How Do Lasers Remove Tattoos?

The most well-known and highly reccomended tattoo removal process is laser tattoo removal. But, how do lasers remove tattoos from your skin, exactly? Tattoo removal lasers work by injecting the skin with an intense band of light, focusing on a specific color band that effectively breaks up the pigment in the skin into tiny particles that can be processed and removed by the immune system. Which is why your tattoos will show the most fading over the weeks following a tattoo removal session.

The reason this is necessary can be found by looking deeper. Most tattoo inks are comprised of heavy metals and other particles that stick under the skin. These metals are what provide pigmentation for the tattoo, but they also provoke a deeper reaction from the body. Once this ink is deposited under your skin your immune system gets to work, viewing these ink particles as foreign objects and sending white blood cells to the rescue. These blood cells then engulf and take whatever tiny particles they can find to the liver, for processing. Most tattoo ink particles are much larger than the blood cells, which prevents them from removing the ink entirely and allows the pigmentation to remain under the skin. However, it’s this very feature that makes laser treatment necessary for tattoo removal.

So, how do lasers remove tattoos? Tattoo removal lasers, like the Picosecond and Cutera lasers used in our Portland tattoo removal shop, work to break up these larger particles into smaller ones that can be effectively processed by the immune system and cleared away. The frequency of light that the laser emits is very important. These lasers are very hot, and operate at speeds of a trillionth of a second, which is necessary for the process of breaking up the pigment particles, called photothermolysis. This process works by superheating the large pigment particles, causing them to expand due to thermal expansion, while operating fast enough to leave the other half of the ink particle cold. This difference in temperature causes the particle to literally rip apart, creating smaller pieces that the immune system can then clear away via the liver.

This process is why laser tattoo removal is the most effective method of tattoo removal, and why we recommend this method over any other methods of tattoo removal.