Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser
The Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser is a type of laser developed to remove blue, brown, black and possibly other colors of tattoo pigment and certain brown growths and birthmarks from the skin. Although laser surgery is effective in most cases, no guarantee can be made that a specific patient will benefit from the treatment. Repeated laser treatments are often necessary. The tattoo or pigmentation will be treated at intervals of two months or longer until either the entire pigment is removed or further improvement is deemed unlikely.
The number of treatment with the Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser will vary depending on the lesion, size, location, color and age of the patient and age of tattoo. Most likely total 3-7 visits/treatments or more will be necessary.
Instructions for skin care after Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser Treatment
You have been treated with Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser. The treated area is very delicate and should be treated with care. Please read and follow instructions given.
Care of the treated area
- Keep the treated area dry for 24 hours following the Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser Treatment.
- Remove the dressing after 24 hours.
- If it is difficult to remove the dressing, soak it in saline solution (salt water) to loosen it.
- Clean the wound with the prescribed cleansing solution using cotton balls. Apply gentle pressure and clean the wound and the edges.
- After cleansing the wound, dry the wound.
- Apply antibiotic ointment with cotton applicators.(Q-tips)
- Cover the wound with a non-stick dressing (eg.Melolin).This will prevent the dressing from sticking to the wound. Secure the dressing with tape.
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the treated area twice a day for 7 days or until the surface is totally healed.
- Showers are permitted. Gently pat the area dry. Do not rub with a towel or wash cloth because the area is extremely delicate when a crust is present.
- You may experience some discomfort after Q-Switched Nd: YAG Laser Treatment. For adults take two tablets of paracetamol (eg.Panadol) every six hours for pain when necessary (if you are not allergic to it).
- If swelling occurs, an ice pack wrapped in a soft cloth can be applied.
Treatment of Tattoo Removal
Precautions to take following your laser treatment
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun. Use a sunblock.
- Do not rub, scratch or pick at the treated area. A protective dressing should be applied if the area is irritated by clothing or jewellery.
- Do not apply make-up until the crust disappears.(Usually 2 to 4 days)
- Avoid swimming and contact sport while crusts are present.
- If the treated area shows signs of infection (tenderness, redness, swelling or pus), notify your doctor or the Nurse-in-Charge, Operating Theatre, National skin Centre.
What are the side effects and possible complications of laser surgery?
You will feel some pain during treatment. The pain is mild and it is similar to snapping the skin with a rubber band. Some areas are more sensitive than others.
Laser surgery may cause a superficial burn on the surface of the skin which takes several days to heal. This may result in swelling, weeping and crusting of the treated area. This usually takes 4 to 10 days to heal.
In most patients the treated area loses pigmentation (hypopigmentation) and becomes lighter in color than the surrounding skin temporarily. This type of reaction tends to gradually fade away and return to normal over a period of 2-4 weeks. With repeated treatments the pigment loss may become more persistent and takes longer to resolve (up to 6 to 8 months).There is a risk of permanent pigment loss in the area of treatment, resulting in a white area similar in shape to the original tattoo or pigmented lesion being treated. This is rare and is usually avoidable by allowing adequate healing time between treatments.
There is a risk of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmentation) as healing reactions. If this should occur, the increased pigment usually fades away over at 2-6 month period.
Scarring is a very rare occurrence but it is a possibility. To minimize the chances of scarring, it is important that you follow the post-operation instructions carefully.
Persistence of tattoo or pigment
Some tattoo ink or pigment is located too deep in the skin to be removed completely inspite of repeated treatments. Vague spots of color may remain after treatment. There may be some ink colors that change color prior to removal and others that simply will not respond to this laser.(e.g. green tattoo).It may not be possible to completely remove all tattoo and skin pigmentation with this laser. If this situation arises, there may be other treatment alternative available.