Tattoos are a forever commitment. While it may have seemed like a good idea at one point, if you no longer want your tattoo on your body, laser tattoo removal is the best way to get rid of it. But before you commit to the procedure, there’s plenty to know about laser tattoo removal, like how it works and what to expect.
Laser tattoo removal harnesses the power of a laser, which emits concentrated light to break up the pigments in the tattoo’s ink. It’s the most advanced method for getting rid of unwanted tattoos. No matter where on your body your tattoo is, laser tattoo removal can erase it from the skin.
We did the work for you so that everything you need to know about the commonly performed procedure used to remove tattoos permanently.
The results are not immediate and take months, if not longer, to surface.
If you expect to erase your tattoo after a session of two, be prepared for it to take longer. Tattoos don’t lift quite that quickly, even with laser tattoo removal. Depending on the size, colors, and age of the tattoo, it can take up to 12 sessions and 12 months for the tattoo to fully fade from the skin.
You’ll need to space out each session by a few months, which adds time to the overall removal process. Giving your body ample time between sessions allows it to break down the tattoo as much as possible. With each session, the laser reaches down into the dermis to break down the pigment in the tattoo into tiny particles, which the immune system flushes out of the body. The break in time also allows the body to heal before the next session. And it reduces the risk of scarring, too
However, laser tattoo removal can remove all types of tattoo ink, no matter the color. It was one thought that lighter pigments were harder to remove, but today’s laser tattoo removal devices can remove all colors from all skin tones.
You must protect your skin before, during, and after the sessions.
The sun can damage the skin, complicate laser tattoo removal, and compromise your results. You’ll want to apply plenty of sunscreen to the tattoo before you start tattoo removal. Zinc oxide sunscreen is best. People don’t get their tattoos removed with a laser because they expose them to too much sun. UV radiation increases melanin production, leading to scarring and making it difficult for the laser to work effectively. The same rule of thumb applies to tanning beds, too.
You’ll need to take good care of your tattoo during and after the sessions. A barrier cream, like Aquaphor, and plenty of large bandages are vital because you don’t want the treated area to rub up against your clothes. Also, be mindful of certain topical skincare products used on the tattoo and around it since some can cause photosensitivity, rashes, redness, swelling, or burning.
Post-treatment, it’s helpful to apply ice to the area for 24 hours to help mitigate any pain, swelling, and discomfort. You’ll also want to avoid exposing the tattoo to heat for a few weeks after each laser session—spas, saunas, and hot baths fall under this. If blisters form, leave them be and don’t pop or squeeze them. They will eventually heal on their own. Also, if you are given special creams or ointments to apply over the tattoo, use them to help with healing.
The treatments won't damage your skin.
Just because you opt for laser tattoo removal doesn’t mean you will compromise the health and integrity of your skin. Yes, laser tattoo removal lifts away unwanted tattoos, but it does so while protecting the skin. Older tattoo removal methods were more problematic than the machines used today. Modern-day laser tattoo removal works underneath the top layers of skin and sends pulses of energy deep into the skin to break up the pigment particles. All this happens while keeping the skin tissue intact. But unlike other laser devices, laser tattoo removal doesn’t improve the quality of the skin either. For that, you’ll need a completely separate device and treatment plan.