By far the most popular and effective method of removing tattoos currently is the laser removal. During laser treatment, pulses of light are emitted and enter the skin; the energy of the pulses is absorbed by the tattoo pigment. The pigment reacts with the light and is broken down. A low grade inflammation results, and the skin needs several weeks to recover.
Patients may have as many as twelve treatments over a year, but often should wait six weeks or more between treatments. Results vary, and are affected by many factors. Some tattoos can be removed with as little as four to six laser treatments, but others can require as many as eighteen visits over two years. Experts now warn that some tattoos may never be completely removed.
The effectiveness of laser treatments can depend on the color and the age of the tattoo. Older tattoos can be easier to remove, since tattoos naturally degrade over time. Also, the newer inks have proven to be more resistant to laser removal than older ones, because of the different ingredients. This means that older tattoos can be removed more easily.
Tattoos of black and blue ink are often easier to remove than tattoos of brigher colors like green and yellow. In fact, these lighter ones may never be entirely invisible to the naked eye, even after many laser treatments.
The practitioner of laser removal may give you local anesthesia, and may not. This depends upon their preferences and your own. The pain can be compared to the feeling of a grease splatter on the skin, according to many people. Sometimes your skin will bleed, sometimes it will not.
The cost of these ongoing treatments adds up. On average, you can expect to pay $75 per square inch to remove your tattoos with a laser.
For more in-depth information about laser removal, please see our longer article, "Laser Tattoo Removal".