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The Current State of the Art in Laser Tattoo Removal


Robert H. Burke, MD, FACS Discusses the Current State of the Art in Laser Tattoo Removal: “Its all about the wavelength”

Dr. Robert Burke, a dual board certified cosmetic surgeon has been removing tattoos for over 23 years. As founder and director of the Michigan Center for Cosmetic Surgery he has seen the evolution of tattoo removal treatments from abrasion techniques to today's precision lasers. But, lasers are not all alike. Often the differences are as extreme as comparing a commuter bicycle to a Ferrari. " Tattoo removal is all about the wavelength of laser light that is used to remove the tattoo," says Dr.Burke. He explains that tattoos are made of various colors. Each color interacts with a different wavelength of light. " The wavelength of light hits a specific color target causing that color to disappear by breaking up the color pigments into many microparticles which are taken away by the body's cells." Here is a tattoo removed in 3 sessions using the long wavelength.

Burke Tattoo Removal
Tattoo Removal -- 3 Sessions using the Long Wavelength

Visible colors are in 3 main groups: black, blue-green, and red-orange-yellow. Black colors are are treated with the longest wavelength. Blue-green are treated by a wavelength of laser light halfway between the dark and light colors. The lightest colors, red, orange and yellow are treated by a shorter wavelength (half of the longest wavelength).

"In order to effectively remove tattoos of a color group, a laser producing the right wavelength of light is necessary."

Dr. Burke prefers the Quanta Q plus C laser based on his extensive evaluation of the latest laser technology. This laser produces three wavelength of laser light which target the dark to light spectrum of colors. (most lasers produce one wavelength of light) This laser also has a square beam which delivers uniform laser energy (versus a spot beam which is rounded and delivers variable energy throughout the spot). Healing is faster and treatment times are reduced, due to this laser and its precision. Treatments are fast. This laser takes seconds to minutes to treat most tattoos. Patients who have been treated with standard tattoo removal lasers before being treated with this laser have say that it is more comfortable and an anesthetic is not necessary.