Getting a tattoo can be a major milestone for some people, but many may come to regret the ink and want to have it removed.

According to estimates, in the USA, at least 10 in 100 people have a tattoo and among them almost 50% want to get their tattoo removed. With the advancements made in medical technology, the tattoos, which were once regarded as permanent, can now be removed successfully using laser tattoo removal techniques.


During a tattoo removal session, a specialized laser that incorporates Q-switched technology is used to create extremely short pulses of high-intensity light energy directed towards the tattoo to be removed. The ink in your tattoo absorbs this laser energy and is shattered into tiny fragments, which are then removed by the scavenger cells of your immune system. For removing your tattoo effectively, you need to have repeat visits that are spaced at least 4-6 weeks apart.


According to the National Institutes of Health, Q-switched lasers are the newer types of lasers that result in minimum scarring. Treatment using Q-switched lasers is usually done after the application of a topical anesthetic, though it also depends on the tattoo location and the pain threshold of the patient. Different types of Q-switched lasers are available that are used for treating a range of tattoo pigments.

The approximate amount of laser energy to be used is determined before the treatment session and depends on the size of the tattoo. The area to be treated is cooled or chilled during treatment using a medical-grade chiller so as to lessen the pain caused by passage the of laser beam. Then a topical anesthetic is applied to the area. During the treatment process a laser beam is directed towards the ink of the tattoo that is in liquid state (the laser beam is harmless to skin). After treatment it is recommended that the patient apply to the treated area a topical antibiotic cream and a sun block when out in sun.

In the majority of cases, the tattoo fades away gradually over a 6- to 8 weeks period and your skin returns to its original condition.

The number of treatment sessions required will vary according to the size and color of your tattoo. Treatment also varies according to the age of a patient and the type of tattoo (whether done by an amateur or a professional). The removal technique also varies according to the patient’s skin color and the depth of the pigment of the tattoo.


There are minimum side effects with the Q-switched lasers. However, risk of infection and scarring should be considered before making the decision to go for laser tattoo removal.


Due to the use of newer Q-switched lasers, the tattoo removal process has become quite effective and safe with minimum scarring.

By Celina Benavides-Rivera