If you’ve got regrets about getting inked, we can help. At our Surrey laser clinic (outside Vancouver), we use the best technology available to get rid of unwanted tattoos – even new ones, faded ones, or multi-coloured ones.
Our Vancouver tattoo removal service also comes with over 16 years of experience, and the guide of a medical doctor. We’ve used several laser techniques over that time period. Our specialty in removing tattoos helps prevent complications on your skin (such as scarring or discolouration). It also means we can do a more thorough job, especially with tattoo colours that are hard to treat. Some of our patients have even seen near-perfect results in as little as 5 – 6 treatments!*
If you’re looking to remove an unwanted tattoo, we encourage you to book an in-person consultation with us. We’ll be able to examine your case, and give you our best suggestion on the next steps to getting rid of that darned tattoo, once and for all!
Even if you have consulted with tattoo removal services in the past, or had a failed attempt at tattoo removal, we may still be able to help. Our technological equipment is far more advanced than most. Our clinic has several resources to deal with various types of tattoos and skin conditions.
Do you use the Q-switch, or PicoSure™ laser for tattoo removal?
At our clinic, we have been working on perfecting the ‘un-art’ of removing ink pigments in human skin for a long time. And, we’ve got the investment dollars to ensure we are purchasing the most up-to-date technological equipment for the job.
While many, many articles on the web will talk about the Q-switch laser as the so-called, “gold standard” of tattoo removal, this is no longer the case. Prior to 2012, it was. And at that time, we had two Q-switch lasers in our office. People came to us from all over the Lower Mainland for this service.
However, technology does progress! Today, the industry is getting incredible, “mind boggling” results with picosecond lasers. They work far more rapidly than Q-switch lasers (which used nanoseconds), and on various tattoo colours, too. They are also safer to use, and result in fewer complications, as a result.
Having two lasers for removing tattoos means we can not only get you in sooner for treatment, but we can treat more ink colours, too.
Q-switch vs PicoSure™ and enlighten® lasers
Below is a simple rundown to explain the difference between the older Q-switched lasers (whether Nd:YAG, Ruby or Alexandrite) and the newer picosecond-based lasers:
The Q-switched lasers emit energy within nanosecond increments (that is, 1 billionth of a second). This energy creates heat, which is then used to destroy ink particles that have been placed in the dermal layer of the skin. But on the flip side, the high heat is also what can damage skin.
With PicoSure™ and enlighten® lasers, the energy emission happens within a picosecond. That is 1000x shorter than a nanosecond (it comes to a a trillionth of a second). This improved laser speed drastically reduces the potential skin damage that each pulse can cause – even on darker skin tones.
The intensity of the energy in such a fast, picosecond motion also breaks ink particles down into smaller pieces than with nanosecond technology. The smallness is what helps your immune system get rid of the ink. Your body can thus do its job faster than if ink particles were broken into small pieces slowly, over time. That had been the case with Q-switch lasers.
Why are tattoos so hard to remove if skin is supposed to shed?
Tattoos are an ancient art form. They are meant to last forever (albeit, humans have caught up with nature on this one!). The way they do this is by embedding ink deep within your skin – far deeper than the epidermis, which is what sheds. Tattoo ink is purposefully placed, using a small needle, into the dermis layer of the skin. Modern tattoos are injected at 50 – 3000 times per minute (that’s a lot of pigment for high density dispersion!).
The dermis is where your nerves, glands, blood vessels and hair follicles are. But guess what? It’s also where your immune system does its job (with lymph nodes). When you are punching several holes into your skin, your body’s natural response is to start healing it. It not only wants to ‘close up’ those holes, it also wants to get rid of this foreign invader – the dye particles. That’s where tattoos get their ‘trick’ from. In a sense, they ‘fool’ your immune system.
