Tattoo Removal

The Boston Globe - MAWelcome to New England Tattoo Removal, a service of Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery and Laser Center. Our medical director, Dr. Stuart H. Bentkover, has over 25 years of experience with cosmetic lasers. Currently we use the Revilite SI® Q-Switched Laser to remove or modify tattoos anywhere on your body. This state-of–the-art Q-switched laser offers four different wavelengths (colors of laser light) for treating most colors in tattoos, including black, blue, blue-black, green, red, orange, purple and pink. We treat many people who want their tattoos removed, modified or lightened so that can be replaced. We will work with your tattoo artist to partially remove a tattoo you want modified.

About the Laser

We use one of the most advanced lasers available for tattoo removal, the Revilite SI® Q-Switched Laser. A Q-switched laser generates a very short pulse that shatters the pigment. The pulse is one-billionth of a second long. This laser combines an Nd:YAG Laser (532 and 1064 nanometers) for treating all colors with a Ruby Laser for treating green more specifically and a 585 nanometer Dye Laser for treating blue more specifically.

Tattoo Removal Testimonials:

  1. I got my tattoo while in college. Now that I am a professional and during presentations people often seem to be pay more attention to the tattoo on my arm than to my work. I have had a number of treatments, and it is almost gone. R
  2. At 35 years of age, I decided to have the tattoo on my upper arm removed by Dr Bentkover. After just a few treatments, I have had amazing results. The tattoo has faded about 70% with virtually no scarring at all. The process is quick and safe, and the entire office staff is very caring and “super” friendly! K
  3. My treatments are progressing quickly, and everyone in the office has been so nice to me. I would recommend Dr. Bentkover to any of my friends for laser tattoo removal or any other cosmetic surgery. A

Are there significant risks?

Most laser tattoo removal leaves behind normal looking skin. While scars are possible, they are unusual. That said, some areas of skin are more susceptible to healing with a scar than others. In some areas, like the small of the back, we have to go slower with the treatments to avoid scarring. If you have deeply pigmented skin, the laser may lighten the skin in the area. It cannot discern the brown pigment in your skin from the blue, black or brown in the tattoo. Black is very hard to treat without hypopigmentation. Dr. Bentkover is very precise in his treatments, but the spread of heat from the lasered area can sometimes lighten the skin around the tattoo. Also, the darker the tattoo, the more chance there is that the skin may heal a bit lighter (hypo-pigmented). Very dark tattoos that require many treatments can sometimes also leave behind skin that is a bit thinner. An incompletely removed tattoo can leave a ghost-like appearance, and sometimes this may be as good as you can expect. We have many very happy patients, but you must be realistic as you enter into treatment. At the time of your consultation, Dr. Bentkover will answer all your questions about the risks and likely outcome of laser treatments. He will tell you if he does not think the treatments will be worth the cost.

What does it cost?

Before treating your tattoo, Dr. Bentkover will see you in consultation to discuss how reasonable it may or may not be to treat your particular tattoo. The cost of the consultation is $100. If you are treated the same day, the cost of the consultation will be subtracted from your first treatment.

The cost of treatment varies depending on the size of the tattoo. An area about the size of a standard business card is $250 per treatment. Twice that size is $350 per treatment, and four times that size is $400 per treatment.

R-20

R-20 is a treatment technique that may shorten the amount of time it takes to remove your tattoo. When the laser treats the tattoo, the skin over the tattoo temporarily takes on a whitish appearance. This is probably from gas that forms under the skin, blocking further attempts for the laser to “see” the pigment. If you wait about 20 minutes, this will clear, allowing re-treatment of the tattoo the same day. The laser is then treating pigment that has already been broken up once, making it theoretically more effective. Some tattoos can be treated 3 or 4 times the same day. Not all tattoos can be treated this way. It depends on the concentration of the pigment, the color of your skin, and the location of the tattoo. This treatment technique is more expensive per treatment session, but you might wind up needing less treatment sessions.

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Reasons for Removing Tattoo and Some Precautions

Our patients want to remove or modify their tattoos for many different reasons. Some want parts of a tattoo removed to have it “done over”. Some want to forget the old boyfriend, girl friend or spouse (as does the new spouse). Some do not want their children to see the tattoo. Some who are in business or other professions realize that their tattoo is just in the wrong place. Some just do not like their tattoo anymore.

