Lasers have been specifically designed for pigment removal in such a way that, in most cases, the top layer of skin (epidermis) is not injured as the pigmented material under the skin surface is destroyed. This is possible because the characteristics of the laser are specific for the superheating of melanin granules and tattoo dye pigment particles. The Trivantage laser can be used for the removal of age spots, pigment spots and tattoos. The wavelengths of light that it emits (755 nanometers, 532 nanometers and 1064 nanometers), correspond to the absorption spectrum of melanin pigment and certain tattoo pigments. The laser light is delivered very quickly so there is almost no chance for destruction or scarring of the surrounding skin.
Photos courtesy of Eric Bernstein, MD
After a tattoo removal treatmtent session, the skin can develop a modest crusting. Occasionally the skin will have a few bleeding spots. The crusting should peel off in 14 days or less on the face, and over 14-21 days on the hands and body. Most patients require only minimal post-treatment wound care.
Brown colored age spots (lentigos) frequently will disappear in one or two treatments. Most tattoo removals require six or more treatments, and some tattoos may require 12-20 treatments for complete success. A four to eight week period between treatments is usually recommended.
When a tattoo is being treated, pigment is absorbed slowly over the weeks following treatment. At each follow-up treatment, one should see a slight reduction in the color and outline of the tattoo. Many treatments may be needed to get a satisfactory final result. Tattoos may become very much reduced in pigment, but not all tattoos can be cleared 100%.
Photos courtesy of Tina Alster, MD
Laser treatment is tolerated well and most patients do not require anesthesia. When no anesthesia is used, there is a slight stinging or burning experienced during the procedure. Some patients, particularly children, will find it more comfortable to apply a topical anesthetic to the skin one to two hours before the office treatment. Elamax cream is available over the counter for this purpose, and EMLA Cream is available by prescription.
The risk of scarring is quite small, and we believe that it is less than 1%. The most common side effect is a discoloration of the skin, which is a result of laser irritation of pigment cells around the treated area. This discoloration may be lighter or darker than your normal skin.. Color changes usually return to normal within three to six months after laser treatment. Discoloration is not common. Recent tanning or tropical sun exposure can increase the risk of discoloration, The top of the hands and the lower legs are more subject to discoloration than other areas. Response to treatment will be improved by using a #30 or higher sun block (containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) over the treated area once discoloration from the laser has disappeared.
Photos courtesy of Cyrus Chess, MD