Laser Tattoo Removal Questions

Who can get laser treatment?
A common laser tattoo removal question! Laser treatments are safe and effective on all ink colors, and are safe for all skin types. However, darker skin types or patients who are immunocompromised may require extra care. The practitioner will consult with you and customize treatment as needed. 
How does laser removal work?
Our immune system recognizes tattoo ink as a foreign matter. However, ink particles are too large and too stubborn to be removed easily. Laser removal uses technology in which a high-powered, very short, pulsed beam of light is delivered at specific wavelength to the treatment site. The beam passes through the skin and breaks up tattoo into smaller particles. These tiny fragments are then removed, or “flushed” out by the body’s immune system.  Eventually, the tattoo fades in much the same way that a bruise fades over time.
How many treatments are required?
Most tattoos can be considerably diminished, and many can be completely removed. Most patients need between 3 and 12 treatments in order to achieve desired results. However, there are many variables that may affect the number of treatments that a specific tattoo needs.
These may include:
  • Age of tattoo
  • Depth/ Density of the ink
  • Ink colors
  • Patient health
  • Location on the body
  • Pre-existing scarring
  • Blood circulation
  • Other factors

How long is a treatment session?
Generally speaking, a laser tattoo-removal session will last no longer than 30 minutes. However, we must assess your tattoo first to give you a better estimate of time. 
After your first treatment session, we will have a much better idea as to how long your individual sessions will last. Also, you will have a better understanding of what your pain tolerance is, much of which will be dictated by the location of your tattoo. We’re also happy to answer any other laser removal questions in person.

Can removal be done on a large tattoo in one session?
Generally speaking, the maximum area to treat in one day is around the size of a sheet of paper. Also, if the tattoo wraps around an appendage thicker than the width of a watch band, we want to break that into two sections. We want the client to be able to bandage the area easily, and we don’t want to disrupt the natural blood flow and circulation of the area being treated.
Is the procedure painful?
There is some discomfort associated with the procedure. Some patients have described it as a rubber band being constantly snapped at the skin. However, we all experience pain differently and tolerance is a variable factor. Some patients may also ask if numbing solutions are available to maximize patient comfort. 
What are some common side effects?
An immune response on the patient is necessary to ensure the flushing of the ink away from the treated area. (I.E temporary redness, swelling, tenderness, blisters, and scabs.) These side effects ensure that we have completed a successful treatment. Patients with darker skin tones may also experience temporary discoloration of the skin around the treated area. There is also an immediate whitening of the treated area, which may last anywhere from several hours within the treatment, to several days after. Within 12-72 hours, your skin will likely scab or crust, and this can last for one to two weeks or more. Your practitioner will discuss possible side-effects with you, and provide you with pre- and post-treatment care instructions before scheduling your laser tattoo-removal appointment.
Can lasers cause skin cancer?
No! Although lasers are high powered, the wavelength caused by the laser is not short enough to cause permanent damages. However, skin is increasingly sensitive to sunlight after treated for tattoo removal. It is extremely important to use extra precautions while the treated skin heals from laser tattoo removal. Wear sunscreen daily and, if possible, cover the skin with clothes to add an additional shield. Sunburns and sun damage can cause scarring in treated areas.
How soon after the first treatment can I schedule another appointment?
Ideally, treatments will be scheduled from 4-8 weeks apart to allow your body’s lymphatic system to flush out the dissolved pigment particles. The technician will be able to give you a more precise estimate during the consultation. 
What are some preparations I can take before my treatment?
ICE, ICE, ICE!!!! We highly recommend icing the area before and after treatment to ease the harshness of the side effects, such as burning and swelling. We also recommend taking an over-the-counter, non-aspirin product to ease some of the pain. DO NOT take products containing aspirin, as they can increase the risk of bruising and/ or bleeding. 
Do not tan or expose unprotected skin to the sun for 2-4 weeks prior (including spray tanning). Avoid harsh irritants or products, and please remove all makeup, lotion, and deodorant on the tattoo area.
What are some measurements I can make after treatment to help further the healing process?
We recommend applying an ice pack or cold compress over the gauze bandage several times a day to help reduce bruising and swelling. It is also important to exercise and increase blood circulation so that the immune system may carry the ink particles out faster.
Any further aftercare instructions will be provided to you by your practitioner. We’re also happy to answer any other laser tattoo removal questions in person.