Tattoos are thought to be permanent, but there are ways to remove them either partially or completely. In the past, tattoo removal was usually accomplished through surgical procedures that removed layers of skin until the layer containing the tattoo ink was removed. These days, tattoo removal can be performed with lasers that penetrate the skin and break apart tattoo pigments. Laser tattoo removal is non-invasive and can be performed much more easily than previous methods. It also has a much higher rate of success, with black and darker-colored inks often being removed completely.
Most laser tattoo removal is completed using Q-switch lasers that use pulsed output beams that are much more powerful than lasers operating on a continuous wave output. Q-switch lasers first became commercially available in the 1990s, but they continue to be widely used for tattoo removal, with clinics likely placing an order today for a new unit.
How Lasers Remove Tattoos
When a laser is used in tattoo removal, the light from the laser is absorbed by the tattoo’s pigment. The pigment breaks apart, with some fragments being pushed near the surface of the skin where they can be easily removed. Other remnants of the pigment will simply be absorbed and eliminated by the body’s lymphatic system. The process is relatively quick and painless compared to other tattoo removal techniques, and it has a much higher success rate.