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How does laser tattoo removal work?

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Have you ever regretted that tattoo you got in your teenage years? Maybe it's a faded symbol of an old flame or an inked design that no longer suits your style. Whatever the reason, you're not alone in wanting to bid farewell to an unwanted tattoo. But how does laser tattoo removal work, and what can you expect from the process?

In this article, we'll shed light on the science behind laser tattoo removal, making it easy to understand and helping you make an informed decision about reclaiming your skin.

What is laser tattoo removal and how does it work?

Laser tattoo removal is a medical procedure that utilises lasers to break up the pigment colours of a tattoo. It works by sending laser beams of light through the skin, which are absorbed by the tattoo’s ink particles and broken down into smaller pieces. These fragments can then be eliminated more easily by your body’s natural healing process.

The type of laser used for tattoo removal depends on the colours used in your ink. Different types of lasers are designed to target different ranges of the colour spectrum, so you’ll need to speak with your dermatologist about which is best suited for your case.

 

before and after laser tattoo removal

 

Process of a laser tattoo removal procedure

  1. Before the tattoo removal process, you'll have a consultation with a trained physician who will assess your tattoo, gather information about it, and evaluate your skin. They'll ask questions about the tattoo's history, such as when you got it, any previous removal attempts, and whether it was done by a professional or an amateur. Your provider will also measure the tattoo's size and may take a photo to track progress.
  2. Based on the type and colour of ink in your tattoo and the depth of the pigment in your skin, your provider will create a customised treatment plan to achieve the best results.
  3. During the procedure, you'll be given protective eye shields to shield your eyes from the laser light.
  4. A test pulse will be used to assess your skin's reaction to the laser and determine the appropriate energy level for the treatment.
  5. Laser treatments involve applying a handheld device to the tattooed area and activating the laser light in pulses. The laser light breaks down the tattoo pigment. Smaller tattoos may require fewer pulses, while larger ones may need more. Multiple treatment sessions are usually necessary, and after each session, you'll notice the tattoo getting lighter.
  6. After each session, your healthcare provider will provide you with instructions on how to care for your skin. This typically involves keeping the treated area clean and following any specific post-treatment care guidelines. To enhance the healing process, consider using our specialised Laser Aftercare. This product is designed to soothe and protect your skin, ensuring optimal recovery.
  7. Laser tattoo removal is typically not a one-time procedure. You'll need multiple sessions spaced several weeks apart to achieve the desired results. Your provider will schedule follow-up visits to track your progress and adjust the treatment as needed.

How many laser tattoo removal sessions will you need?

In general, it typically takes 6-10 treatments to remove or significantly fade a tattoo, but the exact number can vary greatly depending on these factors. A consultation with a tattoo removal specialist can provide a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

Amount of ink

Tattoos with a substantial amount of tattoo ink, particularly those with dense and dark pigments, often require more sessions. The laser needs to break down a larger volume of ink particles, and it may take additional treatments to fully remove or fade the tattoo.

Age of tattoo

The age of the tattoo can impact the removal process. Older tattoos have had more time to fade naturally, which may make them somewhat easier to remove compared to newer, fresher tattoos.

Skin tone

Skin tone plays a role in tattoo removal. Lighter skin types often see quicker results because the contrast between the tattoo ink and the skin is more pronounced. Darker skin may require more sessions to avoid potential side effects like hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.

Health

Your overall health and lifestyle can affect tattoo removal. Unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking can slow down the body's ability to eliminate ink particles. Conversely, a healthy lifestyle with good circulation and a well-functioning immune system can potentially lead to faster results.

 

patient undergoing a laser tattoo removal

 

Tattoo location

The location of the tattoo on your body can impact the number of sessions needed. Tattoos on areas with better blood circulation, like the torso, may fade more quickly than on extremities like hands and feet, where circulation is lower.

Professional or amateur tattoos

Professional tattoos are more challenging to remove because the ink is often placed deeper into the dermis, the skin's deeper layer. Amateur or homemade tattoos may require fewer treatments since the ink is closer to the skin's surface.

Tattoo colour

The colour of the tattoo ink also matters. Black ink is the easiest to remove because it absorbs all laser wavelengths. Red and warmer tones are next in line, while blues and greens can be more resistant. Specialised lasers are used for different colours.

Layering of tattoos

If you have multiple tattoos layered on top of each other, it complicates the removal process. Each layer needs separate treatment sessions, potentially requiring more treatments to address all the ink.

Does laser tattoo removal hurt?

Tattoo removal methods can be an uncomfortable experience, and the level of pain or discomfort can vary from person to person. Some describe the sensation as like a rubber band snapping against the skin or feeling like tiny bursts of heat. The pain can be influenced by factors such as the size and location of the tattoo, individual pain tolerance, the method of removal chosen, and whether anaesthesia or numbing creams are used.

While laser removal isn't typically described as pleasant, it's usually a bearable discomfort that lasts only for the duration of the procedure. Many individuals find the results and the prospect of having a tattoo-free canvas worth the temporary discomfort. It's essential to communicate your pain tolerance and concerns with your tattoo removal specialist to ensure a more comfortable experience.

 

patient undergoing a professional laser tattoo removal

 

Can lasers remove tattoos completely?

Laser tattoo removal is the most effective and safe method for removing or lightening tattoos compared to other tattoo removal methods. It can completely remove some tattoos, while others may require multiple treatments to achieve significant fading. If a complete removal isn't possible, laser treatment can still make a noticeable difference in dark pigment, allowing for successful cover-up tattoos.

Find a reputable doctor now

Laser tattoo removal is like a magic eraser for unwanted tattoos. Using precise beams of light, it breaks down the tattoo ink, allowing our body to naturally clean up the particles. If you're considering saying goodbye to an old tattoo, it's crucial to choose a reputable doctor for the best results. And remember, just as you cared for your tattoo when it was fresh, quality aftercare products are vital for healing post-removal. Ready for a change? Consult a professional now.

 

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  • Mark Joshua Luz
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