The Ruby laser (also used for hair removal) produces light, that when directed at the tattoo, passes through the surface of the skin to be absorbed by the tattoo ink. This generates heat within the ink particles, resulting in their disruption into the surrounding tissues. The released ink is then gradually absorbed by the body over the ensuing weeks and months with a subsequent fading and discolouration of the tattoo. Repeat treatments are required usually at intervals of 1 – 2 months until the required endpoint is reached or the tattoo has completely disappeared.
The tattoo is covered by a series of laser pulses, each of which delivers energy to a circular area of skin a few millimetres in diameter. The treatment is a little uncomfortable,perhaps not unlike having the tattoo in the first place but this can be eased with the application of an ice pack to the skin during treatment. Immediately after treatment the tattoo will appear red and inflamed, and feel rather sore. The skin surface may blister and it is important therefore to avoid rubbing the area for a few days. The skin usually settles however within a week.
How Effective is Treatment?
The response to the laser will depend upon the quality and colour of the tattoo. Professional tattoos will require more treatments than home-made Indian ink tattoos. Certain colours, especially green, can be particularly difficult to remove, although they usually will eventually go after enough repeat treatments. It is not possible to predict how many treatments will be necessary to result in the disappearance of a particular tattoo, but one should expect at least six for any professional tattoo, and over ten, if any green is present.
Are There Any Risks?
As with any laser treatment there is a risk of pigment change, that can be permanent, although scarring is extremely rare. It is important, after any skin laser treatment, to use high-factor sunblock when exposed to ultra-violet (sun) light to minimise the risk of (increased) pigment change. Generally speaking, however, one of the main benefits of tattoo removal by laser is that the tattooed skin usually appears normal after the tattoo has eventually disappeared.
The cost of treatment depends upon the size of the tattoo and therefore the time taken for treatment. Prices start from £130 per treatment for a small tattoo.