NATURE OF THE PROCEDURE
The laser is a beam of light that will selectively target certain tissues or colors based on the wavelength chosen. When the laser beam hits the targeted tissue, that particular wavelength is selectively absorbed into the pigment of the tattoo. At that point, the light turns into heat, and the heat “explodes” the pigment. Once this happens, the pigment particles have been reduced to fine “dust” and the body scavenger cells (macrophages) carry the pigment away. You might wonder why this didn’t happen originally, but when the tattoo was originally applied, the globs of pigment were too big to be engulfed by these cells. We are simply enabling the body to clear this pigment.
Unfortunately, we cannot control what type of pigment was used, how much, or the depth. Some colors are much more difficult to remove than others (particularly red, yellow, and green) and certain fluorescent pigments are almost impossible to remove. Some tattoos are now made with “laser resistant ink” and this is impossible to treat. Dr. Coverman uses the Erbium:YAG laser at 532 nm or 1064 nm; he also uses the Alexandrite at 755 nm. Depending on the color or your prior tissue response, he will choose what is best.
Once we fragment this pigment, we cannot predict what the body is going to do with it – not how much, nor how quickly. In general, even under the best of circumstances, we have learned from experience that you are going to need at least two sessions, usually a minimum of two months apart. The longer you wait between sessions, the better since there is more natural clearing by the body. Sometimes it can take three, four or five sessions, and sometimes the ink is never fully cleared because the body just isn’t going to do it.
Because of this, Dr. Coverman always tells patients that tattoos will be “faded.” This can be 100%. Sometimes however, there may be some residual pigment that will just never come out. No percentage of improvement can be made per session, per area, or overall after all treatment sessions.
Dr. Coverman has extensive photos available for you to see how this procedure progressed in other patients.
We do not use any lasers on anyone that has taken Accutane (or its generics) used for acne, or Soriatene, used for psoriasis in the past six months.
Any laser can flare herpes if there has been a history of that in the intended treatment sites. If so, tell us and we will give you a pill to happily prevent a flare. Even so, a flare could happen which could cause pigment changes or scarring. It WILL NOT cause herpes anywhere else.
Tattoos can be surgically excised, burned with acids, or rubbed with salt or urea. Tattoos can be covered with other tattoos.