Tattoo removal has never been more efficient and effective than it is today. With the advent of new technologies that yield better results with a wider range of pigment detection and treatment, the process is safer and more comfortable than ever before. PiQo4 is one of these new technologies – a power laser targeting all ink colors with fewer treatments. Our experienced doctors at The Aesthetic Clinique in Santa Rosa Beach, FL are excited to offer this new treatment for unwanted tattoos.
How Soon Does the PiQo4 Work?
Typically, tattoo removal can require several sessions for the tattoos to be completely removed. However, PiQo4 guarantees shorter sessions and faster treatments. In fact, this treatment has resulted in an over 50% reduction in sessions versus other lasers. Of course, several factors can influence how long it will take, including your age and the size and color of your tattoo.
Nonetheless, changes are immediate with the PiQo4 treatment, and repeat treatments increasingly lighten the ink over time. The number of treatments will vary depending on where the tattoo is located on the body, how much ink was used, and how deeply it was applied.
You will also need to wait several weeks between sessions to give your body a chance to flush out the particles that are broken up by the laser.
Laser Tattoo Removal: What You Need to Know
Before we can discuss tattoo removal, it helps to understand the science behind how tattoos adhere to the skin. This involves understanding the components that make up tattoo ink, how it is applied, and your immune system’s role in the process.
What’s in Tattoo Ink?
Tattoo ink is a chemical solution made up of two parts: a carrier fluid and a pigment. The carrier fluid carries the pigment (colorant) where it is intended to go. The carrier is usually made from alcohol or distilled water, with additives such as glycerin or witch hazel. The colorant will either be a pigment made from metals or a dye. The benefit of pigments over dyes, however, is that pigments do not need to react with the chemistry of the skin; since they are composed of metals, they are stable enough on their own to keep their color without a chemical reaction.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Tattoos are removed when the laser breaks up tattoo particles that are then eliminated through the skin. The process is repeated until there are no visible particles remaining. For decades past, the only alternatives to contemporary laser removal were carbon dioxide lasers and excision scarring. These often left significant scarring and were much more invasive.
The PiQo4 treatment is the highest-powered tattoo laser currently available. Its shorter-pulse durations increase accuracy and allow better dispersion of embedded ink particles. It offers up to 15 spot sizes, which means that it can maintain penetration depth into the dermis. That being said, it’s important to understand the layers of skin and the biology of tattoo adherence and removal.
How Tattoos Adhere to the Skin
As the ink is placed, the needles penetrate deep into the layers of skin. This creates a wound in the outermost layer of skin, which eventually begins to heal and scab over. As it heals, the scabbing process traps the ink underneath. White blood cells respond to this unrecognized foreign material by rushing to the area, which further holds the ink in place.
The Skin’s Layers
While your skin is a three-layered structure, only two of these layers are actually involved in tattoo placement. The outermost layer is called the epidermis. This is the layer that protects your body from harsh external conditions such as weather, ultraviolet light, viruses, and bacteria. This layer takes the most damage over time since it is your body’s first line of defense.
The second layer that is important in tattoo placement is the dermis. Just beneath the epidermis, it is the layer that contains sebaceous glands, which are necessary for producing the oils that give your skin its flexibility and elasticity. Because of this, it acts as a shock absorber of sorts, cushioning your body from stressful environments.
The Immune Response
Your body’s immune system plays an important role in the permanency of your tattoo. Since your body mounts an attack anytime it recognizes a molecule as foreign, white blood cells flood the area where the tattoo ink has penetrated. These white blood cells, or macrophages, have the job of “eating” the foreign pigment particles.
However, tattoo ink particles are typically too large for macrophages to ingest. Despite this, they continue to gather at the site, still attempting to remove the ink particles. When they die, other macrophages show up to take their place, which creates a constant cycle of white blood cell activity in the tattoo area. This activity is actually what keeps the ink in place.
Factors That Influence Treatment
Laser removal takes place in layers – first the top layers of color, and then the deeper layers. Remember that removing the broken ink particles requires white blood cells to eliminate them through the skin. This means that your body will need to heal between sessions, which requires time and consistency. It also means that there are other factors that influence the duration and effectiveness of treatment.
