Tattoo Removal

Newhope Laser Skin Care -  - Aesthetic Specialist

Phuong Q. Tien, MD

Aesthetic Specialist located in Orange County, Westminster, CA

Tattoo Removal Specialist
Dr. Tien serves patients throughout the Westminster, Orange County area of California at Newhope Laser Skin Care. Here at Newhope Laser Skin Care, Dr. Tien offers many aesthetic services including innovative, laser tattoo removal.

Tattoo Removal Q & A

What Kind of Tattoos Are Being Removed at Newhope Laser Skin Care?


1. PROFESSIONAL TATTOOS:  Done by a professional tattoo artist with a tattoo machine (coil or rotary); either at a tattoo shop or private studio. These tattoos are created with high quality, professionally manufactured pigments in a variety of colors that are known to withstand the test of time.

2. AMATEUR TATTOOS:  Usually done at home or in prison.  The typical Stick-N-Poke, composed of substances such as charcoal, pen ink, soot, or whatever pigment available. This homemade pigment is then administered using makeshift tattoo machines or simply a hand-held needle.

3.  COSMETIC TATTOOS:  Semi-permanent tattoos such as eyebrows (Microblading, Ombre, etc..), lips, eyeliners, and breasts. This has become increasingly popular in recent years thus giving rise to misshapen eyebrows, mismatched colors, and Angry Birds looks. Colors such as brown, pink, and red simulate makeup when applied to eyes, cheeks, and lips or natural pigmentation such as the areola in breast reconstruction.

4.  TRAUMATIC TATTOOS: “Road Rash” results when pigment is deposited in the skin by abrasion, as seen in bike, car or motorcycle accident or by explosive forces. The asphalt materials become lodged in the dermis after re-epithelialization of the wound and result in blue or black tattoos, depending on their depth.

5. MEDICAL TATTOOS: Created for medicine purpose such as those used in radiation therapy.

 

How Does Tattoo Removal Work?

Laser energy breaks down the tattoo ink pigments deep underneath the skin, then the body’s immune system absorbed and slowly flush out all the broken pigments through the liver over the course of 2 months.  Essentially, you’d be peeing out your broken tattoo ink pigments gradually over time; it’s kind of gross and cool at the same time.  The idea is quite simple; laser breaks it down; immune system flushes it out.  Rinse and repeat the entire process every 8-10 weeks until mission accomplished, be it lighten up the unwanted tattoo or completely remove. 

The process of breaking down tattoo ink pigments is called the photomechanical effect. In this situation, the energy is absorbed by the ink particles in a very short time, typically nanoseconds, a billionth of a second or picoseconds, a trillionth of a second.  The surface temperature of the ink particles can rise to thousands of degrees, but this energy profile rapidly collapses into a shock wave. This shock wave then propagates throughout the local tissue (the dermis) causing brittle structures to fragment. Hence tissues are largely unaffected since they simply vibrate as the shock wave passes. For laser tattoo removal the selective destruction of tattoo pigments depends on 3 factors: High power within the right wavelength over an extremely short period of time.

  1. Sufficient energy must be delivered during each laser pulse to penetrate sufficiently deep in the skin and heat the pigment to fragmentation. If the energy is too low, pigment will not fragment, and no removal will take place.  (Power)
  2. The color of the laser light must be more highly absorbed by the tattoo pigment than the surrounding skin. Different tattoo pigments therefore require different laser colors. For example, red light is highly absorbed by green tattoo pigments (Wave Length)
  3. The time duration (pulse duration) of the laser energy must be very short, the shorter the better, so that the tattoo pigment is heated to fragmentation temperature before its heat can dissipate to the surrounding skin. Otherwise, heating of the surrounding tissue can cause burns or scars. For laser tattoo removal, this duration should be on the order of nanoseconds or preferably picoseconds (picosecond is a thousand time faster than nanosecond, thus reduces skin collateral damage drastically).  (Time)

What’s the Procedure Like?

A laser tattoo removal is an outpatient procedure performed in a doctor’s office. The doctor will numb the area being treated with injectable anesthetic or numbing creams. Patients need to wear protective eye shield during the treatment. The laser beams are emitted from a hand-held wand or device that the doctor passes slowly over the skin. Afterward, surgical grade transparent film dressing will be applied on top of the treated area to accelerate the healing process. These transparent film dressings have several benefits such as water-resistance so they don’t have to be removed while bathing or showering, an antibacterial barrier that prevents pathogens and external contaminants, breathability, which lets oxygen in and allowing excess moisture vapor to be released, and flexibility which allows it to be placed anywhere on the body and will stay put for up to several days. It's advised not to go to the beach, saunas, steam baths, sunbathing, and swimming because the heat can shrink the film.

