The procedure, which uses pulsed lasers that emit concentrated light energy in short bursts, complies with FDA requirements for safety and effectiveness and has been used in tattoo removal for the past two decades. The entire process takes time and the results may not be perfect.
FDA experts pointed out various colors of ink absorb different wavelengths of light, so tattoos with more than one color may need more than one type of laser. They noted that lighter colors, such as green, red and yellow, are harder to remove than dark colors, such as blue or black.
From start to finish, tattoo removal typically requires six to 10 treatments, depending on its size and colors. A few weeks of healing time is required between treatments, the FDA added.
"Complete removal, with no scarring, is sometimes not possible," Kosoglu said in an FDA news release.
The pain involved in the process of laser tattoo removal varies from person to person. The sensation involved has been compared to being spattered with drops of hot bacon grease or being snapped with a rubber band. The treatment can also be adjusted depending on a patient's comfort level.
The FDA said laser devices are cleared for use by, or under the supervision of, a health care professional who understands which laser to use, how skin will react and how to treat the skin after the procedure.
"If you have any concerns about having a tattoo removed, it's a good idea to consult your dermatologist, who is knowledgeable about laser treatments," FDA dermatologist Dr. Markham Luke said in the news release.
Dermabrasion, or "sanding" away the top layer of skin, cutting away the tattoo and sewing the skin back together, is another FDA-approved method of tattoo removal. The safety and effectiveness of tattoo-removal ointments and creams that you can buy online, however, has not been confirmed.
"The FDA has not approved them, and is not aware of any clinical
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