Laser tattoo removal is the process of removing embedded ink from the layers of skin using a laser. Lasers work by producing short pulses of intense light that selectively target the tattoo pigment while minimizing damage to the surrounding skin. The laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to fragment into smaller particles that are then easily removed by the body’s immune system. Lasers offer a non-invasive and effective treatment for unwanted tattoos. Tattoo fading is for individuals who want to lighten their existing tattoo in order to facilitate a cover up. The procedure is the same as laser tattoo removal, but requires less sessions.
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The amount of time required for the removal of a tattoo and the success of the removal varies with each individual and their immune system function. Factors influencing this include: skin type, location, color, amount of ink, scarring or tissue change, layers of ink, immune system function and circulation. Factors under the individuals control are more time between treatments, nutrition, stress, sleep, exercise and fluid levels. In the past health care providers would simply guess on the number of treatments a patient needed which was rather frustrating to patients. A predictive scale, the "Kirby-Desai Scale", was developed by Dr. Will Kirby and Dr. Alpesh Desai, dermatologists with specialization in tattoo removal techniques, to assess the potential success and number of treatments necessary for laser tattoo removal, provided the medical practitioner is using a Q-switched Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) laser incorporating selective photothermolysis with six weeks between treatments.