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Does Tattoo Removal Leave Scars?

December 08, 2020

Does Tattoo Removal Leave Scars?

Getting your tattoo may have seemed like a good idea at the time, and maybe it represents something that was once meaningful to you. Now you’re at a point in your life where you no longer wish to see this reminder and regret getting it in the first place. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone: according to a 2015 Harris Poll, 23% of Americans ages 18 to 29 regret getting their tattoo. Fortunately, advances in removal procedures have made it possible to remove once permanent tattoos.

HOW TATTOOS ARE REMOVED

Laser removal is the gold standard of tattoo removal procedures. After the first laser application for tattoo removal in 1963, the scientific community focused on developing lasers based on the concept of tissue destruction by ablation. The result was continuous wave lasers, which only partially removed the tattoo pigments and ultimately caused significant scarring. A solution to these drawbacks was found when Q-switched lasers became commercially available in the early 1990s.

Lasers work by the phenomenon of photothermolysis, which means that a light beam (photo) hits a specific pigment target and heats it up (thermo), causing it to break apart into microscopic bits (lysis) that are absorbed into the bloodstream and removed from the body. The faster the pulse of energy is delivered, the less the surrounding tissue absorbs unwanted heat, and the less damage there is to normal skin. Here are some of the most popular and effective lasers used in tattoo removal;

Q-switched Nanosecond Lasers: Laser technology for tattoo removal has seen great advances over the years. Initially dermatologists used “continuous wave” CO2 or argon lasers, which heated the surrounding tissue excessively leading to higher risk of burning and scarring. Newer Q-switch technology allows the energy wave to target the pigment in the tattoo with less harm to the skin around it by changing the pattern of how the energy is delivered. The most common lasers today use Q-switched wave shapes delivering laser pulses that each last a nanosecond (one billionth of a second).

Q-switched Picosecond Laser: Until very recently, nanosecond technology was state of the art, but in 2013, the FDA cleared the PicoSure™ Q-switched alexandrite laser, the only laser in the world that uses picosecond pulse durations (one trillionth of a second). This much shorter pulse duration hits the pigment particles faster and harder so they break into even smaller pieces which allows the body to clear the ink faster, with less damage risk to the surrounding skin than with nanosecond lasers. The picosecond laser is also more effective at removing difficult colors, and is associated with less discomfort after each session.

The laser technique can safely remove only one layer of ink at a time, but a tattoo is created by injecting multiple layers of insoluble ink into the dermis. Consequently, laser tattoo removal can take between six and twenty treatments depending on the amount and color of ink. Treatment sessions must be spaced at least one month apart to prevent adverse effects. Black ink is the easiest to remove. Yellow, green, or blue tattoo ink is difficult to remove and can typically only be faded. Results also depend on the depth of the tattoo. According to William J. Hedden, MD, a Birmingham plastic surgeon, sometimes the laser can’t be absorbed deeply enough to remove the tattoo, which can leave a bruise-like area in place of the tattoo.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, side effects from tattoo removal procedures are more common when performed by someone who lacks medical training, such as a tattoo artist or an aesthetician. You should always seek a dermatologist for your tattoo removal needs as they have medical training in the techniques of tattoo removal and also prioritize the safety and health of your skin. If the laser causes scabs consider using a silicone gel like NewGel+E to prevent scars from forming over the tattoo.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT SCARRING

So what can you do about scarring after a tattoo removal procedure? Clinical studies have shown that silicone gel and sheeting are considered the first-line therapy to manage and minimize scarring, including scars after tattoo removal procedures. In fact, silicone gel products are the only topical treatments recommended by the scar experts who create scar treatment guidelines for other doctors.

NewGel+ offers the widest variety of silicone scar treatment products available, ranging from silicone strips, sheets, shapes, and two tube sizes of topical silicone gel. All of these products have been demonstrated to be a successful treatment for a variety of scar types, both old and new. Whether you’ve just had a tattoo removed or you’ve had a scar from a tattoo removal for quite some time, NewGel+ has a product that will be the perfect fit for your unique scar needs. Find your perfect match by browsing our product collection now.