How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

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It’s hard to acquire a tattoo, but it’s even harder to extract it. Thankfully, laser tattoo removal services can make this process go more smoothly.

To comprehend how laser tattoo removal operates, you must first comprehend how tattooing functions. Basically, needles inject ink into your skin when you get a tattoo. Because your body perceives this ink, which is typically formed of heavy metals (among other elements), as a foreign item, your immune system attempts to “destroy” it by producing white blood cells to eradicate it. However, because ink particles are greater than your cells, they are unable to be released immediately. Your body, however, somehow doesn’t give up and continues to produce white blood cells to “digest” the ink, which is why new tattoos appear bright and sharp while old tattoos appear faded.

By employing a laser to heat up and break down the ink particles, laser tattoo removal speeds up the procedure. Because the ink particles have shrunk in size, your white blood cells can now “eat” them, removing them from your skin and transporting them to your liver for disposal. The ink particles get smaller and smaller after repeated sessions, and you’ll notice that your tattoo has lightened or even vanished completely.

Technology for removing tattoos with lasers

Before you can grasp how lasers work, you must first understand what tattoos are When you receive a tattoo, ink molecules are incorporated intravenously into the dermis, the second layer of skin beneath the epidermis. Because our immune systems are as sophisticated as they are, they rapidly recognize the ink as a foreign body and deploy white blood cells to attack it. Regrettably, for white blood cells (but happily for tattoo fans), ink hues can be up to 100 times the size of white blood cells, giving them no chance. Apart from some progressive tearing down and fading over time, this is how they become permanent. Lasers, on the other hand, have been designed to efficiently break down ink pigments, allowing the immune system to digest them.

Watt describes the current status of tattoo removal technology as “very variable.” There are a few distinct lasers that are typically used in laser tattoo removal, each with a different approach to tattoo removal. Currently, the most prevalent are q-switched lasers, which use extremely high energy to generate nanosecond pulses 

The laser pulses heat up the ink in a tattoo, reaching temperatures of thousands of degrees in some cases. This radiation stretches and splits up the tattoo ink molecules, allowing white blood cells in the surrounding region to remove them via the lymphatic system. While this may appear to be remarkable, the stored heat can ‘spill’ out into the surrounding skin, causing discomfort and damage. The laser can also induce ‘frosting,’ which is a brief white bubbly effect caused by carbon dioxide bubbles produced by the laser’s action rising to the top layer of skin.

Then there are Pico-second lasers, which are a relatively newer technology. Pico-lasers, like Q-switched lasers, use extremely fast pulses to transport energy; however, they release energy in picoseconds, which is similar to 1000 nanoseconds. As a result, energy can be delivered in a shorter time period with Picosecond lasers, potentially reducing the time for burning or other adverse effects. 

Tattoo removal stages

Prior to having your first treatment with laser tattoo removal, you should expect to speak with a professional, experienced technician or member of the team. When you’re happy with your consultation, the next step is to have your tattoo plotted and imaged with dermatoscopy, a specialist tool.

You could be able to perceive a shift in your tattoo after a session, but it may not be as noticeable at some other times. Even if you can’t see your tattoo from session to session, the dermatoscopy procedure will help to clarify how it’s fading. A patch test may be required in some cases; this involves layering different portions of your tattoo to see how the colors, lines, and forms react. After 24 hours, you can begin the removal process.

When it pertains to tattoo upkeep, make sure you maintain the tattooed area clean at all times. Give it a gentle wash with water and a fragrance-free cleanser twice a day, and then gently apply a nourishing aftercare cream (again, fragrance-free). It’s also a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothes around the treated region, as well as impermeable dressings and hydrogels that keep the skin healing while still allowing air in.

Is it safe to remove a tattoo?

Tattoo removal is generally thought to be a safe procedure, according to the NHS: ‘Having a tattoo removed is usually safe if done by an experienced and adequately certified practitioner.’ Newer technology, in particular, is designed to reduce side effects including burns and skin damage, and is controlled by the CE Mark (in Europe) or FDA approval (in the United States) (in the US). It’s a good idea to double-check that the gadget you’re getting treated with has the CE Mark or FDA authorization – the clinic should be able to tell you. This guarantees that the clinic has done its homework and is using technology that has been approved as a very safe method of tattoo removal.


I am a tech writer with over 6 years of experience writing about a variety of tech topics, including software, hardware, and the latest trends in the tech industry. I have a passion for writing clear and concise articles that are easy to understand for both technical and non-technical audiences.

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