9 Things You Should Know Before Removing Your Tattoo
Do have a tattoo you regret? Wish you could erase it? Don’t despair; there’s hope. In the past, tattoos were surgically removed; shaved, scraped, and frozen off; or peeled away with chemicals. Today laser tattoo removal enables virtually any tattoo to be safely and effectively removed. From small black tattoos to large neon-colored tattoos, they don’t stand a chance when it comes to laser tattoo removal. So if you’re thinking of undergoing laser tattoo removal, you’ve made the right choice. It has numerous advantages, including the fact that it’s affordable, safe, and relatively non-invasive. What’s more, dramatic results can be seen in as little as a few sessions.
Nothing Short of Miraculous
The science behind laser tattoo removal is nothing short of miraculous. Laser tattoo removal works by targeting pigment colors in the skin’s dermis, the layer of skin between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissues. Light beams radiated by the laser are absorbed by tattoo pigments, which then fragment. The body then absorbs and eliminates the pigment fragments. The Q-switch is the most common type of laser used in tattoo removal. It produces pulses of light boasting an extremely high peak power. Several types of Q-switch lasers exist, and each one targets a different color spectrum at different wavelengths. Because Q-switch lasers are so precise and intense, tattoo pigments fragment instantly, resulting in minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.
Not Your Grandmother’s Tattoo Removal
Each tattoo is unique. This means removal techniques must be tailored to suit each individual case. In the past, tattoos could be removed by a wide variety of methods. But they were mostly barbaric; in many cases, the scars were more unsightly than the tattoo itself. People with previously treated tattoos may be good candidates for laser tattoo removal. Tattoos that have not been effectively removed by other treatments or through home remedies may respond well to laser therapy providing the prior treatments didn’t result in excessive scarring. In general, a series of laser treatments, four to eight weeks apart, is usually required to completely remove most tattoos.
When getting a tattoo removed, you want to make sure you find a reputable dermatologist or cosmetic surgery center to ensure proper treatment and care. If possible, you should get a recommendation from your family doctor for a dermatologist or skin surgery center that specializes in tattoo removal.
Think you might be a good candidate for laser tattoo removal? Then consider these nine factors before scheduling an appointment:
- Not all tattoos will disappear.
It’s important to set realistic expectations when considering tattoo removal. Start by discussing your expectations with a laser treatment expert. Some tattoos fade only partially after a series of laser tattoo removal treatments. Red, yellow, and green inks tend to be the hardest to remove, and some amateur tattoos can even take twice the number of recommended treatments to fade away.
- Older is better.
How long ago did you get your tattoo? The answer makes a difference. Older tattoos generally fade more easily with laser treatments than newer ones. For instance, a black tattoo that is ten years old may take one or two treatments less than a one-year-old black tattoo. Why? Because the body has already absorbed some of the tattoo’s pigment throughout the years, making it easier to fade.
- Body placement matters.
Where did you get your tattoo? Fading is generally slower for tattoos located farther down the arm or leg. These tattoos often require more laser treatment sessions and may demonstrate slower healing in-between sessions. Tattoos located on the back are the easiest to treat. As a rule of thumb, tattoos located closer to the heart are easiest to treat because they have good circulation and fast healing rates.
- Who did it?
Did you get an amateur tattoo? If so, they’re usually easier to remove than professional tattoos. Amateur tattoos typically have less ink deposited at varying depths, and therefore require fewer treatments. Exceptions occur when the ink is deep under the skin or there is scarring present. Professional tattoos, on the other hand, have a more even amount of ink at a consistent depth. Most of the ink is located deeper in the skin than amateur tattoos, with more ink used. Professional tattoos often include colors that are difficult to remove as well.
- Different colors mean different lasers.
No single laser can remove all tattoo colors. Different inks respond to different wavelengths. Black and dark green inks are the easiest to remove. Yellow, purple, turquoise and fluorescent inks are hardest to fade. However, newer laser technologies, such as the PicoSure (Q-switch) laser, can obliterate even the most stubborn tattoo colors through photomechanical energy. Lasers like the PicoSure “explode” the pigment without affecting the surrounding tissue. This is because the explosion gently fragments the ink, enabling tattoos to fade—and you to heal—faster.
- Your skin may change.
Tattooing itself may scar or change skin texture, an effect often hidden by the inks. If laser removal uncovers skin changes, you may be left with what looks like a “ghost” of your old tattoo. This is especially true for people who chose to tattoo over an undesirable tattoo. If you have one tattoo on top of an older one, extra laser treatments will probably be needed, and no results are guaranteed because there is likely to be a large amount of ink (ink from the new cover-up tattoo plus ink from the old tattoo).
- Sunscreen can help.
Laser treatments may darken or lighten skin pigment over and around the tattoo. Sun exposure can also cause blistering and increase the time it takes to heal. Be sure to apply sunscreen before and after laser tattoo removal to minimize changes in your skin pigment. For similar reasons, you should wait for your tan to fade before having a tattoo removed. Make sure to wear a sunscreen or sunblock with SPF of 30 or higher that contains zinc or titanium dioxide to fully block out harmful UVA and UVB rays.
- Some tattoos may suffer a darkening effect.
Certain cosmetic tattoos, such as pink, white and flesh-colored lip lines, may darken immediately with laser tattoo removal. This effect can usually be corrected with further treatment. In most people, this increased pigmentation only lasts a relatively short time before it disappears—usually three to four months. Hyperpigmentation is more likely to happen in people who tan easily. If immediate skin darkening is a concern, the laser should be tested on a small spot first.
- Are you allergic?
If you experienced an allergic reaction while getting your tattoo done, such as intense itching and swelling, make sure to tell your doctor prior to undergoing laser tattoo removal. Using a Q-switched laser to remove the tattoo may trigger a more serious allergic reaction. Although side effects with laser tattoo removal are rare, they can still happen. Common side effects include infection at the tattoo removal site, incomplete pigment removal, hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, and scarring. Darker-skinned patients may also have a higher risk of experiencing post-procedural complications such as keloid scarring.
Even though laser tattoo removal is a highly advanced, safe and effective procedure, you should still consider mitigating factors before deciding to get a tattoo removed. Make sure to schedule a detailed consultation with a reputable medical practitioner—and be prepared to disclose your medical history—before agreeing to undergo any cosmetic procedure. And if you’re looking for a premier laser tattoo removal service, look no further than your local LaserAway. All of our staff is highly trained, experienced, and certified in administering laser and other dermatological procedures. We only use cutting-edge laser technology and techniques. Our goal is to make your experience with us comfortable and enjoyable. If you would like to set up a free, no-obligation consultation, please email us at LaserAway.com or call us at (888) 965-2737.