Even if France does not really have a tattoo culture like some northern countries, the phenomenon is growing. With their direct corollary: tattoo removal, also on the increase, according to figures given during the Dermatological Days in Paris in December 2015. Dr. Thierry Fusade, the dermatologist, confirms this:
“I am being asked more and more for tattoo removal, not necessarily so as not to have any tattoos at all. Sometimes the person just wants to change it because the tattoo no longer matches their state of mind. “
Different lasers depending on the color of the tattoo
To remove a tattoo, the dermatologist or cosmetic doctor will use a laser. “This is a photomechanical impact. The idea is to fragment the drops of ink in the skin until they reach the critical size of 5 or 10 microns: they are then absorbed by the body. The aim is to create ink dust, ”explains dermatologist Dr. Jean-Michel Mazer.
The choice of laser – which is characterized among other things by its wavelength – is made according to the color of the tattoo:
- To reach the Red color in the skin, a KTP laser is needed. Orange or brown are also treated with the Yag laser.
- Blue or green: often an Alexandrite laser.
- Of black : Alexandrite or Yag laser.
Remove tattoo with Q Switch laser or picosecond laser?
Technology side, the Q Switch – for which we can have KTP, of the’Alexandrite or Yag – is commonly used. But there is a debate among experts on the comparative advantages of the technologies of the Q Switch or the laser known as “picosecond”, the most recent, which is also the fastest … and the most expensive.
- On the one hand, the Q Switch is cheaper but the treatment lasts longer because you can only do sessions every two months, while the scabs induced by the laser are healed.
- On the other hand, the picosecond allows for closer sessions – every month – which matters when, in a total duration of treatment, we go from two years to one year; but it is more expensive. Dr. Mazer, the supporter of the picosecond, explains: “20 to 30% of patients stop treatment before the end, because of the duration of the latter. I think the picosecond time saving is a big advantage. “
What prices for laser tattoo removal?
In all cases the treatment remains long, and we must anticipate its tattoo removal.
“I often meet the classic case of the young woman who comes to remove a tattoo because she is going to get married in three months. I then explained to him that it is impossible to remove a tattoo so quickly, that it is better to change the shape of the dress, ”says Dr. Fusade.
- With the Q Switch, count from 5 to 15 sessions spaced two months apart. The vast majority of tattoos require less than 10 sessions. From 150 to 300 € per session.
- With a picosecond laser, count a little fewer sessions for the same tattoo (for example 12 rather than 15 in Q Switch), spaced one month apart. From 300 to 400 € per session.
How many sessions does it take to remove a tattoo?
All the consultants insist on one point:
“It is complicated to predict exactly the number of sessions required to start a tattoo, especially when the tattoo is polychrome, with many different colors,” says Dr. Fusade.
For example, a green tattoo results from pigment compositions which, although giving the same shade, can be very different. The dermatologist can hardly tell the difference upstream, and the colors will not leave at the same speed depending on their basic molecules.
Blue and green tattoos harder to get rid of
Even though each tattoo is unique, it is however recognized that red tattoos are the easiest to remove, as well as black ones. The most difficult to remove are the blues and greens.
“The picosecond laser is especially interesting in Alexandrite for treating black, but also blue and green, which are the most difficult colors to get rid of,” explains Dr. Mazer.
Namely: the picosecond is also indicated to treat tattoo “remnants” – dermatologists sometimes speak of a “phantom” effect – these particles which make like a light veil resistant to Q Switch.
“Finally, we must take into account skin pigmentation. On dark skin, the Q Switch laser in the KTP version will be too absorbed by melanin and risk causing depigmentation. It is, therefore, necessary to favor the Alexandrite or Nd Yag lasers. But red tattoos only respond to KTP … It is therefore very difficult to remove a red tattoo from very pigmented skin, ”adds Jean-Michel Mazer.
Hiding a tattoo with another tattoo, a good idea?
“The covering tattoo must be two to three times larger than the first tattoo if we want to have an aesthetic result,” explains Loïc, a professional tattoo artist.
The design of the second tattoo will necessarily be designed according to the first. We can only turn up the colors, impossible to make a light tattoo on a dark tattoo. Sometimes a laser session can be useful for adjusting, blurring.
What to know before getting a tattoo
Dr Fusade’s advice:
- do not get tattoos on socially exposed areas: not on the forearms, ankles, or neck;
- for a woman, no tattoo on the neckline because the area ages a lot;
- avoid a tattoo too loaded with pigments, or colors in all directions, and with blues and greens, prefer red, shadows, fine lines, volutes, easier to remove, softer.