By: Dr. Craig Crippen

In my last blog, I discussed the long lasting effects of the ever-popular tattoo. Naturally, a tattoo is meant to be a permanent mark on your skin, so clearly it “lasts long”. But I’m talking more specifically about the emotional attachments that people have towards the artwork they decide to ink themselves with. In many cases – nearly half according to some doctors – people regret their decisions to get “tatted up”.

My friend Sara, who removed her ex-boyfriend Mark’s name from her body, knows what I’m talking about. If more people were like my mom – a staunch member of the “opposition to tattoos” – there would be a lot less regret in the world. That being said, there were would also be no need for tattoo removal surgery. But thank God that it exist! At the end of my last blog, I mentioned that of the many types of treatments to remove tattoos, there is one in particular that is very safe and effective.

Q-Switch Laser is a technique that uses pulses of light energy to remove tattoo ink as well as other natural pigmentations including birthmarks and brown spots. The way in which the laser works is quite fascinating. The rapid pulses of light heat up the ink or pigmentation in the skin to break it down. These slightly damaged skin cells are then naturally replaced by the body with new un-pigmented skin.

I know what you may be thinking. It’s the same thing that most people tell me when they hear the word “laser”. They fear the worst. But think about this. If you’re willing to allow a needle to puncture your skin to leave a permanent mark, how bad can a laser be that will remove that mark? The truth is, there really is no comparison. While every person I know who has a tattoo admits to feeling some pain during the tattooing process, the same cannot be said about Q-Switch Laser.

The sensations brought on by the treatment have often been referred to as a “slight discomfort”. Naturally, some can be expected. Due to this, an anesthetic cream is applied to the skin two hours before the treatment is performed. This is recommended, but not necessarily essential. The Q-Switch Laser treatment, however, is a far shorter experience. Generally, an appointment lasts no more than five to ten minutes. That’s it!

Interestingly – but not surprisingly – there are some similarities between getting a tattoo and removing one. Following the Q-Switch Laser treatment, some patients may experience minor skin irritations such as scabbing or blistering. It should be known, as well, that the complete removal of a tattoo is a gradual process. Therefore, approximately four to eight treatments are recommended to get the ultimate result of a tattoo gone missing.

As always, it is extremely important that you contact a licensed physician with questions about laser tattoo removal and other skin care procedures before making a decision about getting one for yourself. One thing is for sure. If you regret getting a tattoo, you won’t regret going through the process of removing one. But don’t worry Mom – I won’t be going under the needle – or laser – anytime soon!