Like a laser tattoo removal method, an infrared coagulator (IRC) uses light to attack the ink pigment lying inert in the dermis. However, an IRC is not a laser as it uses infrared light to heat the tissue that holds the pigment. A laser attacks the pigment directly by matching the laser wavelength with that of the ink color. Because it uses infrared light, the incidence of collateral tissue damage using an IRC is likely to be higher than that of a true laser.
The treatment procedure is similar to that of lasers. The area to be treated is cleaned and a topical anesthetic is applied to numb the skin. Very short pulses of infrared light are shot at the tattoo. A grid-like approach is used to target the tattoo with untreated spaces left between treated spaces.
After treatment a scab will form and eventually fall off. With the scab some of the ink will be removed. At least three treatments are necessary for small tattoos.
The advantage of IRC treatment is that it attacks all ink colors. It usually requires fewer visits than laser treatment as well. IRC treatment should be cheaper than laser treatment because the equipment costs much less. But there are also downsides to keep in mind. The chance of scarring using an IRC is higher than that of laser treatment, depending on whom you talk to. This is because of the heating of the surrounding tissue rather than just the ink during treatment.
Cost: Several hundred dollars per visit. Three visits are likely to cost up to $ 1,500.
Time: One-month intervals for healing between visits. Three visits, or three months for a small tattoo.
Pain: Similar to laser treatment.
Pros: Possibly cheaper than laser and faster as well.
Cons: Higher risk of scarring.
Effectiveness: Can be effective for total removal.
Where: Any qualified clinic or dermatologist’s office.