Tattoo removal uses laser technology to remove this otherwise permanent form of body art. For thousands of years, tattoos have been a means for people to express their individuality, religious beliefs, and group affiliations. Many people today have a deeply personal connection to their tattoos, while others view it as an art form simply for the purpose of decoration. Whether it’s large or small, colored or monochromatic, some people find themselves unhappy with one or more of their tattoos. It may not accurately represent their identity anymore, may not match their art preference, or perhaps it was an impulsive decision. Whatever the case may be, tattoo removal has advanced enough to become an effective, permanent, safe solution for those looking to get their clear skin back.
Patients that have been feeling bothered by their tattoos can entrust Dr. Joshua Korman and his skilled team to provide them with the results they’ve been looking for. Dr. Korman couples his 20 + years of experience in cosmetic treatments and surgery with the quality, honest care that patients love. Call his locations in San Jose, CA at (669) 666-9161, Carmel-by-the-Sea at (831) 293-7182, or Mountain View at (650) 864-1725. An online free consultation form is also available for new patients to schedule at their convenience.
The Science Behind Tattoos
When a tattoo is applied, the needle penetrates 1.5 to 2 mm into the surface of the skin at about 100 times per second. The immune system reacts to these tiny wounds- sending white blood cells to attack the foreign material. While these cells usually fight off microbes and harmful bacteria, they are unable to remove the ink, so it remains permanently within the dermis layer of the skin. As the tattoo ages, the ink retreats further into the dermis which can cause unwanted blurring. Many people find that this process makes their tattoos unappealing. (1)
Although tattoos can be quite beautiful and intricate, there are still some risks involved. While most of the ink remains within the dermis, some particles make their way into the body’s lymph nodes, immune system structures that fight infection and cancer cells. Tattoo ink manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients, and there hasn’t been much research on its affect in the human body. The ink has been found to have polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals found in crude coil and coal), primary aromatic amines (chemicals derived from ammonia) and heavy metals- ingredients that can be toxic and cause cancer. (2)
Laser tattoo removal, especially the picosecond laser, has been proven the most effective method of tattoo removal. (3) With a laser treatment, you can not only remove the tattoo itself, but it can help the body rid itself of ink ingredients without harming the skin. Dr. Korman offers Pico Way, the latest laser tattoo removal device that was approved by the FDA in 2012.
How Do Lasers Work?
Laser tattoo removal was first developed in the 1960s, but it has gradually advanced it be more skin-safe and allow for the targeting of specific pigments. As the laser heats the pigment, it is able to break it down so that it’s reabsorbed into the bloodstream and removed from the body.
Each type of laser emits light at a wavelength measured in nanometers (nm). Certain pigments can be erased more effectively at specific wavelengths.
- 532 nm lasers target red, yellow, brown, and orange pigments.
- 694 and 755 nm lasers target black, green and blue.
- 1064 nm lasers target black and blue. (3)
Why is the PicoWay a Superior Laser?
Historically, q-switched lasers were the most effective tattoo removal treatments available. The term “q-switched” is used to signify lasers that emit light with only nanoseconds in between each pulse. While this was definitely a feat of engineering, recent studies suggest that picosecond lasers require shorter treatment sessions and have improved results. (4) There are only picoseconds in between each pulse of a picosecond laser, meaning that it is able to treat within a shorter amount of time. Picosecond lasers can adjust to 532, 694, 755 and 1064 nm and are safe for all skin types presented on the Fitzpatrick scale. (3)
What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?
The Fitzpatrick scale is incredibly relevant when it comes to how different skin tones respond to different lasers. Before any laser procedure, patients should be aware of which skin type they are:
- Type I: Pale white skin that always gets sunburnt.
- Type II: White skin that can tan sometimes.
- Type III: Medium white or olive skin that can tan easily.
- Type IV: Olive skin that rarely burns.
- Type V: Dark brown skin that very rarely burns.
- Type VI: Very dark brown skin that never burns.
People with types IV through VI have more melanin in their skin, making them more susceptible to hypopigmentation, or unwanted lightening of the skin. The pulses recognize melanin as a chromophore. Due to this, 1064 nm lasers are recommended for people with darker skin to avoid damage. These types of laser are able to penetrate deeper into the skin and avoid damage.
