I cannot make this fact any simpler.
Over the last few months I have seen an increase in clients presenting with tattoos that were treated using IPL Hair Removal Lasers. These clients were all assured by the laser operators that IPL Lasers can remove tattoos. So many have gone ahead and been treated using an IPL Laser.
What has resulted in most cases are irreparable scars and tattoos that are ‘baked’ into the skin. The immediate effects are severe blistering and burns to the skin followed by weeks of slow healing and pain.
The issue was highlighted by Choice Magazine’s writer Andy Kollmorgen (July 2014) in an article “Tattoo removal – If the price sounds too good to be true, chances are you’re going to get burned.”
It’s no coincidence that proper Q-switched machines cost about $150,000, while IPL lasers go for between $10,000 and $15,000. The lower cost of getting into the business in recent years is one reason for the sharp increase in the number of tattoo removers.
“The problem is that the IPL lasers function in milliseconds instead of nanoseconds, and the wavelength is too broad,” Bekhor points out. “They’re marketed as an all-purpose machine, including tattoo removal, but shouldn’t be used for that purpose. They often cause distorting of the tattoo and horrific burns and scars.”
Quinn makes the same point. “Every second beautician seems to be offering tattoo removal with an IPL laser these days. It should not be used for that. It shoots a block of light of about two by six centimetres rather than the five to eight millimetre pinpricks of Q-switched lasers. It’s like trying to crack an egg with a machine gun.”
IPL Lasers are designed to remove hair. They do that by using a long pulse of laser energy to heat the hair follicle to 70 degrees Celsius and destroy the follicle and the root by using heat.
Tattoo Removal Lasers are designed to target tattoo ink. They use laser energy pulsed in billionths of a second to shatter ink into micro particles using photo-acoustic shockwaves.
Using an IPL Laser to treat a tattoo heats the ink. It does not shatter it. The effect is similar to the way a laser printer fuses toner to paper. The printer uses heat to make the toner stick to the paper. The IPL Laser has a similar effect to tattoo ink, it makes it permanent in many cases as well as causing burns and blistering as the ink overheats.
Good quality laser tattoo removal should never be decided simply on price. A tattoo can be safely removed – A scar cannot be removed.
Do your research before settling on a laser tattoo removal specialist. Check websites and reviews. Look at Before and After Images. Ask questions especially about the equipment used. As the Choice article points out, proper laser tattoo removal systems cost around $150,000, so why settle for anything less than the best?
I agree completely with the Choice article “Tattoo removal – If the price sounds too good to be true, chances are you’re going to get burned.”
And most importantly NEVER use an IPL Hair Removal Laser for tattoo removal at any price.