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Frequently Asked Tattoo Removal Questions

Ready to get that tattoo removed? You’re not alone! 50 million Americans have tattoos, and about 50% of those regret it and want it removed or changed. If you have questions about Laser Tattoo Removal, explore our frequently asked questions.

How does laser tattoo removal work?
Does it really work?
Does tattoo removal hurt?
How many treatments will it take to lighten it enough to recover it with another tattoo?
What is the procedure like?
How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
How is PicoSure™ different than other tattoo removal laser systems?
Is PicoSure safe?
How do I know if I'm a good candidate for PicoSure?
Is PicoSure tattoo removal painful?
I have a multi-colored tattoo. Can PicoSure help?

How does Laser Tattoo Removal work?
Laser light is calibrated to direct an intense beam of light at the tattoo. The light is calibrated by the laser to be a certain wavelength so that the pigment molecules absorb the laser energy and burst into small fragments. The body's lymphatic system will then carry away the pigment fragments, which will then be excreted from the body.

Each laser treatment destroys and removes the pigment closest to the skin surface. That top layer may take approximately four weeks to be absorbed before the deeper tattoo pigment can be treated. So, laser tattoo removal is done one layer at a time.

Does it really work?
Some tattoos will respond only partially, while others will completely disappear. There are many factors involved in the equation: location of tattoo, the depth of the placement, the color of the ink, the health/lifestyle of the patient, and the tattoo removal system. For example, tattoo removal in smokers typically takes more treatments; diabetes also slows the process of removal. Patients who opt for PicoSure™ tattoo removal generally experience more effective tattoo removal with fewer treatments.

Does tattoo removal hurt?
Yes, there is some pain associated when the laser makes contact with the skin, although PicoSure™ is less painful than traditional tattoo removal. Patients often refer to this as similar to hot bacon grease hitting the skin. We use numbing medication, applied topically 15 minutes prior. The good news is that it only lasts as long as the procedure is done (less than one minute). After your tattoo laser removal treatment, you can expect redness, heat, possible blistering, and itching for the next few days. We ask you keep the area covered for about a week.

How long will it take?
Depending on the color, type, depth, size of the tattoo, and laser removal system, it may disappear in as little as five treatments. Our PicoSure™ tattoo removal system requires fewer treatments that traditional tattoo removal and is more effective at eliminating stubborn ink areas. In some cases, complete removal is not desired. The tattoo artist may want the area lightened before recovering with a different image, such as changing from Mickey to Daffy. However, always clear tattoo modification with your artist. For example, we know that many artists won't touch someone else's work.

While the number of required treatments depends on the size, locations, colors, and age of the tattoo, we can assure you that PicoSure™ requires fewer treatments than traditional tattoo removal.

My tattoo is multi-colored. Will it work?
Our laser works on all colors of the spectrum, but black, dark blue and yellow are most successfully removed. Red and green are the hardest colors to remove and may never completely resolve. All of the colors will take multiple treatments to achieve the desired result.

How many treatments will it take to lighten it enough to recover it with another tattoo?
It may take as little as 2, but we recommend you work with your tattoo artist to decide the goals for lightening and recovering.

What is the procedure like?
First, we place a numbing lotion on the tattoo, after 15 minutes we remove the topical cream. Then the laser beam rapidly moves across the tattoo. If the tattoo has several colors, the laser is adjusted for each color and we may have to make several passes over the tattoo.

The laser makes a rapid popping sound as the beam fires each time. The entire treatment session is quick, with total treatment time usually taking only 30 to 60 seconds. The short treatment time is fortunate, since each laser burst definitely hurts - patients often say it feels like hot bacon grease is being dripped on the skin. Our PicoSure™ tattoo removal system is generally less painful than a traditional laser system.

As soon as the laser stops firing, we cool the area with an ice roller and the pain immediately goes away. Aquaphor is then spread on the site and a dressing is applied. Although you can shower the following day, we want you to keep the site covered with a dressing otherwise. You can expect any/all of the following: swelling, redness, scabbing, light bleeding, blistering and fading.

How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
The cost varies, depending on the removal system and tattoo size. Our investment section has additional detail on PicoSure pricing.

How is PicoSure™ different than other tattoo removal laser systems?
PicoSure laser tattoo removal uses picosecond (trillionth of a second) laser technology that is 100 times faster than nanosecond technology. As a result, the PicoSure™ system breaks up tattoos faster than traditional lasers and requires fewer office visits. In addition, PicoSure™ is more effective on stubborn ink colors (blues and greens) and is able to treat benign pigment lesions such as brown spots.

Is PicoSure™ safe?
Yes, it is FDA-approved technology performed by our Medical Director, Michael Gurney, MD.

How do I know if I'm a good candidate for PicoSure™?
The best way is to schedule a free skin consultation with JdV. However, here are some general guidelines: 1) you have a tattoo with stubborn ink colors and want to ensure the best possible outcome, 2) you have color "remnants" leftover from a previously treated tattoo, 3) you want to remove your tattoo in as few visits as possible, 4) you have benign pigment lesions.

Is it less painful than traditional tattoo removal?
While there is some pain associated with the procedure, PicoSure™ is less painful and requires less visits than traditional laser removal. If minimizing pain is important to you, this is the way to go.

I have a multi-colored tattoo. Can PicoSure™ help?
Studies show that PicoSure™ is effective, even on black, green, blue, and yellow tattoos. With PicoSure™, you're assured of a better outcome in fewer visiting than with conventional Q-Yag laser removal. Red and green are the hardest colors to remove and may never completely resolve. All of the colors will take multiple treatments to achieve the desired result.

Tattoo removal is an involved process, but if you have “Tim” on your shoulder and you're marrying Bill...it is well worth it! Otherwise, say hello to Photoshop!

Choose a trusted medical professional to perform these treatments. At Joie de Vivre, a Canton, Ohio based laser and medical spa, we believe looking and feeling your best boosts overall happiness. If you are ready for a tattoo removal procedure, contact us to schedule an appointment.

View tattoo removal before and after photos or schedule your free tattoo removal consultation today.

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*Individual results may apply. Each person’s skin is unique and reacts differently to different products and treatments. An in-store skin consultation is suggested before getting started on any treatments.