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October 28, 2020

Laser tattoo removal: benefits, costs and risks

Laser tattoo removal

Tattoos have become a popular form of body jewelry in modern times. They are now available in all kinds of designs, sizes and colors. They can be customized down to the smallest detail according to the person’s ideas and wishes. A visit to the tattoo artist is not always a pleasant experience. In some cases, the quality of the result is disappointing. On the other hand, tattoos can also lose their appeal over time so that the person wishes to have them removed. Laser treatment for tattoo removal in Berlin has developed further in recent years, making it possible to lighten various tattoo colors and tattoo thicknesses and, in the best case, even fade them so much that they are no longer noticeable to the naked eye. The following news article reveals how the treatment works, what advantages there are, what costs can be expected and whether there are any disadvantages.

(Image: © stanislav_uvarov – stock.adobe.com)

What exactly happens during tattoo removal?

The aim of “laser removal” of tattoos is to gradually fade the images on the skin. To do this, the color pigments in the tissue are destroyed so that they can be absorbed by the body in tiny pieces and finally removed.

During treatment, the special laser emits very short light pulse waves. These are absorbed by the color pigments of the tattoo in the skin. The resulting excess energy is converted into vibration, causing the color pigments to literally shatter. These tiny fragmented particles are then distributed in the body’s lymphatic system and bloodstream, where they are passed on.

The upper skin layer (epidermis) is hardly affected by the treatment. The short-wave light pulses generate only minimal heating in the tissue. For additional cooling, we use a cooling hose in our Weißensee skin center, which emits a continuous stream of air at four degrees Celsius. This makes the treatment as comfortable as possible for our patients, because tattoo removal is still not completely painless. If desired, a special anesthetic cream can also be applied to the skin areas in advance so that the sensation of pain is eliminated as far as possible.

What are the advantages of laser tattoo removal?

Tattoos tell very specific stories, but not every one of these stories is something you want to wear on your skin for a lifetime. Laser treatment offers the possibility of removing tattoos again. The method is comparatively gentle, as no surgical intervention such as tissue removal is necessary and the upper layer of skin remains as intact as possible. The risk of scarring is relatively minimal with modern lasers. The individual treatment sessions (with preparation and follow-up) usually last only 30 minutes, sometimes up to 40 minutes. However, it must be taken into account that several sessions are necessary until the tattoo fades as desired.

What are the costs for tattoo removal?

Tattoos are individual. The treatment costs for tattoo removal are similar. Depending on the size and intensity of the tattoo, the number of treatments required varies from patient to patient. The costs vary accordingly. On average, patients should be prepared to pay around 100 euros per session. Dr. Kors discusses the specific costs in a personal consultation with the patient before the first treatment.

Possible problems with tattoo removal

Laser treatment for tattoo removal is usually associated with two main problems. Tiny particles can remain in the tissue when the color pigments are blown up. As the different colors do not react uniformly to the light pulses, different wavelengths are required to be able to address all colors. The remaining color particles can lead to allergies or other side effects. There are not yet enough studies on these risks, so it is not yet certain what role the color particles can play in the tissue – both in the intact tattoo and after laser treatment.

A second unpleasant side effect of tattoo removal is the discomfort associated with the treatment. This means that unpleasant sensations and – depending on the individual pain threshold – pain can occur during the laser treatment, which can be reduced with cooling and anesthetic ointment if possible. Redness and swelling usually occur after laser treatment. The skin can heat up and form crusts. The areas are often sensitive to touch and can be painful. This can be an emotional burden for patients, as complete tattoo removal usually takes some time. There is a break of at least eight weeks between each session, which means that tattoo removal can take several months to two years.

In our practice, we therefore offer our patients comprehensive aftercare to reduce the unavoidable side effects and discomfort of laser treatment as much as possible. We would be happy to inform you personally about suitable methods and home remedies to support your skin regeneration. We usually provide patients with soothing pads that can be applied to the sensitive areas of skin and provide important moisture. This can actively alleviate the typical symptoms.

Who is allowed to perform tattoo removal?

From 1 January 2021, a legal regulation will come into force that states that only doctors are authorized to carry out laser treatments such as tattoo removal. Previously, tattoo studios and beauticians were also allowed to offer the treatment. The Ordinance on Protection against Harmful Effects of Non-ionizing Radiation in Human Use (NiSV) aims to provide patients with the best possible protection against the harmful effects of radiation. If tattoo removal is carried out by a layperson, this can lead to burns, for example. Furthermore, the person using the device may miss a melanoma (black skin cancer) due to a lack of qualification, which delays the diagnosis and treatment of the skin cancer. For this reason, only licensed doctors will be allowed to perform laser tattoo removal in future.

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