Part of the healing process after dye is punched into your body, is the delivery of macrophages (you know, white blood cells). Macrophages are designed to ‘eat up,’ break down, then release the ‘bad stuff.’ The ‘bad stuff’ gets delivered to the lymphatic system, which expels it. Long story short, foreign invaders, like ink particles, are supposed to be excreted out of your body (through the toilet business, yes).
But when macrophages reach the area where pigment has been injected and ‘sucked in’ to your skin, some of them swallow up ink particles that are far too big for their liking. They can’t dispel the ink granules like usual. And, their job is to stay put in where an injury was. So guess what? The ink stays too.
Over time, your body’s macrophages are replaced. This sends some ink particles away for disposal, but not all. That’s why tattoos fade as the years go by.
Other ink gets absorbed by fibroblasts in your dermis, and stays there too.
A excellent explainer video on this subject is one made by TED Ed:
Why do some tattoos fade more than others? Are all tattoos eligible for tattoo removal?
Technically, all tattoos fade over time. This is because of the way macrophages die out, and are replaced by your immune system, as described above. So, the older your tattoo, the quicker it can be removed. But, “quick” is relative in this sense. We’ll explain:
Why do some tattoos fade more than others? That can have to do with the quality of the tattoo, and sometimes, your lifestyle too.
You see, amateur tattoo artists using low-quality ink will not be able to make a tattoo as ‘permanent’ as it’s intended to be. The ink can get distributed at different degrees of depth in the skin, rather than being uniformly placed. And, remember, it’s the ink that gets to the dermis layer that stays put. The more shallowly the ink resides in the skin, the more likely it will fade away as your skin sheds, or as laser beams reach it.
There is an exception to this rule, however. If we go by the above logic alone, we’d assume that parts of our body with thinner skin would make tattoo removal or fading easier. For example, your hands and feet. But this is not the case, since blood flow to these areas is limited. That affects your immune system’s ability to do its job after each treatment. It can’t deliver macrophages as effectively to those extremities, as it can on other body parts.
The other thing is that modern, high quality tattoo inks are designed to be as pure as possible. That is, they contain as much pigment as possible. They are dense with colour. They are also made at a specific thickness for liquidity release and vibrance. In short, their potent chemistry helps them stay in the skin.
Tattoo removal works by breaking down ink particles, through light energy. Colours absorb light. So, while all tattoos are eligible for removal, it goes without saying that the more pigment (i.e. colour) that has been placed in your skin, the longer it will take to remove.
To add to the problem, tattoo inks can be made from a variety of materials. It is like the ‘Wild Wild West’ when it comes to this type of product. They can contain everything from witch hazel, crushed flowers, glycerine, propylene, ethanol, carbon black, iron oxide, titanium dioxide, cobalt, nickel, chromium and more. Basically, anything that works – even carcinogenic materials.
So, without knowing exactly what was put into the ink that was used on your skin, it’s hard to say what the outcome will be of your tattoo removal treatments. Some of these chemicals can cause adverse reactions when ‘mixed’ with a laser light beam. Some can also take longer to break down with lasers. That leaves us unable to predict the number of treatments required for tattoo removal.
And, to be honest, many tattoo artists won’t know what their inks are actually composed of. It’s a trust-based business.
Finally, if you are exposed to the sun a lot, you may have more tattoo fading than others. If you smoke, your immune system can be compromised, making laser tattoo removal a longer process for you.
I have a multi-coloured tattoo, can you remove all of it at once?
While darker black, blue, purple and green tattoos are the easiest to remove, modern technology has made it possible to treat almost all body ink colours. This includes orange and lighter hues of colours.
White and yellow can be hard (not impossible) to remove, because they can change colours during treatment too (don’t forget white is made up of many colours, which then interact with the laser). The most problematic colour for a tattoo removal laser is usually red. Though, the enlighten® laser we have in our office has been showing excellent results on this colour.
But, in short, yes! We can remove multi-coloured tattoos. They may take more treatment sessions than with plain black tattoos, but it’s possible.
