Tattoo removal is most commonly performed using lasers that react with the ink in the tattoo, and break it down. The broken-down ink is then absorbed by the body, mimicking the natural fading that time or sun exposure would create.
All Tattoo pigments have specific light absorption spectra. A tattoo laser must be capable of emitting adequate energy within the given absorption spectrum of the pigment in order to provide an effective treatment. Certain tattoo pigments, such as yellows, greens and fluorescent inks are more challenging to treat than the darker blacks and blues.
These pigments are more challenging to treat because they have absorption spectra that fall outside or on the edge of the emission spectra available in the respective tattoo removal laser.
Widely considered the gold standard treatment modality to remove a tattoo, laser tattoo removal requires repeat visits to remove a tattoo.
A brand of ink, InfinitInk, was developed to enable easier tattoo removal with a single laser treatment. The newer Q-switched lasers are said by the National Institutes of Health to result in scarring only rarely, however, and are usually used only after a topical anesthetic has been applied. Areas with thin skin will be more likely to scar than thicker-skinned areas.
There are several types of Q-switched lasers, and each is effective at removing a different range of the color spectrum. Lasers developed after 2006 provide multiple wavelengths and can successfully treat a much broader range of tattoo pigments than previous Q-switched lasers.