Laser tattoo removal doesn’t come cheap. But it’s a dependable solution if you want to make certain that you erase a bad decision inked on your skin. If you’re already considering this treatment, concerns are usually focused on what will come out of the treatment.
To help you make an informed decision and finally get on board, here’s what you can expect after a laser treatment.
Speed of Removal
The Kirby-Desai tool is used to estimate the number of treatments a tattoo will need for removal. This scale considers the following factors that affect the rate of removal:
- Fitzpatrick skin type
- Ink colors
- Tattoo layering (usually seen in a cover-up job)
- Location in the body
- Amount of ink
- Pre-existing scarring
Your health can also affect the speed of tattoo removal. If you are young, physically fit, and a strong immune system, you may see results faster than older and obese patients with health problems.
Each person’s ability to clear a tattoo is based on the condition of one’s immune system. You must keep yourself healthy and avoid habits like smoking to boost your immune response to aid in the process of pigment elimination and skin repair. Exercise, adequate water consumption and a regular massage to the area once it is healed are helpful aftercare measures to move things along.
The device used is also a critical factor that determines that speed of removal. At The Aesthetics Centre, we use the PicoWay device for its ability to treat multicolored tattoos on different skin types. It shatters the ink into minute particles which can be easily eliminated by the body’s natural processes.
The laser tattoo removal itself may not be uncomfortable, especially with PicoWay, but pain is a normal response during recovery. The targeted areas will feel tender and sensitive to touch due to swelling and blistering thereafter. Once these side effects subside over the next few days, so does the pain.
If there is increasing discomfort on the area days after your session, this may signal an infection. Report this immediately so that antibiotic treatment can be prescribed and avert potential scarring.
While pain and discomfort may be present after treatment, it can be managed by a topical or injectable anaesthetic. Generally, there is little to no downtime. You can even return to your usual activities shortly after treatment. The area will be bandaged to keep it dry for a few days following the treatment.
Concerns on whether a laser tattoo removal can remove the ink entirely are among the first questions asked. Once an ink job is erased with laser, it’s gone forever. So, if you regret your ink, then a laser treatment is a worthwhile investment.
Total tattoo clearance will typically require several sessions. Devices available today come in different wavelengths of laser light to target a spectrum of colors. Laser sends light energy that is selectively absorbed by the ink particles shattering them into minute fragments. Once the laser breaks down the ink, your immune system steps up to remove the particles from your system in the following weeks.
Eventually, you will notice your tattoo lightening in appearance, and it will continue to do so with every session until any pigmentation from the ink is no longer visible.
PicoWay is strapped with the laser technology with the capacity to clear notoriously stubborn tattoo pigments. The system delivers ultra-short pulse duration which creates an intense photomechanical impact even with half the energy. This device can boldly destroy ink particles for a thorough tattoo clearance with fewer treatments.
Side effects are an expected part of laser tattoo removal. In fact, some of these are an important part of your immune response that helps eliminate the ink from the skin.
Common side effects include:
All these side effects are temporary if all other protocols based on your tattoo and skin tone are followed.
Immediately after treatment, you will notice frosting on the area where the laser came in contact with the ink. It is caused by the rapid local heating of skin pigment releasing carbon dioxide on the surface of the skin which resembles white frosting. This signals the first stage of healing and it lasts for only a few minutes. More frosting occurs with dark ink compared to lighter ink. This is accompanied by swelling around the treated area.
Redness, tenderness and swelling usually subside a day or two after treatment. Blisters start forming within 24 hours after treatment and they may appear alarming, but these indicate that your body is healing as it should. Avoid picking on your blisters because they will drain on their own and dry into scabs. The crust will eventually fall off within 10-14 days after treatment granted that the area doesn’t get irritated.
Pigmentation changes on the targeted areas occur when the body’s melanin production is thrown off balance after a laser treatment. Hyperpigmentation results when your body overproduces melanin in response to the laser therapy. In hypopigmentation, the targeted portions appear bleached as melanin gets depleted by the laser treatment. Typically, hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are temporary, and they resolve with time.
…side effects are temporary if all other protocols based on your tattoo and skin tone are followed.
Individuals with darker skin tones have a high risk for pigmentation changes, therefore sun exposure must be avoided weeks following each session. It’s also necessary that you follow aftercare instructions to prevent complications from these side effects.
In some patients, scarring occurs on the treated areas. However, what most people don’t know is that some of the scars that remain after laser tattoo removal is a result of the original ink application by the tattoo artist. This is common especially in patients who have a history of keloids and are predisposed to scarring.
When the laser treats the skin, it targets and breaks down the ink. If there is pre-existent scarring, it will remain even after the pigment is eliminated with treatment. Therefore, proper assessment and documentation is done during your initial consultation to note any present scarring prior to laser treatment.
Scarring may also result with improper treatment. For example, excessive fluence used in tattoo removal can cause scarring.
…some of the scars that remain after laser tattoo removal is a result from when the ink was originally applied by the tattoo artist.
Poor aftercare can also increase the likelihood of scarring. Blisters and scabs are common side effects, but if you fail to protect blistered skin and pick on scabs scarring may also occur. Remember that you also have an important role for the outcome of your laser tattoo removal.
Basic Reminders for Tattoo Removal Aftercare
- Use sunscreen to protect the treated skin which is particularly sensitive to sunlight following treatment.
- Don’t apply makeup or any potentially irritating product on treated skin while it heals.
- Avoid shaving treated areas unless the skin is healed.
- Don’t soak in baths, hot tubs or pools unless the skin has healed completely.
While some effects of the treatment are expected reactions from the laser, some rely on external factors. The laser used, your health in general, the type of tattoo you have, and the quality of aftercare measures can affect the results you get. Therefore, you need a service provider who can individualise your treatment process.
If you have more questions about laser tattoo removal, you can book a consultation at The Aesthetics Centre today. Drop by for an in-person assessment and a customised treatment plan!