I have a tattoo encircling my leg about an inch above my ankle that I’m getting removed. It’s been a week since I last had it zapped and as it was tender, I have avoided shaving near it.
Today I notice that besides having a two inch band of 1/8" long hair around my lower leg, the hair that is directly on the tattoo is blond/colorless while the rest is normally colored.
Now, I know that laser tattoo removal can sometimes cause hyper-pigmentation in the skin, but hair? Not only that, but I yanked one out (in the interest of science, of course) and the part that was below the skin looks like my normal brown. What is going on?
There’s been many a statement on the boards about the mechanics of laser tattoo removal. The scenario that appears most reasonable to me is as follows:
First off, the laser will almost certainly be Q-switched, meaning that the shutter speed, if you’ll allow the latitude of expression, is much shorter. With this in place, the laser medium may be exited to the highest possible state, allowing for an extremely short-lived, high-intensity burst of energy, giving you a photomechanical reaction upon exposure. Quite literally, an explosive expansion of the ink. The ink can then be eliminated by your body naturally.
Depending on the colors in your tattoo, different types of lasers will be neessary to best remove the pigmentation. From the Shore Laser Center:
Apparently, the shorter the wavelength, the more likely the chance for hyper or hypopigmentation, especially in individuals with darker skin. The meaning? Those with the more pale skin should be able to withstand the shorter wavelength of the Frequency doubled Nd:YAG laser.
That’s enough prelude.
At that short a wavelength, the radiation won’t penetrate as deeply due to scatter. The laser was apparently able to penetrate the hair that is exposed, but was unable to get to the roots, so to speak.
There’s your WAG. And, I’ll wager it’s a good one.