The ex is gone, but the tattoo remains — how can you get rid of that?

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

The PicoSure laser can help with all sorts of skin issues, including removing tattoos.

Sommer said, “People call in with questions and then they look on our social media and ask questions. So these are the most commonly asked questions I get. First one being how many sessions will it take? So I usually say between five and 10. It could be more than 10. The sessions are spaced eight to 12 weeks apart. So it’s a long term commitment. We can’t erase it overnight. Depending on the size, and the concentration of ink, how old the tattoo is, it might be greater than 10.”

Some tatts can fade even after two sessions.

Sommer said, “I’ve had some really great results where we’re up to almost four treatments, and it’s almost all gone. That one was after two. Again, it depends on the size of the ink, how concentrated the ink is. Sometimes like that picture, you almost couldn’t tell what the object was, originally, because over time, the ink can start to I guess what I see is like, I don’t know if it’s the body breaking down the ink, which I think it is, but you can’t see the outline of the design anymore. So it kind of clumps together.”

The PicoSure does break down pigment in skin rejuvenation.

Sommer said, “The laser shatters the ink and it kind of makes it into little dust particles, and then your body absorbs it and takes it away. But it is a process over time.”

Can the process be sped up?

“You cannot,” Sommer said, “It takes time for your body to heal, a minimum of eight weeks. Eight to 12 weeks is what we say. If you let it go past 12 weeks, you’re not hurting anything, you’re actually just giving more time for your body to break down that ink. You want to make sure that the skin doesn’t usually break our blister, but still we hit it with a laser, so you want to make sure it’s completely healed. Hitting it too soon can actually cause damage to the skin and pigmentation issues. So there is no way to speed it up.”

What is the cost?

Sommer said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Pico laser or any type of tattoo removal laser that you go to, it depends on the size. So you’re you come in for a consultation, and depending on your size, how much it’s going to be per session. If you have multiple tattoos that are going to be removed, sometimes we can do more than one at the same time. It just depends on location and if they wrap around an extremity or not, because those need to be broken down into multiple sessions. So what you normally can expect, and this is, whatever your tattoo cost, it’s going to be almost 10 times more to remove. Or as somebody told me, whatever the price of the tattoo was, add a zero on it that is going to be to remove. I know that sounds anxiety provoking because now you want to remove the mistake and you think, oh my god, I’m going to go into debt. But remember, we can offer a package or you can pay by session, and just make it every three months. So you can budget the removal and make the removal within your budget. It can be reversed and it doesn’t come back.”

Does it hurt?

“It hurt to get it put on,” Sommer reminded. “But we do numb the area for 30 to 40 minutes. Everybody’s pain tolerance is different. When I had the laser on my face, to me, it wasn’t that bad. Some people say it’s not that bad. Other people say it really hurts. But we do numb 30 to 40 minutes. Certain areas seem to be more sensitive and I think it’s because they don’t have as much fatty tissue around it and that’s the ankles, hands, feet, lower back tends to be very sensitive. Like I said the tattoo wasn’t painless going on, so it’s not going to be pain free coming off.”

Does it leave a scar?

Sommer said, “Not usually. Scarring can occur from actually getting the tattoo itself and then some people do cover their scars with a tattoo so when it is removed, it won’t remove a scar that has been there before. Another way you can get a scar after a tattoo treatment is sometimes they do blister or scab. Do not pick it because it’s like picking acne on your face, you get scarring. So if you have a blister or it could scab which is not uncommon, don’t pick at it because then yes you can cause skin pigmentation issues and scarring.”

What if a tattoo was revised?

Sommer said, “I’ve had people come in now that we’re removing a tattoo and they had a revision where they tried to cover up what was there before and then sometimes what happens is the ink underneath starts to show through the newer tattoos, so then it doesn’t look nice anymore. So a lot of times, they’ll come in for lightening, which is possible and that might take two to four treatments, depending again, how light we can get it. Even the tattoo artist might recommend you getting it lightened. So you may need to be work with them to find out when it’s enlightened enough for you to go ahead and get it redone.”

What are the side effects?

Sommer said, “Like anything, there are some side effects that are to be expected. Your body’s immune system is breaking down the pigment. So when the laser hits it, and it shatters the pigment, you’re signaling your body like oh, we have to do something, we have to take this terrible ink out of our body. So you will have redness, there may be tenderness, swelling, again, some blistering, scabs and bruising, hyperpigmentation, hypo-pigmentation, depending on your skin type, while the PicoSure is good for all skin types, we do have to pay a little bit more attention to people with darker skin tones because we don’t want to offset their pigment. The side effects should be temporary. The redness, tenderness and swelling, usually it’s for a day or two, Using a moisturizer, a thick, heavy barrier cream to protect that area for the first couple of days, staying out of the sun, keeping in covered if you’re going to go into the sun, those are things  you need to do afterwards. A blister can appear within a day or two after the treatment. Try not to pop them. Blisters tend to pop on their own, but it’s better to let it happen naturally, then you pop it yourself. The scabs and bruising may take a week or so to heal. Just keep it covered. You can always apply antibiotic ointment and just keep the moisturizer on it and everything should resolve over a week.”

The consultation is free.

Sommer said, “I had somebody ask me if I would do a TikTok with them while they removed their ex’s name. So stand by for that.”

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