Occasionally patients refer to post-treatment hypopigmentation following laser tattoo removal and call it a “scar”. This is a common misconception so I’d like to discuss it. Regardless of whether a patient receives treatment with some POS nano (SLOW) Q-switched laser, or is lucky enough to find a good PicoSure laser provider for tattoo removal, mild hypopigmentation is usually present throughout the series of treatments. This is due to the pigment (melanin) being removed via the same mechanism as the tattoo ink itself. However, once the tattoo is gone and treatments are discontinued, the cells that make melanin are usually able to repigment the affected skin. The repigmentation process can take months, and in some cases years, depending on skin type, number of treatments received, type of laser used and other factors. A board certified dermatologist can prescribe topical steroid creams and other treatments to speed up the process once the ink is gone. Hypopigmentation is also often camouflaged with semi-permanent flesh-tone tattoo inks by an experienced esthetician.
So why do patients sometimes confuse hypopigmentation with scarring? It’s probably because scars are often hypopigmented so there’s a visual association present. Scar tissue that forms after an injury may not contain enough melanocytes to repigment the area, which leaves it white in appearance. White scars, such as those from a surgical procedure, may be permanent whereas transient hypopigmentation, caused by a PicoSure laser is temporary in the vast majority of cases.
Fortunately, the PicoSure laser pulses so quickly (picosecond = trillionth of a second) that it is considered extremely gentle on the skin and unlikely to cause an injury that would result in scar formation even if hypopigmentation is present. If you would like to discuss your tattoo removal options, or have already decided you want your ink safely and completely removed by Texas most experienced PicoSure laser provider, I can be reached in Austin, TX @ my new location: Austin Medspa 512-479-9997.