Tattoo removal is a minimally invasive method of utilizing laser energy to permanently dissolve ink pigment in the skin. As the laser pulses hit these large pigments, the energy breaks them apart into smaller molecules, allowing the skin to remove the ink and metabolize them safely. One of the most effective lasers for this is the Q-switched neodymium-yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG), the gold standard for tattoo removal. (1) The Nd:YAG technology was recently updated with the development of the Lumenis Stellar M22 laser. As one of the latest and most advanced devices for tattoo removal the Stellar M22 can restore the clear, radiant skin you had before your tattoo with minimal downtime and side effects.
If you don’t feel that you identify with your tattoos anymore, or simply don’t like their appearance, tattoo removal may be the solution you’re looking for. Not only can it target a wide range of shades and colors, but due to its 1064 nm wavelengths, it is safe for all skin types.
Book your tattoo removal consultation with Dr. Robert Bonillas at Scottsdale Plastics. As a member of several plastic surgery organizations, Dr. Bonillas makes the extra effort to stay up-to-date with the latest cosmetic practices, ensuring that each of his patients gets the premium quality care they deserve. To get in contact with him, call his office in Scottsdale, AZ at (480) 245-6380 or fill out our online form to request an appointment today.
About Tattoo Pigment
For tattoo ink to embed itself into the skin, the tattoo needle must penetrate about 1.5 to 2 mm into the dermis, the second layer of the skin. The body recognizes tattoo ink as a foreign object, so it sends white blood cells that work to attempt to remove the pigment. Normally, these cells can fight off bacteria and viruses, but they are unable to rid the skin of the ink. White blood cells called macrophages encapsulate the ink in an effort to break it down, but instead, it stays suspended in the dermis, providing a permanent tattoo. As time passes, the ink can travel deeper into the dermis, often creating a more blurred appearance with age. For this reason, many people seek out tattoo removal since their art has lost its original crispness and vibrancy. (2)
While tattoos can be quite intricate, beautiful, and expressive, there is a side to them that many people aren’t knowledgeable about. Though most of the ink stays within the dermis, some moves to the lymph nodes, vital tissue structures that regulate the immune system and its defense against bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research concerning the effects of tattoo ink on the lymph nodes and the immune system as a whole. Studies on various samples of tattoo ink have found that it contains chemical byproducts of ammonia, heavy metals, and other damaging substances that have proven toxicity. (3) Many tattoo artists remain unaware of the chemicals present in their ink, and U.S. manufacturers are not even required to disclose its contents. With the Stellar M22, you not only can get the cosmetic benefits of clearer, beautified skin, but you can effectively remove harmful substances that lie dormant in your body.
Benefits of the Stellar M22
The Stellar M22 represents a new age in laser technology that has attracted patients seeking many kinds of skin rejuvenation, not just tattoo removal. Both its versatile capabilities and its less invasive nature offer patients a wide variety of benefits:
- The device emits laser at 1064 nm wavelengths, a proven safe and effective laser energy for people with darker skin tones. (4)
- It comes equipped with 7 spot sizes, allowing for a more precise, customizable treatment.
- The laser beam is homogenized, a feature that decreases the risk of scarring and distributes heat in a more controlled manner. Under a microscopic view, the Stellar M22’s beam has a “top hat” appearance rather than a more pointed appearance.
- Dr. Bonillas will apply topical or local anesthesia to ensure that you are comfortable during the laser session.
- If you’re interested in achieving other cosmetic results with the Stellar M22, the system not only has the Nd:YAG laser. It has 4 other technologies that can treat vascular lesions and veins, scars, pigmentation issues, and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles and uneven tone and texture.
Candidates for Tattoo Removal
If you want to get rid of the tattoo/s that you once loved, but now regret, there is no shame in considering removal with the advanced Stellar M22 system. As long as you don’t have an active skin infection in the treatment area, you can likely undergo laser tattoo removal sessions. If you have an immune or blood-clotting disorder, you may want to avoid lasers altogether. You must also be willing to keep your tattoo protected from the sun for the duration of your treatment until you get the results you’re looking for.
