A few more Answers to some of our Frequently asked Laser Removal Questions

What does the laser do?

The laser can fade or fully remove your tattoo but it is going to require multiple sessions; plan for at least ten sessions. Tattoos are meant to be permanent so complete removal of some tattoos may not be possible; some refusing to fade beyond a certain point. Unfortunately it is not possible to gauge whether full removal of your tattoo will be possible. You are, however, going to require perseverance and patience.

How does the laser remove a tattoo?

The laser breaks up the ink particles in your tattoo, the energy from the laser is absorbed by the ink particles and it is this energy and the shockwave that causes the ink to shatter. Think of it like crumbling a sugar cube into individual granules. Your body’s immune system responds by moving to that area and starting to remove the smaller ink particles and ultimately your tattoo.

Is laser removal safe?

Laser technology has advanced so much and is designed to break down tattoo ink without harming the surrounding tissue. It is important that you properly care for your skin after each laser treatment. For the majority of people laser removal is safe; but anyone with long-term health issues or with an immune deficiency should seek medical advice before commencing with tattoo removal. As tattoo removal can put additional pressure on your immune system it is advisable to stop treatment during pregnancy.

Why does it require multiple treatment sessions?

The ink particles sit in the dermas layer of the skin in varying density. This means where there is a thicker concentration of ink particles they are very unlikely to be broken down completely after one session. This is why your tattoo is unlikely to fade evenly during the removal process and requires multiple sessions.

How many treatments sessions will I require

The number of treatments is going to vary for each person, but there is also a lot of other variables that have to be taken into consideration which include but are not exhaustive to:-

  • The size of your tattoo
  • How old your tattoo is.
  • What ink was used, as there are literally thousands of different makes of tattoo ink available on the market.
  • The quality of the ink used; not all tattoo ink is of the same quality. Some of the cheaper inks have been found to contain lead, plastic plus other products you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in tattoo ink.
  • How deep the artist placed the tattoo, amateur tattooists for example tend to go either too deep or not deep enough which works either in favour or not for successful removal. Whilst your experienced professional tattooist is more likely to place the ink evenly in the dermis.
  • The colours of ink used in the tattoo, some colours cannot yet successfully be removed especially greens and yellows.
  • The location of the tattoo, hands for example are particularly difficult.

Professional tattoos usually require between 6 -15+ treatments, while Amateur tattoos usually require 5 – 8+ treatments. However this is just a guide as there is no guarantee how many sessions will be required and some tattoos can need significantly more.

How often can I have a treatment?

Treatments should be spaced a minimum of 6 – 8 weeks apart. Whilst your skin will have visibly healed long before your next treatment, your immune system will still be working hard to remove the shattered ink particles. There is a system called R20 which involves having 4 passes of the laser in one session with a 20 minute interval between passes; this is not however suitable for all skin types and you will need to wait twelve weeks between sessions.

Can all colours of tattoos be removed?

Unfortunately not all colours can be removed black and red is the easiest. Green and yellow are not going to be successfully removed, which means that colours on these spectrums are also going to struggle. Orange, pink, purple, brown, light blue and teal/ turquoise are difficult colours and may require additional treatments.

Do tattoo removal creams or injections work?

Whilst there are several creams available on the market, which may lighten, your tattoo and the surrounding skin slightly. To use a cream that is able to reach the dermis where the ink sits will contain very strong chemicals.

Tattooing removal products into the skin should also be avoided and especially over larger areas, as they require numerous sittings; tattooing repeatedly over the same area of skin which is more likely to cause scarring.   It is worth considering the chemicals that are being used that have the ability to fade/remove ink from the skin; along with a risk of chemical burns.

What are the side effects of tattoo removal?

Most people will experience either some localized redness, swelling, bruising and some minor blistering of the skin after a treatment.  However any skin irritation is temporary; lasting usually about ten days although healing can vary person to person and throughout the treatment. The more that your ink fades the less painful it will be.

Hyper-pigmentation (the darkening of the skin) or Hypo-pigmentation (the loss of skin colour) can sometimes occur but is usually minor and temporary although for a minority group could be permanent.

Will the laser procedure scar my skin?

This is a question that people new to tattoo removal will ask, with the majority of people convinced that laser removal causes scarring. Laser technology has changed and whilst there is some risk, as with any procedure on your skin, it is minimal. The risk of scarring is less than 5% and is usually limited to a small portion of the treated area. It is essential that you carefully look after your newly lasered skin.

Is the laser tattoo removal process painful?

The laser emits short flashes of light called pulses, it is this pulse that is felt. The feeling of each short pulse has been described as feeling either like a rubber band snapping on the skin, or hot fat jumping out of the frying pan and onto your skin. You can apply a topical numbing cream, which can help to numb the area; most numbing creams will need to be applied a least an hour before your appointment. Laser removal is much quicker than tattooing, and breaks can be taken at any point. If the laser hits the skin where there is no ink you won’t feel this so don’t worry if you jump.

How soon after being lasered before I can have a tattoo?

You want to leave at least 8 weeks from your last session before you have this area tattooed. This is to allow your skin to fully heal, tattooing on damaged skin can be more painful, or bleed more. This is because your capillaries are filled with blood as part of the healing process; hence the reason you are more likely to bleed which could result in a patchy healed tattoo.