Laser tattoo removal – How it works, the pros and cons

Laser Tattoo Removal

Laser tattoo removal is one of our key services we offer at vivid ink. Many people come to us for Lightening of a previous tattoo for a cover up or wanting to completely getting rid of a tattoo, we get loads of questions about this and hopefully this post should give you some insights into the process and what you can expect.

Laser tattoo removal has become increasing popular over the last 5 years and this is because the technology in this field has rapidly advanced.  In addition many people now understand how creative and artistic tattoos can be so often people who maybe had tattoos completed in days gone by when the technology and skill in tattooing were not so high are now looking at their tattoos and comparing it to current level of tattooing and are thinking I would prefer my tattoos to be of that standard. In addition laser removal has become much more easily accessible and the results so much better, People who maybe only ever stepped foot into a tattoo studio once and left with a piece they didn’t like or fell out of love it are now re-entering with goal to get rid of that piece altogether and back to fresh skin. Either way if your looking for lightening a tattoo to open your options for a cover up or complete removal we offer both services at vivid ink so you’re in safe hands. Now into the process itself.

A quick bit of background tattoos are tiny needles implanting ink into the dermis layer of skin which is beneath the outer layer of skin the epidermis, only the outer layer regenerates new skin so the dermis layer continues to hold the tattoo which is why they are permeant, now what a laser machine does is send high levels of energy into the tattoo pigment in an attempt to break up the ink into smaller parts, the particles absorb the heat generated from the laser forcing them to shatter into smaller pieces, in the days and weeks following the session those smaller particles which have been broken up are processed by the white blood cells, which are part of your body’s natural healing mechanism passed through the lymph system, processed in the liver and, eventually, flushed out of the system altogether.  This cause some of the ink to disperse but doesn’t get rid of the whole piece, which is why multiple sessions are needed to continue to break up the remaining ink.

The unfortunate part is laser tattoo removal is unlike tattooing where we pretty much know the exact way your body will react and heal, with laser removal it really does depend, there are many variables including

How deep the original tattoo went, how old it is, what ink was used, how effective your body is at flushing the broke particles down plus a whole host of other variables, this is why its really hard to say exactly how many sessions a tattoo will take to remove and will be much easier to give an idea once a session has been completed and you can see how your body responds.

Ok so a few frequently asked questions in regards to laser removal.

How often can you have a session?

The body’s healing mechanism is somewhere around 6-8 weeks, this is to give the body time for the ink break down and flushing of broken particles to happen but also make sure that the top layer of skin doesn’t get damaged.

Does it cause scarring?

The only way it can cause scarring Is by completing sessions to regularly or using too much power on the laser machine and causing damage to the skin, this should be incredibly rare however as anybody operating a laser machine should really know what they are doing and understand the risks, one thing to note is that if the tattoo was scarred during the tattoo process (which can happen if the original artist went too deep) then when you remove the ink from that area it will expose the scar that was caused by the tattoo, so it can look like the laser caused it but in reality it only really uncovered it.

Does it cause pigmentation on darker skin tones?

This is a tough one there are some examples of the laser not being able to differentiate between the tattoo pigment and skin pigment but this, as with everything in laser isn’t exact science but you would be able to spot this happening during the progress between sessions and decide if it’s something you wish to continue with.

How painful is it?

Well that varies between individuals and pain tolerances, some people say it’s similar to snapping an elastic band against you, some say its worse than tattooing other say better, the one key thing however is its much quicker than tattooing, meaning what would maybe take 2 hours as a tattoo can be removed in 10 minutes.

How long after laser until I can cover the tattoo?

We would advise 6-8 weeks post laser removal until the tattoo appointment, this just gives your body adequate time to heal and make sure the area will take the tattoo well. If it’s been a really heavy laser session it may be slightly longer, but your artist will be able to advise best on this.

How many sessions for full removal and Is full removal always possible?

Unfortunately for all the reasons above it’s really hard to guarantee full removal as if your body decides it no longer wants to respond to the session or the ink is too deep for the laser to hit it without it cause damage to the skin then there is potential there will be small fragments on the tattoo remaining,  but as a guide it can take somewhere in the region of 6-10 sessions traditionally for full removal.

How many sessions do I need for a cover up?

Traditionally we would hope somewhere in the region of 3-5 sessions to break it down enough to be able to get a none compromised cover up and by non-compromised we mean it may be coverable without laser but the design would have to be functional over aesthetic, meaning its not the greatest looking tattoo but it does work as a cover up, and with a few laser session the design could be more aesthetic than functional.

So there you have some ideas of laser removal, how it works, what you can expect and a few frequently asked questions, we hope you found that useful.


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