During your consultation, we will evaluate the size, location, and pigments in the tattoo you would like to remove. We will speak with you about what you should do to prepare for your laser session, how the procedure will go, and the aftercare instructions you should follow to maximize your results and prevent scarring. HWe can give you a rough estimate of how many sessions you will require, depending on the age and colors of the tattoo/s.
To schedule an appointment with us, call Scottsdale Plastics at (480) 245-6380 or inquire using our contact form. A member of his practice will assist you with booking at your earliest convenience and help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Laser Tattoo Removal Procedure Steps
First, Dr. Bonillas will thoroughly cleanse your tattoo/s to prevent the possibility of infection. Next, he will administer anesthesia; for smaller tattoos, you may only require topical numbing cream, whereas larger tattoos could require local anesthesia. For topical anesthesia, you will have to wait at least 30 minutes for the desensitization to fully kick in.
Next, Dr. Bonillas will give you a pair of glasses that will protect your eyes from the intense light pulses. He will place the Stellar M22 window and administer a pulse of light before moving to a directly adjacent are. He will make multiple passes around the tattoo, ensuring that he covers every inch.
The procedure could be as short as 15 minutes or last up to 1 hour– it depends on the size of your tattoo/s. As the pulses hit the pigment molecules, they break apart, allowing the bloodstream to carry away the ink and metabolize it as waste. You may feel snapping sensations on your skin, but overall, it will be fairly tolerable since you will be properly anesthetized. If you find that topical cream doesn’t work for you, Dr. Bonillas can easily apply local anesthesia to mitigate any discomfort. Once the session is complete, he will apply an antibiotic ointment and a post-procedure bandage to protect this sensitive area.
Recovery and Results
After your session, you will notice some fading in your tattoo/s, but you will require multiple sessions to completely erase it. You may experience minor and temporary hypopigmentation, or lightening of the skin around your tattoo. Within the next couple of days, you may notice some redness and minor swelling. Pinpoint bleeding and tingling sensations are also normal reactions. Dr. Bonillas will give you further instructions on when to apply your ointment to keep it moisturized and protected. Until your final laser session, you should avoid sun exposure. As soon as your skin is healed enough, apply daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more if it’s not covered by clothing. You will be able to undergo the next session within a few weeks after your skin has healed enough.
How Many Laser Tattoo Removal Sessions Will I Need?
You will likely require at least 4 to 6 sessions– spaced at least 2 months apart– to completely remove a tattoo. The number of sessions you require will depend on the colors within your tattoo. The Stellar M22 can clear up black and blue pigment quicker than slightly more stubborn colors, such as green.
Cost of Laser Tattoo Removal in Scottsdale
The cost of your laser tattoo removal will vary depending on how many sessions you will require and the extent of the procedure. If tattoo removal piques your interest, but you have financial concerns, Scottsdale Plastics offers payment plans with CareCredit, PatientFi, and layaway specials.
- Hirtler P, Serup J. A Practical Approach to Cosmetic Tattoo Removal with the Nd:YAG Laser. Current Problems in Dermatology. 2022;56:259-267. doi:https://doi.org/10.1159/000521483
- Grant CA, Twigg PC, Baker R, Tobin DJ. Tattoo ink nanoparticles in skin tissue and fibroblasts. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. 2015;6:1183-1191. doi:https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.6.120
- Negi S, Bala L, Shukla S, Chopra D. Tattoo inks are toxicological risks to human health: A systematic review of their ingredients, fate inside skin, toxicity due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, primary aromatic amines, metals, and overview of regulatory frameworks. Toxicology and Industrial Health. 2022;38(7):417-434. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/07482337221100870
- Cole P, Hatef D, Kaufman Y, Pozner J. Laser Therapy in Ethnic Populations. Seminars in Plastic Surgery. 2009;23(03):173-177. doi:https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0029-1224796