Tattoo pigments absorb photons at the surface, blocking full transmission of the laser emission, and creating a heat sensation. Different pigments absorb differently, some creating greater heat. Warmth has soothing effects, but seek the more powerful effects of deeper laser penetration.
When treating over tattoos, treat cautiously – thermal skin damage is possible. To safely and comfortably treat the deeper tissues beneath the tattoo, move the applied lens to minimize thermal accumulation and repeatedly move over the area. Go as slowly as is comfortable for the patient. “Warmth” is fine, “heat” is risky. If there is another nearby area to treat, returning to continue treatment of the tattooed area, or a short break in the treatment time, a “cool off” period of a minute or more will also allow better advantage of the laser capability.
Caution and alerting the patient to give feedback are key factors, but tattooed areas can be safely and effectively treated.