Even before you get a tattoo you need to have a realistic idea about how easy or difficult it might be to remove or modify it. Here are a few pointers to consider:

  • Alcohol or drugs and a decision to have a tattoo do not mix well.
  • The time to get your first tattoo is not the night of your bachelor or bachelorette party. We commonly get emergency calls after these events. It cannot be removed before your wedding two days later.
  • Love is a wonderful thing but unfortunately is not always forever. Please do not put your lover’s name on your body. Especially please do not put it on the small of your back.
  • Yellow, beige, white and flesh color are almost impossible to remove. Orange, turquoise and some greens can be very difficult to remove.
  • Some of the newer dyes used for tattoos can make removal of any color a challenge.
  • If you have most of an arm, leg or your chest tattooed, satisfactory removal is probably not reasonable to expect.
  • Ultimately the ability to remove a tattoo depends on your body. The lasers shatter the pigment. This stimulates your own white blood cells to enter the area to remove the pigment. Everyone’s white blood cells respond at different rates.
  • Sometimes a tattoo cannot be completely removed.
  • Think twice before you have a second tattoo placed over a tattoo you do not like. If you do not like the second tattoo, it will be harder to remove than the original tattoo. Placing more ink into the skin makes the tattoo harder to remove. Consider a laser tattoo removal consultation on the original tattoo before you decide to cover it up. We see many patients each year who started out with a small tattoo that could probably have been removed or modified fairly easily with a laser and now have a very large tattoo that really cannot be removed effectively . Know your options before you make a choice.
  • Dark skin and lasers often do not get along well.

YOUR PROCEDURE

Worcester Before and After Tattoo Removal
photos

We do laser tattoo removal in our Worcester office. Each treatment usually takes less than 10 minutes. The treatment is uncomfortable but tolerable. We will give you a prescription for a locally formulated topical anesthetic cream that you should apply about 45 minutes to 1 hour before you appointment. After the treatment, our nurse will apply a clear sterile dressing called Tegaderm™ to the area. We like to leave the Tegaderm™ on for 3-5 days. You can apply ice to the area for 20 minutes every hour that day and 20 minutes every 2 hours the next day (while awake) if you wish. The Tegaderm™ and the ice significantly decrease the pain. If you do not need Tegaderm™, you can apply an over the counter topical ointment called Aquaphor™. We will advise you on which to use.

Stoneham Tattoo RemovalYou will be given a prescription for a cream called Silvadene®. The laser penetrates to the level of a second-degree burn. Silvadene® Is a burn cream. If there is any blistering after you remove the Tegaderm™ or while using Aquaphor™, we like you to apply this cream to the entire tattoo three times daily until the wound is dry. Blistering is not uncommon, and “pin point” bleeding is not unusual. The bleeding is from penetration of the laser to the deep dermis as it seeks out the pigment. The post treatment pain is like a bad sun burn and is usually effectively treated with Ibuporfen (e.g. Advil®) and an ice pack. Please do not plan to be away on vacation for 10 days after a treatment and please refrain from strenuous physical activity at least until the lasered area is dry. You can expect to start seeing some clearing of the area treated about 4-6 weeks after the treatment. You must protect the lasered area from the sun. Sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmentation (increased brown skin pigment) in the treated area.


FAQ

WILL THE TREATMENT HURT?

Yes. The treatment is uncomfortable but tolerable. You will be give a prescription of a topical anesthetic cream to apply before the treatment. Ice helps a lot after the treatment.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

This is not entirely predictable. The number of treatments required depends on the type, number and density of the colors. Generally, the darker and more complex the mix of colors, the more the number of treatments required. Simple India ink tattoos may require 2 to 4 treatments. Complicated tattoos with deep colors may require as many as 10 to 15 treatments. R-20 is a technique that may shorten the course of treatment. It means that we treat the tattoo multiple times (20 minutes apart) on the same day.

HOW LONG WILL THE TREATMENT TAKE?

Individual treatment sessions are usually 10 minutes or less. We treat tattoos at 2 month intervals, so 8 treatments, for example, would take about 16 months.

CAN THE TREATMENT LEAVE A SCAR?

Yes, but this would be unusual. It is most common on the small of the back.

WHAT ARE THE HARDEST COLORS TO REMOVE?

Red, yellow and orange. Sometimes deep green.

WHAT WILL THE SKIN LOOK LIKE WHEN IT IS HEALED?

Usually pretty close to “normal”. Sometimes the skin may be a bit lighter than it was originally. Sometimes, there may be some remaining tattoo pigment that we cannot eliminate, usually fairly faint. This is most common with reds, yellows and oranges.

CAN YOU ELIMINATE EVERY TATTOO COMPLETELY?

Not. Some very deep pigments may be very hard to remove, and the depth of the pigments is not always the same throughout the tattoo. Also, red, yellow and orange are harder to remove. Some relatively faint pigment may remain.

WILL SOMEONE HOLD MY HAND DURING THE TREATMENT?

If you wish.

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