Some practitioners do prefer some lasers and wavelengths for certain colours (especially red). However, our two tattoo removal lasers are able to cover this variety of pulses needed to treat coloured tattoos.
Despite all of the possibilities of removing your coloured tattoo, we would ask that you come in for a consultation to receive a proper assessment of your case. We’ll let you know if we think we can help, and what it will take to do so. Please also see our explanation above to learn how ink ingredients, tattoo age and lifestyle can also affect tattoo removal processes (it’s not just about colours).
Note that no tattoo removal treatment will be instant. You should expect a series of sessions to see results from laser tattoo removal.
Does my skin tone matter when getting laser tattoo removal?
If you have darker skin tone, this may interfere with a laser’s targeting of pigments to remove ink particles. This is because, of course, it is pigment that absorbs the light energy from lasers. So, if you have more pigment in your natural skin tone, then it is more likely you’ll absorb more energy from lasers. This only means we’ll need to be careful about the settings we use on your tattoo, to avoid burns. But, it is likely still possible to remove your tattoo.
What other options for tattoo removal are there?
The options for tattoo removal outside of modern lasers are limited. They are also not as effective, or come with side-effects, such as scarring.
These can include:
- Tattoo removal cream (though, these are not likely to be effective).
- Skin salabrasion or dermabrasion (this is painful, and leaves a mark).
- Glycolic acid injections (these leave a mark, and are not very effective).
- Totally removing the skin where the tattoo is (this not practical for large areas, and will create a scar).
Laser tattoo removal, however, is able to target just the ink of the tattoo. It is designed to leave your skin in-tact (with the exception of some minimal, healable blistering). This is the only type of tattoo removal we offer at our clinic.
What are the risks of laser tattoo removal?
The risks of tattoo laser removal are not going to be as high, or more numerous, than the risks of getting a tattoo in the first place.
As this report shows, the lack of regulation in the tattoo industry can result in problematic outcomes for those seeking a tattoo. They can include infections (including systemic ones), granulomas, eczema, psoriasis and other diseases. Plus, not knowing what is in the ink can mean carcinogenic chemicals being introduced to your body for long periods of time.
Having a tattoo can also affect MRI scans. While not really a health issue, they can also make you ineligible for other beauty treatments, such as laser hair removal.
And, let’s not forget that not all tattoos turn out to be the way we expected them. Whether they are loved at first or not, they can be a ‘satisfaction risk,’ in and of themselves (don’t get your partner’s name printed on your body, folks!). Even when used for medical reasons, such as to cover up skin conditions, the colour may not be exactly right.
So, by the time you’ve begun considering tattoo removal, you’ve already risked a lot, believe it or not :)
That said, there are some cautions you should know about, before deciding on tattoo removal. Though, they are not huge ones. These include:
- The possibility of scars or discolouration. This is greatly reduced with picosecond lasers, and our precision technique, which we’ve perfected over time.
- Blisters or redness after treatment. We use Polysporin® for this, and ask you to avoid the sun and swimming pools for a period of time, to heal.
That’s pretty much it! That said, you should always undergo laser tattoo removal with a trained professional – preferably with some medical background. This is because all lasers can be dangerous if not used properly and carefully.
What is the price of tattoo removal at your Surrey skincare clinic?
Thanks to the efficiency of picosecond technology, we’re able to offer an amazing price for tattoo removal in Vancouver. This is because we can do the job in fewer treatments.
Each person’s tattoo removal cost will depend on the variables of their tattoo. That can include the size of the tattoo, the depth of ink in the skin, the age of the tattoo, the skin tone of the person with the tattoo to be removed, and so on.
The best way to find out what laser tattoo removal will cost at our Surrey skincare clinic is to come in for a consultation, so we can take a look. We encourage you to book now!
*Note that multiple treatments will always be needed for any type of laser tattoo removal. Results may vary from person to person. No guarantee on the number of treatments required can be accurately made for any tattoo.