size, color and density of your tattoo, as well as how deep it’s embedded in your skin.
Tattoo removal is a treatment that removes unwanted ink from the skin. It’s done in a few ways, including laser treatment.
During laser treatment, the tattoo is targeted using a hand piece and pulses of intense light are passed through the skin. The laser energy breaks up the ink pigments into smaller particles that your immune system will then clear away.
This is a very gentle treatment that works with a variety of skin types and colors. It is a popular option for people who have small or large tattoos that they want removed, and it is also great for patients who have an allergic reaction to the ink or are suffering from an infection.
A typical laser session involves several treatments over a period of time. Each treatment should gradually fade the tattoo and make it lighter. The number of treatments depends on the size, color, and depth of the tattoo. The technician will test the patient’s skin before beginning the procedure.
The treatment itself involves the placement of a pair of protective eye shields and the use of a hand piece to apply pulses of laser energy. The intensity of the energy used varies with each patient and is determined by the color and depth of the tattoo.
Blisters, redness and swelling can occur during treatment. These are common side effects and typically subside within one to two weeks after the procedure.
If you have blisters, try not to pick at them or touch them. The scab will form over the top of the blister and will fall off in a few days. It is important to follow aftercare instructions carefully as picking at the scabs can cause scarring.
It is very rare for scarring to occur from tattoo removal. Fortunately, the process is very safe and it only happens when a patient doesn’t take proper care of the treated area.
Some people experience a slight change in the color of their skin after laser tattoo removal, but this is usually temporary and goes away on its own within a few weeks. This is not a major concern for most patients, but it’s something to be aware of and discuss with your patients.