Looking Ahead: Laser Tattoo Removal
Dr. Evans Bailey
Tattoos, by nature, are exceptionally personal. Ink driven deep into the skin mimics the lasting sentiments behind the tattoo itself. But sometimes, throughout seasons of life, sentiments change. Loves are lost. Personal situations vary and professional opportunities arise. Things change, people change. All the while, the permanence of a tattoo can be a painful reminder, a regretful burden to carry, or a source of insecurity going forward. For that reason, Dr. Bailey, surgical dermatologist and owner of Naaman Clinic, is passionate about safe, efficient, and effective laser tattoo removal to restore the skin and enhance the confidence of the patient.
Dr. Bailey is one of the few fellowship-trained laser surgeons in the state of Alabama, having led and participated in laser research at the University of Michigan, where he evaluated the efficacy of a variety of laser procedure techniques on a diverse population of patients.
“We often think about tattoo removal and imagine a lost love, a misspelled word, or a youthful regret. And while that may be the case for several patients, for some, the memories behind a tattoo are often particularly emotional,” says Dr. Bailey.
Dr. Bailey describes one laser tattoo removal patient, a breast cancer survivor, who received a tattoo to guide her radiation treatment.
“During her radiation, she was incredibly grateful for that tattoo,” says Dr. Bailey. “But like many people looking for tattoo removal, she had entered a new phase of life. She wanted to look forward, not back, and laser tattoo removal could help her in the journey ahead.”
At Naaman Clinic, Dr. Bailey combines his years of training in laser surgery and the most effective and most precise technology—the Lumenis fractionated carbon dioxide laser and the Italian-made Quanta Laser—to ensure the clearance of tattoos in the fewest possible treatments. And since the personal nature of tattoos often means the treatment can be an emotional experience for patients, the goal of each tattoo removal procedure at Naaman Clinic is to provide the highest quality patient care in a space that feels secure and puts the patient at ease as their skin is restored.
What to Expect
In terms of laser surgeries, laser tattoo removal requires the greatest amount of technology. Tattoo inks are widely variable, and depending on the artist, the skin, the number of and color types of ink, the size of the tattoo, and the location of the tattoo on the body, the number of treatments is also variable.
In order to achieve the best results in the fewest possible treatments, Dr. Bailey utilizes a novel approach first developed by laser surgeons in Boston and New York. This procedure is not currently used by other laser surgeons in Alabama. Traditional tattoo removal relies on a two- or three-wavelength laser to target the ink particles. This traditional approach is limited in that it is unable to clear certain colors of ink, it cannot clear certain colors implanted deep in the skin, and it can sometimes leave a “shadow” scar in place of the tattoo. Dr. Bailey addresses these limitations by combining a state of the art, three-wavelength Quanta tattoo removal laser with the latest generation Lumenis fractionated carbon dioxide laser. This powerful but precise combination allows for treatment of virtually any tattoo color with better cosmetic results than traditional laser tattoo removal.
Each color of tattoo ink absorbs light at a different wavelength. The Quanta Laser has three wavelengths to target different colors of ink, and it is one of the few lasers that uses the unique ruby Q-switched laser, which is more effective than other lasers in removing many vivid tattoo inks. The Quanta Laser delivers short bursts of energy which break down the structure of small ink particles without damaging the skin, allowing the body to absorb and eliminate the ink.
The carbon dioxide laser, in turn, causes elimination of ink particles by providing “micro-channels” in the skin through which targeted ink can be shed. Inks that do not respond to the Quanta Laser or inks that reflect laser light, such as white, can now be targeted and removed by the Lumenis carbon dioxide laser.
For most patients, combining the carbon dioxide laser with the Quanta Laser will result in faster, safer, more effective tattoo removal. In Dr. Bailey’s years of research, study, and training, he has found this combination to be the most effective approach for tattoo removal. This approach can only be performed by a licensed physician, and Dr. Bailey performs all laser tattoo removals at Naaman Clinic.
The Initial Consultation
At the initial consultation, Dr. Bailey will get to know each patient, both personally and in relation to their tattoo. During this time, he will assess the patient’s skin type and the tattoo—including the size of the tattoo and ink color. From there, Dr. Bailey will explain the procedure to the patient and will develop a customized patient-care plan. Open communication is at the core of Naaman Clinic, and Dr. Bailey creates an environment for patients to ask questions and express concerns about the upcoming treatment without judgement. By the end of the consultation, the patient will be informed about the process, the expected outcome, and the estimated number of treatment sessions needed to clear the tattoo.
Because of the variability of tattoo types, locations, and ink colors, the number of treatment sessions varies case by case. However, regardless of the number of treatments required to clear the tattoo from the skin, Dr. Bailey and Naaman Clinic strive to create a comfortable environment for the procedure and to provide technology that ensures an essentially pain-free process.
In most cases, Dr. Bailey will provide local anesthesia to fully numb the tattoo before the laser procedure. As a surgeon, Dr. Bailey is highly skilled at performing “ring blocks” to entirely numb a tattoo by first numbing the perimeter of a tattoo. Dr. Bailey also uses the non-invasive Zimmer Chiller to move frigid air over the skin, partially numbing the area prior to the procedure. If the patient desires additional numbing options, Dr. Bailey will gladly prescribe topical creams prior to the laser session to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
Once the skin is numb, patients wear protective eyewear as the carbon dioxide laser and the Quanta Laser sends short bursts of energy into the skin, targeting the ink molecules. Patients typically do not feel the procedure at all. Individual treatment sessions remove a “layer” of ink, working deeper into the tattoo each time, until all ink is broken down and cleared by the body.
After each treatment session, the area may appear “crusty” as the body absorbs the ink, but in general, the patient is able to return to their normal daily activity immediately. Treatment sessions are typically scheduled four to six weeks apart, allowing time for the skin to regenerate and the ink to clear.
Dr. Bailey will evaluate progress during each treatment session, setting the plan going forward until full tattoo clearance is achieved. Dr. Bailey’s laser research and fellowship training and the unique combination of the Lumenis fractionated carbon dioxide laser and the Quanta Laser ensure the highest standard of care and the best possible results in laser tattoo removal. Naaman Clinic offers the opportunity for patients to enter a place of healing and encouragement as they undergo the laser tattoo removal process. Through personalized care, patients at Naaman Clinic receive the best possible results in the fewest number of treatments.
For more information on laser tattoo removal or other surgical dermatology procedures, please contact Naaman Clinic at 205 453 4195 or firstname.lastname@example.org.