Age and Health
It stands to reason that the younger you are, the more resilient your skin is. Mature skin takes longer to recover, and since it is less supple and elastic than younger skin, it may require special care between treatments. In addition, it is best to undergo treatment when your immunity is at its strongest – the older we are the more immunocompromised we are likely to be. That being said, it is always a good idea to introduce healthy habits that support your immune system before undergoing any kind of medical treatment.
The greater contrast there is between tattoo color and skin color, the easier it is to remove the pigment. While most lasers are more accommodating to lighter skin than darker skin, the PiQo4 laser is calibrated to wavelengths that can treat darker skin types and most colored tattoos. Nonetheless, sometimes extra caution is needed to avoid any skin coloration, which may mean longer treatments are required.
Tattoo Type and Color
You may be surprised to hear that color can affect the number of sessions your removal will require. The reason for this is because black does not require specific laser requirements – since it absorbs all wavelengths of light, it is easier to break up. On the other hand, colors on different spectrums require lasers calibrated at specific wavelengths.
Since black is the easiest color to remove, an all-black tattoo will be removed most quickly. Removed even more quickly are all-black tattoos that are smaller, older, less dense, and more faded. Conversely, the larger and more colorful the tattoo, the longer it will take to remove.
As with most things, making healthy choices increases your resilience and healing potential for successful tattoo removal. Eating balanced meals, hydrating adequately, and minimizing stress will give your body its best chance at recovery. Some unhealthy habits, such as smoking, can actually reduce healing time and, as a consequence, may mean longer time between sessions.
Pre-Existing Health Conditions
Pre-existing skin conditions can exacerbate the side effects of laser removal treatment. Conditions such as herpes, rosacea can complicate the healing process, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot undergo treatment. Our seasoned doctors have solutions for nearly every unique situation. They will offer you specialized advice and care for any conditions or concerns you may have.
The one exception to this may be pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuations can cause changes to the skin that might increase the risk of side effects. Therefore, you may be asked to wait to begin your sessions if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.
The Removal Process: What to Expect
Who Is a Good Candidate?
As with most medical treatments, there are some factors that make tattoo removal easier for some people than others. Age, lifestyle, and general health play a large role in this process. However, our experienced dermatologists are experts at finding solutions for individual concerns so that nearly everyone who desires this treatment can receive it.
Before Your Session
In the consultation, our doctors will examine your skin in-person and get a thorough medical history, including any other skin treatments you might be receiving and any current medications you are taking. If you are taking blood-thinning medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), our doctors may ask you to avoid these before and during your sessions as this will reduce your chances of experiencing bruising and inflammation.
In addition, it is best to avoid any activities that may increase skin sensitivity or cause irritation, such as bleaching, tanning, waxing, or any other skin treatments. Our medical staff will do everything we can to make your comfort our top priority. This is the time to express any concerns or ask questions so that we can put your mind at ease. We pride ourselves in offering comprehensive and compassionate care.
Our doctors will first test your skin’s response to the PiQo4 laser to be sure that the correct calibrations are being used. Most patients report minimal discomfort, especially with the use of topical anesthetic creams. The treatment process should only take a few moments in the office and requires little to no downtime.
Since this is an outpatient service, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities immediately. A larger tattoo may take a bit longer to remove, but the whole process should take less than an hour.
It is important to stick to the individualized after-care plan our doctors develop for you. In addition, it is always a good idea to continue following the advice offered in the pre-treatment stage. Avoiding alcohol, intense heat or exercise, and NSAID medications will give your body its best chance to heal. Wearing loose-fitting clothes will help to avoid any chafing or irritation around the treatment area.
Some swelling and redness in the first couple of days after treatment is normal. Applying an ice pack to the area several times a day can help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. Our medical staff may also advise you to apply an antibiotic cream and keep the area covered with a bandage. Wearing sunscreen and avoiding ultraviolet light as much as possible is still important during the healing stage.
Learn More and Get Started
The PiQo4 laser makes it easier than ever to have a tattoo removed. With its wider range of pigment detection, this new technology is more effective and more accurate than its rivals. Requiring fewer treatments and targeting all ink colors, this treatment is the best option for nearly everyone seeking tattoo removal. Call our talented team at The Aesthetic Clinique in Santa Rosa Beach, FL to schedule your consultation today.