Not everyone who gets a tattoo is happy about it later. Studies show that about 28% of young people end up regretting their tattoos. Often these may be the name of their significant other that didn’t work out, or something else that was added on a whim. Former gang members and people with prison tattoos also find their tattoo choices regrettable. For them, this usually leads to laser tattoo removals.
The standard right now is using the Q-switched laser. The laser works by breaking up the ink particles over several sessions. The removal process is lengthy, uncomfortable, and expensive. Older tattoos—over 36 months old, as the ink can seep deeper into the skin—and those on the leg area are the hardest to remove. Also smokers tend to have a harder time with the removal process, which may be due to the effects of smoking on the inflammatory and immune systems. Colored inks and larger tattoos also take longer to remove. Spreading out sessions every 8 weeks seems to help in the removal process.
A new study is being conducted using pico lasers for tattoo removal. This laser uses more concentrated energy to shake up and shatter the ink particles quicker and more efficiently. In a study of 12 patients, they were able to get the same results in half the time as the Q-switch laser. Though not available to the public, this new laser will possibly speed up the process for those wishing to remove their ink. There are still the same side effects such as skin irritation and possible blistering, and the cost will probably be more expensive.