In the 21st Century, the number of people getting tattoos has drastically risen, and so is the rate of those asking for tattoo removal. There are several tattoo removal methods available, but laser treatment is the most common one.
You might want to remove your tattoo for several reasons. It might be a change of jobs, wishing to get another tattoo over it or maybe because you regret your decision.
Whatever the case, laser tattoo removal is the safest and most effective way you can erase a tat. It is also the most expensive method available.
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work
To understand the process better, you will need to first know the tattooing process.
Tattooing is the art of depositing ink in the dermis layer of the skin. Ink cannot be deposited in the epidermis as it fades faster because of this skin layer’s regeneration. The subcutaneous layer is too deep, and the body might absorb the ink.
Natural tattoo fading occurs when the immune system tries to break down the ink. Once you get a tat, it triggers the immune response with the white blood cells being sent to the area to fight the ink which is recognized as a foreign substance. The white blood cells break the ink but at a slow pace, which is why fading occurs over several years.
Laser tattoo removal speeds this process up. It entails passing a high beam of light on the area to break the ink up. Instead of ink fading over a number of years, it does so over several sessions. But how does laser tattoo removal work?
Laser Tattoo Removal Process
- In the tattoo removal studio, you will receive a pair of protective eye shields.
- The specialist will then determine the level of intensity of the beam to be used depending on your skin’s reaction to it.
- The technician will then move to the tattoo to determine the number of sessions you will require. The number of sessions depends on the following ;
- The colors of the tattoo. Black and blue colors require fewer sessions to get rid of, unlike other colors. This is because black and blue absorb lighter faster and better than other colors making them easier to remove.
- The ink’s location and size. A small size tattoo is easy to remove and only requires a few sessions compared to a large one. Location the ink was deposited will determine how easy it will be to remove. Ink in the epidermis is fast to remove and requires little to no laser sessions.
- The density of the ink. Bold tattoos take longer to remove as there is a huge deposition of ink compared to shaded ones.
- Age of the tattoo. A tattoo that you have had for longer will require a few laser sessions because it has already begun fading. New tattoos are the hardest to remove.
During the session, the high-intensity beam of light is passed over the tattoo to break it faster. The heat from the beam will make the ink components to expand.
However, the beam needs to pass over the area fast enough to heat one half of an ink particle, with the other half remaining cool to cause it to break. The broken pieces become small enough to be absorbed by the white blood cells and finally eliminated.
Laser Tattoo Removal Aftercare
Similar to tattooing, tattoo removal has an aftercare routine to get your skin back to normal.
The tattoo removal technician will give you an aftercare routine to follow, which includes;
- You need to keep the area clean and dry.
- You should also cover it with an antibiotic healing ointment and sterilized dressing.
Side Effects of Laser Tattoo Removal
Laser tattoo removal works best and is safe, but it can also have specific effects on your skin. The risks are as follows:
- Infection. The area facing the laser beam is at risk of infection if not well treated and cared for.
- Hypopigmentation. It is a condition where you have patches of your skin being lighter than others. The laser beam might make the area around the tattoo appear paler than the rest. This is especially risky for dark-skinned people.
- Colors from the tattoo not being fully eliminated. If you have a tattoo with many colors you might end up with some color shades not fading as well as others. This will leave the area looking ugly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How painful is laser tattoo removal?
It is quite painful. Some equate the pain to the one you feel when getting a tat, yet others believe it is more painful. Whichever the case, expect to feel some pain when getting one. However, with modern medicine, you can get anesthesia before the process starts although it will cost you a little more.
Where does the ink go after laser tattoo removal?
Once the ink has been broken down, it is absorbed into the lymphatic system and the white blood cells then discarded as either urine, sweat or stool. The white blood cells transport it to the liver, where it is broken down further before elimination.
How long does a tattoo continue to fade after laser treatment?
During the session, the area might get darker and remain so for several months. This is normal as the ink is breaking down. However, after 4-6 weeks, you should begin to notice some fading. Do not expose the skin to sunlight before the area heals.
What is the hardest tattoo color to remove?
Green is a challenging color to remove. This is because the color of beam to be used is the color the ink used reflects. For example, when you see red color, it is a green color being absorbed by the ink and reflects red.
All tattoo removal methods should only be considered if and when it is a must you get rid of the tat. This is because the methods are dangerous, expensive and quite painful. Most health insurances don’t even cover the removal costs unless it is medically requested. They view tattoo removal as a personal choice rather than a disease.