If you are reading this article, you’re probably in that awkward tattoo regret phase, and we DEFINITELY feel your pain! Before you make the final decision to get that unloved tattoo removed, we have created a list so you can learn from the mistakes of others! Here are some of the most helpful, must-know tips to read before you under the laser. With further adieu, let’s take a look.
Manage Your Expectations
Before you go under the laser, understand this: no tattoo removal is guaranteed. Be sure to set your expectations by speaking with a laser tattoo removal expert – or two. Some tattoos can partially fade after several treatments and may leave a ‘ghost’ image of your tattoo, as well as permanent raised scarring. So you have to yourself one question: would you rather do a cover up or be left with a ‘ghost image’ or raised scarring?
One Treatment Won’t Be Enough
You’ve probably already worked this out by now, but multiple treatments will be required and unfortunately the number of sessions isn’t something that can be worked out during your consultation meeting. Be wary of your doctor giving a standard 6-to-10-treatment answer, because on average, the number of treatments actually needed is often significantly higher. Furthermore, intervals between treatments are also a key factor. Obviously you want to remove that unwanted tattoo as soon as possible, but treating it again too soon can increase the side effects like open wounds and skin irritation. The average time between your sessions is about 4 to 6 weeks, but others may differ to the average. In some instances, 8 weeks is the recommended minimum time to go before your next treatment. Furthermore, it might be longer for patients who are experiencing textual changes and other side effects.
Location of the tattoo
More often than not, location will matter. Fading is typically slower for tattoos located further down the legs or arms as they are further from the heart. The closer the tattoo is to the heart the better circulation will be, therefore the better the results will be.
Professional vs. Amateur Tattoos
As with any removal procedure it will all depend on several factors. Professionally applied tattoos penetrate deeper into the skin which can make it easier for treatment to occur, but not always, as the ink is typically denser. Conversely, amateur tattoos are often applied with an uneven hand which can make the removal somewhat challenging but they are usually easier to remove.
Educating Yourself on the Different Lasers
There is no one laser that can remove all tattoo colours, as different laser wavelengths treat different colours and there are times when you may need multiple lasers to remove the pigment from your skin.
Expectations after Treatment
There are a number of symptoms you might experience post-treatment. Among them are swelling, blisters, raising of the tattoo, redness, pinpoint bleeding, and/or temporary darkening. You shouldn’t worry, though. These are typical symptoms and usually subside within one to two weeks. However, if they don’t, consult your doctor.
Be aware of any potential side effects
The most common side effect is hyper or hypo-pigmentation of the skin. This is typically corrects itself anywhere from 6 to 12 months later. Scarring is also another potential risk, as well as infection, textural changes of the skin, and burns.
The darkening effect is real
Some of the ink that is used in cosmetic tattoos, such as colours containing white ink, may darken almost instantly after treatment because of titanium dioxide present. This can generally be corrected with further treatment.
There’s a significantly higher risk of hypo-pigmentation with tattoo removal on darker skin tones
People who have darker skin can have a tattoo removed with lasers however there is a higher risk of hypo-pigmentation because the laser may actually remove the pigment from your skin along with the pigment of your tattoo. Your doctor should proceed with great caution and always do a spot test to minimize any potential risk.
Always ask questions and ask for photos
Laser tattoo removal is quite a safe procedure when performed by a qualified technician or doctor. Each person’s health, skin, and tattoos are different, so it’s important that you ask lots of questions! During your initial consultation, you should be asking about the potential side effects and risks based on your own situation. In addition to that, you should also be asking to see before and after photos from other clients with similar tattoos and skin type. All of this will enable you to manage your expectations for your own treatment.