Does Tattoo Removal Hurt?

Pain responses to laser tattoo removal are varied and depend on patient’s pain tolerance. Most patients say the procedure feels similar to getting the tattoo, although some say it hurts less and some say it hurts more. The sensation is commonly described as bearable yet uncomfortable and "similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin." Some patients report feeling a pinching or burning sensation during the treatment. The Enlighten laser, due to its cutting edge technology, requires fewer treatments than previous lasers used for tattoo removal and shorter treatments also mean less pain. To further ensure the highest level of satisfaction of our patients, our board certified physician also utilize both Lidocaine injections and epidermal skin numbing technology with the Zimmer Cryo 6.  An ice pack is also applied immediately on top of the treated area after treatment to further reduce discomfort.

Are there side effects?

Side effects are to be an expected part of the tattoo removal process for most patients. The most common side effects are:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • Bruising
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation

These side effects are temporary.  Redness, tenderness, and swelling typically subside within a day or two following treatment. Blisters usually appear within 24 hours of treatment and usually resolved itself in several days.

Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation occur when the body's production of melanin is skewed after a laser treatment. With hyperpigmentation, the body overproduces melanin in reaction to the laser treatment, so skin in the treated area is darker than the natural skin tone. With hypopigmentation, the melanin is depleted by the laser treatment and the skin appears bleached. Both hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are typically temporary and resolve naturally with time. Patients with middle to darker skin tones are at the greatest risk for pigmentation changes and should avoid sun exposure the weeks following each treatment.  At Newhope Laser Skin Care, patient’s safety is paramount and it’s very important for us treat darker skin tones conservatively, using only the appropriate wavelengths and laser energy levels.  For patients with pigmentation issues, we recommend to wait until the treated area has returned to its normal skin tone before treating again.

How Many Treatments Will It Take?

Each situation is different. The color of ink, the size of the tattoo, professionally done or stick-n-poke at home, and the age of the tattoo will all affect the number of treatments. The individual's skin color can also be a factor, as darker skin tends to absorb more laser energy, leaving less energy to break down ink pigments thus making tattoo removal more difficult. There are also other factors, such as patient health, that affect the speed of removal. If a patient is young, physically fit, and has a strong immune system, they will tend to see results faster than an older, obese patient with health problems. Tattoo removal treatments fit along a bell curve with most patients need between 5 and 8 treatments for black and gray, while some will see complete removal in 3 or 4, and others may need10 or more treatments. *Colored tattoo is more resistant than black and gray and may require 30-50% additional treatments.

How much does it cost?

Our Board Certified physician typically charged a minimum of $200 per treatment, depending on size and location.  Below is Newhope Laser Skin Care’s size pricing per treatment: 

Why We use the Enlighten Laser?

To effectively remove a tattoo, the laser energy must be delivered at high power within the right wavelength over an extremely short period of time. The Enlighten is the premier solution for laser tattoo removal, featuring three unique laser wavelengths (532, 670, 1064 nm) and dual pulse durations (2 ns + 750/660 ps) with the highest use energies in its class. With a precisely adjustable laser energy level, pulse duration, wavelength, and spot-size for depth, speed, power, and safety, the Enlighten Laser has become the world's most advanced laser technology for aesthetic and tattoo removal. The verdict? SAFER, BETTER CLEARANCE, and FEWER TREATMENTS.

SPECIAL DEALS:

  • Pay As You Go:  Save money and pay per treatment as needed.  Why take chances on package deal that you may not need.  Popular for patients who want only to correct and/or lighten up their tattoos.
  • Package Deals:  Since most tattoos need an average 5-8 treatments to see complete removal, we offer 20% off a package of 5 treatments (buy 4, get 1 free).  Popular for patients who want to save money and complete removal of their tattoo.
  • 50% off on additional package of same size or smaller tattoo. Popular for patients who have multiple tattoos.
  • Discounts for Cash payment, Teachers & Students, Healthcare Professionals, Military members, civil services such as Social Workers, Police Officers, Firefighters, and Judges. (Must Have Valid IDs)
  • FREE or significantly discounted treatments for breast cancer radiation tattoos
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