Almost anyone wanting a tattoo removal and who is able to follow preparations instructions are candidates for the procedure. If someone is in good overall health, has no blood-clotting disorders or major issues with their immune system, they should respond well to the treatment and get the results they desire.
Dr. Korman is passionate about cosmetic surgery, skincare wellness, and sharing his knowledge with all of his patients. He founder of Reonstructive Technologies, a company that develops device to repair damaged skin. He, alongside Dr. Daria Maldonando developed the MD Confidential Skin Care brand that has gotten the attention of several Hollywood A-listers.
With the PicoWay laser treatment device, your skin is in good hands. To make an appointment, schedule a free consultation online or call his location in San Jose, CA at (669) 666-9161, Carmel-by-the-Sea at (831) 293-7182, or Mountain View at (650) 864-1725.
Procedure Steps for Laser Tattoo Removal
During your procedure, a technician cleanses the patient’s skin before applying a topical anesthetic onto the treatment area. Then, they will ensure that they and the patient have eyewear in place to protect them from the harsh light of the laser. After about 30 minutes, or once the numbing cream has taken effect, they will then apply the PicoWay hand piece over the tattoo, where it emits pulses of energy over several passes. The entire session takes only 15-20 minutes for a small tattoo, but it may one hour for a large one. Keep in mind that very large tattoos may require a lidocaine injection in order to ensure comfort during the procedure. Many patients describe that the treatment feels like rubber bands snapping on their skin. After the session is over, the area will be treated with an antibacterial ointment and protected with a bandage.
For the first 20 minutes after your procedure, patients usually notice that their skin is lighter on the treated area. For the next couple of hours, it will become more red and swollen; it may remain that way for the next 2 days. It is also normal to notice a tiny amount of blood around the site immediately after the procedure. We always provide patients with antibacterial ointment to take home and apply daily for proper healing. As the skin heals, you’ll want to avoid sun exposure or apply a sunscreeen with SPF 30 or more in order to prevent hyperpigmenation- darkening of the skin.
Most patients require at least 4 sessions of laser tattoo removal to get results they are satisfied with. With every session, patients will notice that their tattoo looks more “dissolved” as if it’s slowly disappearing. Dr. Korman advises patients to wait at least month in between each session.
Cost of Tattoo Removal in San Jose, CA
The cost of your tattoo will depend on the size of your tattoo/s and the number of sessions you will need to remove it. A personal consultation can clear up all of your concerns on price.
Can the PicoWay laser be used to treat skin conditions?
Besides tattoo removal, PicoWay is FDA-approved to treat wrinkles, sun spots, acne scars, melasma, and other types of hyperpigmentation.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
During laser tattoo removal, you’ll receive an injection of lidocaine or a topical numbing cream to ensure you don’t feel significant discomfort. Many patients say that the treatment feels like a rubber band snapping at times.
Who can’t receive laser tattoo removal?
If you are have active acne, an active skin infection, or are currently being treated for a skin condition, you won’t be able to receive a laser tattoo removal treatment.
Does laser tattoo removal work for all skin types?
Some lasers work better than others for specific skin types. The picosecond laser is the most optimal for all skin types due to the ability for doctors to adjust its light pulses to several different wavelengths. A 1064 nm laser is ideal and safer for people with darker skin.
How can I heal faster from laser tattoo removal?
By avoiding the sun, wearing loose clothing around the treatment area, and applying vaseline or an antibiotic cream daily, your skin can heal faster after a treatment session.
- Grant CA, Twigg PC, Baker R, Tobin DJ. Tattoo ink nanoparticles in skin tissue and fibroblasts. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. 2015;6:1183-1191. doi:https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.6.120
- Negi S, Bala L, Shukla S, Chopra D. Tattoo inks are toxicological risks to human health: A systematic review of their ingredients, fate inside skin, toxicity due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, primary aromatic amines, metals, and overview of regulatory frameworks. Toxicology and Industrial Health. 2022;38(7):417-434. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/07482337221100870
- Henley JK, Zurfley F, Ramsey ML. Laser Tattoo Removal. PubMed. Published 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK442007/
- Pedrelli V, Azzopardi E, Azzopardi E, Tretti Clementoni M. Picosecond laser versus historical responses to Q-switched lasers for tattoo treatment. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2020;22(4-5):210-214. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/14764172.2021.1886307