laser tattoo removal

laser tattoo removal

Even if France does not really have the culture of tattooing like certain countries of the North, it does not prevent the phenomenon gaining momentum. With their direct corollary: tattoo removal, which is also on the increase, according to the figures given during the Dermatological Days in Paris in December 2015. Dr. Thierry Fusade, dermatologist, confirms this:

“I am being asked more and more for tattoo removal, not necessarily so that I no longer have a tattoo at all. Sometimes the person just wants to change it because the tattoo no longer matches their state of mind. »

Different lasers depending on the color of the tattoo

To remove a tattoo, the dermatologist or aesthetic doctor will use a laser. “It is a photomechanical impact. The idea is to fragment the ink drops in the skin, until they reach the critical size of 5 or 10 microns: they are then resorbed by the body. The objective is to make ink dust”, explains Dr. Jean-Michel Mazer, dermatologist.

The choice of laser – which is characterized among other things by its wavelength – is made according to the color of the tattoo:

  • To reach the Red color in the skin, you need a KTP laser. Orange or brown are also treated with the Yag laser.
  • Blue or green: often an Alexandrite laser.
  • Of black : Alexandrite or Yag laser.

Q Switch or picosecond laser tattoo removal?

On the technology side, the Q Switch – for which we can have KTPof the’Alexandrite or yag – is commonly used. But there is a debate between experts on the comparative advantages of the technologies of the Q Switch or the so-called “picosecond” laserthe most recent, which is also the fastest… and the most expensive.

  • On the one hand, the Q Switch is cheaper but the treatment lasts longer because you can only do sessions every two months, until the scabs induced by the laser are healed.
  • On the other hand, the picosecond allows for closer sessions – every month – which matters when, in the total duration of treatment, we go from two years to one year; but it is more expensive. Dr. Mazer, proponent of picoseconds, explains: “20 to 30% of patients stop the treatment before the end, because of the duration of the latter. I think the time saving of the picosecond is a big advantage. »

How much does laser tattoo removal cost?

In all cases the treatment remains long, and you have to anticipate its tattoo removal.

“I often come across the classic case of the young woman who comes to remove a tattoo because she is getting married in three months. I then explain to him that it is impossible to remove a tattoo so quickly, that it is better to change the shape of the dress, ”says Dr. Fusade.

  • With the Q Switch, count from 5 to 15 sessions spaced two months apart. The vast majority of tattoos require less than 10 sessions. From 150 to 300 € per session.
  • With a picosecond laser, count a few fewer sessions for the same tattoo (for example 12 rather than 15 in Q Switch), spaced out by a month. From 300 to 400 € per session.

How many sessions are needed to remove a tattoo?

All consultants insist on one point:

“It is complicated to accurately predict the number of sessions needed to remove a tattoo, especially when the tattoo is polychrome, with many different colors,” says Dr. Fusade.

For example, a green tattoo results from pigment compositions which, although giving the same hue, can be very different. The dermatologist can hardly tell the difference upstream, and the colors will not leave at the same speed depending on their base molecules.

Blue and green tattoos harder to get rid of

Although each tattoo is unique, it is recognized that red tattoos are the easiest to remove, as well as black ones. The hardest to remove are bruises and greens.

“The picosecond laser is especially interesting in Alexandrite to treat black, but also blue and green, which are the most difficult colors to remove,” explains Dr. Mazer.

Namely: the picosecond is also indicated to treat the “remains” of tattoos – dermatologists sometimes speak of the “ghost” effect – these particles which act as a light veil resistant to the Q Switch.

“Finally, we must consider skin pigmentation. On dark skin, the Q Switch laser in KTP version will be too absorbed by melanin and may cause depigmentation. It is therefore necessary to favor Alexandrite or Nd Yag lasers. But red tattoos only respond to KTP… It is therefore very difficult to remove a red tattoo on very pigmented skin,” adds Jean-Michel Mazer.

Hiding a tattoo with another tattoo, a good idea?

“The covering tattoo must be two to three times larger than the first tattoo, if you want to have an aesthetic result,” explains Loïc, a professional tattoo artist.

The design of the second tattoo will necessarily be designed according to the first. We can only mount the colors, impossible to make a light tattoo on a dark tattoo. Sometimes a laser session can be useful to adjust, fade.

What to know before getting a tattoo

Advice from Dr. Fusade:

  • do not get tattooed on socially exposed areas: not on the forearms, ankles or neck;
  • for a woman, no tattoo on the neckline because the area ages a lot;
  • avoid a tattoo too loaded with pigments, or colors in all directions, and blues and greens, prefer red, shaded, fine lines, scrolls, easier to remove, softer.


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