Why don’t some tattoos respond to laser treatment? Unfortunately, not even the best laser on the planet, the PicoSure, can remove all tattoos. The primary reason for this is that the ink, or one of its components, usually a metal or metal derivative, responds negatively or not at all. For example, white inks contain large amounts of titanium dioxide which is a highly reflective white metal oxide. Titanium dioxide has an extremely high refractive index which is why it is used in the majority of sunscreens. Additionally, because of its pure white coloration, titanium dioxide is also used as an additive in many cosmetic and food pigments. Regrettably, when a tattoo pigment of titanium dioxide is struck with a laser beam it may cause laser-induced reduction of the metallic compounds resulting in a permanent darkening of the ink. And it’s not just white ink that’s affected because white titanium pigment is added to numerous colors in order to lighten them or increase their brilliance. In other words, almost any pigment has the potential to turn darker when treated with any laser, including the PicoSure laser. Interestingly, other metals have also been found in tattoo inks, including mercury, iron oxide and chromium. In summary, not all tattoos can be removed with laser treatment and those that can may require numerous treatments due to the resilience of some inks, especially those containing metals.
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