Lighter colors such as turquoise, greens, yellows and fluorescents are often difficult to remove because they provide very little contrast between a tattoo and the surrounding skin. The science behind this is fairly straightforward. Lasers operate according to certain color spectrums. This allows ink pigments corresponding to the color spectrum to absorb the lasers’ energy, causing the pigments to fragment. The body’s immune system absorbs the pigment particles, resulting in gradual fading of the tattoo. Unfortunately, lighter tattoo colors tend to be on the border, or even outside of, a laser’s targeted color spectrums. This makes it difficult for the laser to target the pigment.
Traditional lasers generally cannot remove lighter ink colors. But newer laser technologies, such as the PicoSure (Q-switch) laser, can obliterate even the most stubborn tattoo colors. They do this using photomechanical energy. Lasers like the PicoSure “explode” the pigment without affecting the surrounding tissue. This explosion fragments ink, enabling tattoos to fade faster.
Other factors also influence a laser’s ability to remove tattoos. Newer tattoos, for example, are more difficult to remove because the pigment is highly concentrated in the skin’s dermis. Amateur tattoos may also be more resistant to removal because the ink pigments are typically not evenly distributed across the skin.