Contributing Factors & Side Effects
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “how many sessions do I need?” I’d have a sh*t load of dollars! If there was a uniform answer to this question I wouldn’t mind it being asked so much..... actually no wait, I lied - I probably would still mind....
Some people achieve complete removal in 4 treatments while others are in for the long haul and need 10+ treatments. The reason for this? Well, not only is everyone different but their tattoos are also very different therefore - cue long list of factors that contribute to tattoo removal efficacy:
Fitzpatrick skin type: Results of a black tattoo on skin type 1 will dramatically differ from results of a lighter coloured tattoo on skin type 4, the laser is drawn to darker pigments.
Tattoo layering: If the tattoo is a cover up or required extensive touch ups this creates multiple layers of ink and potentially layers of scar tissue to go with it.
Location on the body: The further away from the heart the weaker blood circulation which in turn effects how well the ink is extracted from the area.
Ink colours: More colours means more lasering techniques needed to fade each colour. Also, sometimes tattooists mix ink colours which may not be detected until after the first treatment.
Brand of ink: Different brands means different levels of quality and therefore different levels of ease to remove.
Country tattooed in: Some countries use brands of ink which are super stubborn.
Pre-existing scarring: If you got tattooed over existing scarring a less aggressive approach may need to be taken to not agitate and/or worsen that scarring.
Scar tissue from getting tattooed: If during the healing process of getting tattooed (or lasered elsewhere) you’ve developed scar tissue in the Epidermis this can hinder the laser getting through to the ink.
After care procedure: Having a good aftercare routine is super important to keep your skin healthy and at its best.
General health of client: Your body is the main player in removing the ink from your skin, therefore the healthier you are the better its going to get rid of the ink!
Are there side effects involved with Laser Tattoo Removal?
Yes there are, but if all of the proper protocols are followed based on the tattoo and the clients skin, all side effects are temporary.
The most common temporary side effects are:
Redness, tenderness, and swelling typically subside within a day or two following treatment.
Blisters usually appear within 24 hours of treatment; sometimes the blisters are very large and may look alarming – this is completely normal. Scabs, bruising, and blistering may take up to a week or longer to heal.
Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation occur when the body's production of melanin is skewed after a laser treatment. With hyperpigmentation, the body overproduces melanin in reaction to the laser treatment, so skin in the treated area is darker than the natural skin tone. With hypopigmentation, the melanin is depleted by the laser treatment and the skin appears bleached. Both hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are typically temporary and resolve naturally with time.
What is frosting!? Rapid, localised heating of skin pigment causes gas or plasma to form, carbon dioxide is released as a result and surfaces on the upper layer of the skin, this causes the white frosting you sometimes see during and after laser treatment.
Clients are generally more concerned about permanent side effects rather than temporary ones; the side effects that could become permanent are scarring or pigmentation changes which as previously mentioned are completely avoidable if the proper protocols are followed and good aftercare is implemented.
Aftercare is discussed during consultations, our aftercare information is posted on our FAQ page and is also given to our clients in the form of a take-home sheet incase any questions or concerns arise.
Ok so as you can see there’s a lot to think about before starting to remove a tattoo. One more thing to add into the mix and surprisingly isn’t a question we are commonly asked is...
How long will it take to remove my Tattoo?
This is another question that can be tricky to answer because of the previously mentioned factors. To be brutally honest, it's not uncommon for the body to take around a year to completely eliminate a tattoo. Why so long you ask?
To allow the skin enough time to adequately heal between treatments and the body's immune system to flush away the ink we initially recommend a minimum of 6 weeks between laser treatments (area treated dependent). Throughout your treatment plan this can increase up to 12 weeks due to the significant increase in laser energy pulsed into the skin. Not allowing the skin enough time to heal between treatments can cause damage and permanent side effects!