About the Tattoo Treatment Process
Some basic facts:
For a free estimate, please e-mail us a photo of your tattoo and answer a few simple questions and we will give you a price estimate and a time estimate. Then Dr. Ores will contact you and discuss a price estimate and a treatment plan.
Questions: Please tell us your name and contact numbers, your age, the age of the tattoo and what your tattoo plans are. For example, do you plan a cover up piece or do you intend to return to plain skin?
You are also invited to call our office anytime for a free "in person" consultation with Dr. Ores to discuss results, pricing and put together a treatment plan. Dr. Ores also works directly with your tattoo artist remove exactly the amount of ink needed for your planned cover-up.
Price is in the ballpark of $25.00 dollars per square inch for each treatment and varies somewhat with size of tattoo and number of treatments.
Be aware that the cold hard truth is that it can take anywhere from 10 treatments up to 15 treatments to completely remove a tattoo back to skin. Not two, three or four treatments.
Lightening a tattoo for cover-up is much easier and usually takes only 3 or 4 sessions.
We also like to wait 6 to 8 weeks between treatments you receive the maximum ink removal for your money.
Does it hurt?
The pain is similar to getting a tattoo when you factor in topical novacaine cream and our cold air jet machine. But, the removal time is only minutes and way faster than getting a tattoo. For larger pieces, since we are a "MD" Medical Office, oral pain control tablets can be dispensed in some cases. So we employ topical anesthetic cream, a special jet air-cooling machine and pain pills if needed as we plan the best way to reduce your discomfort to an absolute minimum.
In addition, for larger tattoos, it is also possible to prescribe a pain control pill and a sleep aid for the first night of recovery. After 24 to 48 hours post treatment, the discomfort is much reduced.
What happens in the office?
First, the skin over the tattoo is cleansed to remove any natural oils. Then we take a "before" photograph for your medical record. Next, we apply a topical anesthetic (novocaine), which minimizes the stinging effect of the intense laser light. We like to leave the novacaine cream on your skin for about two hours. You do not have to stay in the office for these two hours. You can leave and return later.
Two hours later, we wipe off the novacaine cream and apply the laser light. The laser moves over the tattoo without touching your skin. To further reduce discomfort and heating of the skin, we apply a continuous jet of very cold air directly on the treatment area during the procedure. This Zimmer cooling machine (www.zimmerusa.com/skin_cool.html) greatly reduces discomfort and minimizes the amount of heat transferred to your skin. Patients relate that this jet of cold air effectively reduces discomfort when the laser light is applied. Very few treatment centers offer the Zimmer cooling machine as a routine part of the treatment.
The size and color of your tattoo determine the length of treatment time and number of laser wavelengths that will be needed. Different ink colors require different wavelengths of laser light. The Medlite C6 machine produces four different wavelengths for different ink colors.
As an example, a tattoo roughly 4" x 4" in size would take approximately 3 minutes to treat. Most patients tolerate treatment well and report the treatment as feeling similar to rubber band snaps. After your treatment, a healing cream is applied and your tattoo is covered with a protective dressing for about 24 hours. There is swelling, puffiness and there can be small blisters and some small areas of bleeding / scabbing from the intense heat. You skin recovers from the laser heat injury in about a week. As the next seven weeks go by, your skin cells and other immune cells will slowly remove the tiny ink particles, which have been "broken up" by the laser treatment. Your tattoo fades away.
After about a week you will not need any sort of bandage, but you must avoid sun exposure every day of the year. Use #30 sun block everyday. Also, cover the area with clothing (if feasible) to reduce UV light exposure as much as possible.
What results can I expect?
The first week after your laser treatment are about healing. The can be some raised skin, a small amount of bleeding and there can also be blisters filled with fluid. Gently wash the treated area twice a day with warm soapy water and keep the area clean and dry with a paper towel dressing. After about a week the treated area will "heal". Then, over the next few weeks the tattoo will begin to slowly, day by day, fade away. The precise results and appearance of your tattoo vary from patient to patient. After each treatment session you will see the tattoo become lighter.
Due to variables such as color of ink, the chemical composition of ink, amount of ink injected into your skin when the tattoo was placed, your skin's immune ability to remove the disrupted ink particles and even your natural skin color. All these variables effect how quickly your tattoo will fade and how many treatments you will need. Also, a planned cover-up will need many less treatments than a patient who wants their tattoo "completely gone" and returned back to regular skin. To remove the last 10% or 15 % of ink takes more treatment sessions.
Lastly, if you are planning a cover-up, we prefer to work with your tattoo artist to decide how much fading is needed to allow your next tattoo to cover. Obviously, darker richer colors cover better than light wispy lighter colors. So you need to work closely with your artist to decide how far we have to go in terms of ink removal. Dr. Ores will also re-treat small; tiny bits or areas of your old tattoo, when requested by your tattoo artist to help you get the best possible cover up.
Pre Treatment Instructions
If there is hair over the tattoo, shaving before treatment is recommended. Do use any oils creams or make-up over your tattoo before treatment.
A healing cream (Silvadene) and dressing will be applied to the treated area, which you need to leave on for 24 hours post treatment. You will need to avoid all exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet light until your laser treatment is totally completed. Use a number 30 SPF sun block lotion everyday regardless of the weather. Gently wash the area as described above, twice a day. If you any after care questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Ores and we will be happy to help you.
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