Currently, there are two acceptable methods of tattoo removal: Laser and mechanical.
Dr. Bloch offers laser tattoo removal at his Highland Park, IL office.
Laser tattoo removal works by using high energy, short pulses of intense light to cause pigment particles to explode in the skin and fracture into small enough pieces that the body's own "garbage trucks," the macrophages, can engulf the fragments and drag them out of the skin into the lymphatic system. So it doesn't really remove the tattoo color from your body. It just moves the little pieces to where they can't be seen.
The best laser systems have three different frequencies to target the widest range of colors. But none of them can be used to remove white, because the fracturing process turns the white pigment (or any pastel color containing white) to a dark grey or black, and leaves the fragments too large to be removed by the macrophages.
Also, laser tattoo removal is a slow process, and it's not unusual to need 4-12 treatments to achieve the best results. The more treatments, the more expensive the process.
Although laser tattoo removal has long been thought to be safe, recent research has questioned the health ramifications of having minute particles of unknown materials in your lymph nodes over the long term. In particular, it raises concern about extremely tiny particles, called nano particles, which could potentially increase the risk of cancer, and which may be created by the explosive breaking up of the pigment. The larger the area to be removed, the greater the potential concern.
The Tattoo Vanish method is my preferred method of mechanical removal. There are other products on the market used for this purpose which contain acids that can burn and scar the skin. But Tattoo Vanish is an all natural, saline based, aloe vera and citrus enhanced gel that is both safe and effective.
In this method, the skin is reopened in a controlled manner by a specially trained technician. All technicians must be trained and certified in the use of Tattoo Vanish, and only those listed on the Tattoo Vanish website (www.tattoovanishmethod.com) meet those qualifications. As of this writing, I am the only certified technician working in the New York City area, and one of only two techs in the Chicago area.
After the skin is appropriately prepared, the product is applied to the opened skin and a scab is allowed to form. When it does, a certain amount of the tattoo color bonds to the scab. The scab must be kept dry and intact until it falls off naturally. When it does, it will take color with it.
Tattoo Vanish has several other advantages over laser.
Unlike laser, Tattoo Vanish works on all colors, including white. There also is no risk of colors shifting or changing as they are being removed.
Many laser centers won't work on permanent makeup because they fear turning lighter colors dark, or risk injury to the eyes from the laser light. Tattoo Vanish can be used safely to lighten or remove all permanent makeup procedures.
Tattoo Vanish generally works in fewer treatments than are required with laser, so it costs the client less to see good results.
Treatments with Tattoo Vanish can also remove the residue left from laser treatments when colors no longer respond.
But the most important reason to use this method is that the pigment particles are actually removed from your body, and not just moved into the lymph nodes.
The one caveat of mechanical removal is that it is more invasive, and there is more collagen remodeling from the treatment than with laser. That raises the risk of scarring in certain individuals. To minimize that risk, I combine the Tattoo Vanish method with post care using Low Level Red Light Therapy. This energizes the skin, allowing it to heal faster and more normally. Even so, I will not use this method on clients who have a history of keloid scar formation, or who scar from minor cuts and scratches.
Candidates for all tattoo removal need to be appropriate. They must not be uncontrolled bleeders, have dermatological disorders in the area to be treated such as eczema or psoriasis, or be individuals who bruise easily or heal badly. Darker skinned clients are more likely to hyperpigment or hypopigment in the treated areas, which may or may not be termporary. Other inappropriate candidates include those with heart conditions, metal implants, Hepatitis C, immune compromised individuals with HIV, AIDS or temporarily reduced immune systems from chemotherapy, clients with rosacea in or near the area of the tattoo,and diabetics who need insulin (type 2 diabetics whose disease is controlled by diet are generally ok).
Tattoo removal laser should not remove the adjacent hair, but it may bleach out the color out of the hair.
Complete removal is not always achievable with either method. But in many cases, simply lightening the old tattoo, so that new work can be put over it, is all that the client requires. The deeper, heavier, and older the application, the more treatments will be needed, and complete removal is not always possible. Tattoo removal with either method is not a magic wand However, if what you seek is improvement rather than perfection, if you are patient, if you budget appropriately, and if you are committed to the process, you will be pleased with the results.
Please contact me to make a consultation appointment.