10 STEPS TO FINDING A QUALIFIED LASER TATTOO REMOVAL SPECIALIST – Lorenzo Kunze, Jr – Lead Instructor at ILA (International Laser Academy, Rochester NY) – ILASERACADEMY.COM
1. Finding the right laser specialist can be difficult whether you live in a small town or a large city. Your options can either be very limited or overwhelming depending on where you live. Either way, if you want to find the best tattoo removal specialist, you must do your homework. Often the easiest way to find a reputable clinic is to ask someone who has been through the tattoo removal process. Having had multiple treatments, they often have a wealth of knowledge because they have already built up a professional relationship with their laser operator. They can inform you about the facilities cleanliness, professionalism, equipment, pricing, and the efficiency of their treatments. If you cannot find someone that has had tattoo removal, try visiting a few tattoo parlors in your area. Tattoo artists often send their clients to laser clinics to have old or poor tattoos lightened so they can do more detailed cover ups. Most tattooists can tell you which clinics have good reputations and which you should stay away from.
2. After you have been referred to a trusted clinic, call and ask to speak to the person who performs the procedure. This will give you an idea of how knowledgeable and professional they are. Your first questions should be about their experience. Anyone can take a 2-3 day course and become certified to remove tattoos (I know this because I teach these types of classes, and not every laser specialist or training program is created equal). Some students may take at 3-6 months to become an experienced professional. This requires students to partake in a personalized hands-on mentorship including enrollment in continued education courses where they gain experience by performing many free treatments for clients who are willing to be models.
3. Learning about a technician’s training can sometimes be tricky. You will need to find a certified laser operator, specialist or technician, however each operator must follow their states rules and regulations (and each state is different). There are plenty of individuals practicing laser tattoo removal who are very qualified and have been successfully treating patients for many years. By doing your homework and seeing how confident your technician is in answering these types of questions, you should get a good idea of their commitment to learning the art of tattoo removal.
4. Making sure a clinic has the right type of laser is one of the most important steps in finding a facility that can provide you with you the best results. There are many Q-Switched lasers on the market and they are not all created equal. A lower-end tattoo removal laser can be purchased for about a $10,000.00, while more advanced lasers (those that can remove ALL COLORS of INK) are in the $100,000 dollar range. In this industry, you get what you pay for. Here are a few lasers that I know provide the best results and treatment experience. The Cynosure Rev-Lite S and the Quanta Q Plus C are highly respected machines and are proven to provide the best results because of their versatility and efficiency. Both of these machines have great reputations and are very capable of removing tattoo ink, but they are currently being eclipsed by newer technologies. There are also some lasers that I would not suggest, they are lower-end lasers that cannot produce the power needed to completely remove the tattoo.
5. Next you are going to want to see the clinic’s proficiency in removing tattoos. The best way to do this is by asking to see the laser technician’s portfolio of before and after photos. A technician who claims to be successful in this business should have at least five or six before and after photos readily available or on their website. If the photos look grainy or old they may be from another clinic’s webpage or from the company they purchased the laser from. A good way to tell if the pictures are legitimate is to look for a freckle/birthmark or something on the person’s skin that is visible in both the before and after photo (It’s easy to take a picture of one arm with ink and then take a picture of the opposite arm with no ink, making it look like the tattoo has been removed).
6. Now that you have established that your chosen professional has the proper training, equipment and has had success removing tattoos you can start inquiring about the actual tattoo removal process. A true professional will answer your questions confidently and honestly.
You want to ask essential questions:
- How does the laser remove the ink?
- How many treatments?
- Will it be painful?
- Will the laser scar me?
- How long do I wait between treatments?
- How much will it cost?
- What type of laser do you use?
- How do I care for it post treatment?
7. Asking about the recovery process and the aftercare will give you a good idea of what to expect post-treatment. The steps your laser specialist takes to make sure you have all the knowledge and tools needed to care for the treated area will give you a good of idea of how invested they are in making sure their clients are comfortable. Your technician should also give you detailed instructions explaining how to properly clean and care for your tattoo once you get home. These instructions should have a 24-hour contact number and a list of what you can expect during the healing process.
8. Before being treated you’re going to want to ask about the possible side effects of laser treatments. Although permanent side effects are rare, your skin will feel tender for a day or two, almost like having slight sunburn. The treated area will have some swelling and may form a scab or blister depending on which color of the tattoo was treated. After the healing process you will begin to see the tattoo starting to fade. Most side effects usually result from clients not following the aftercare instructions or from clients being treated with the wrong type of equipment, so again do your homework.
9. Finding a clinic that has a Medical Director on staff (medical doctor or registered nurse) is a very good sign that the clinic cares about maintaining proper medical protocol and their clients’ well being. Not all states, provinces or countries require clinics to have a medical director. So try not to let this step be the deciding factor in getting treated, but if you do find a clinic that has one it’s always a plus.
10. The price of tattoo removal should be the least important factor in finding the right clinic for you. Tattoo removal has always been a costly procedure, but as more clinics open up every day, competition is making it more affordable for the public. The average treatment should cost between $175 – $200 dollars per square inch of ink (per treatment), and could increase depending on the tattoo’s size, color, and location. Sometimes clients who are trying to get the best price possible will bounce from clinic to clinic depending on whose offering discounted promotions at different times of the year. Price hunting can jeopardize your results and can end up costing you more money in the long run. Every time a laser specialist removes a tattoo they have a game plan, and they know the next step required to remove the tattoo efficiently. If you keep switching clinics, then the person treating you will not know what stage you are at; which can result in a treatment that yields little to no results. This type of switching will eventually require more treatments and ultimately end up costing more money when it’s all said and done.