When you get a tattoo, it can seem like a great idea and is a good representation of that point of your life. However, as we grow older many people will change and decide they actually don’t like their tattoo anymore. Maybe it was a spontaneous decision to get the tattoo, maybe the tattoo represented something or someone that is no longer in your life. Whatever the reason, tattoo removal is becoming more and more popular. There are numerous methods for removing tattoos – those who do not want to undergo surgical tattoo removal will often opt for laser tattoo removal instead.
However, there are a few things you need to know about laser tattoo removal before you decide that it is the best option for you.
1. It might hurt
It is well known that you will experience some level of pain as a result of laser tattoo removal. This is because the procedure does not involve the use of any local or general anaesthetic, and also involves the use of heat. People often describe the feeling as something similar to having an elastic band snapped on the skin.
Fortunately, the treatments are relatively quick, so you will not have to deal with any pain for very long. Your surgeon will be able to offer solutions to help minimise any discomfort, such as applying topical cream before the laser treatment starts.
Before undergoing laser tattoo removal, make sure you look up what type of laser your surgeon is going to use. To help minimise discomfort, you’re going to want surgeons to use Fotona’s Starwalker laser with a cooling system.
2. You may still end up with scarring
Some clinics will try and rush the tattoo removal, which will increase your risk of scarring occurring. The best clinics will take care of your skin and will leave enough time between appointments. The number of appointments and time between treatments will vary depending on the size and colour of the tattoo.
You may also end up with a faint outline of the tattoo rather than completely scarless skin.
If you are having tattoo removal on a prominent, visible area of the body, you may wish to consider whether you would be ok with a scar on that area.
3. Some tattoos are easier to remove than others
The best lasers will be able to remove tattoos of any colour and will be able to treat any skin type.
However, tattoos that were done by professionals are much easier to remove than those which were done by amateurs. Professionals will be able to ensure the tattoos are all at the same depth; when this does not happen, the tattoo becomes more difficult to remove. Prior to undergoing removal, you will attend a consultation with one of the surgeons, who will be able to assess whether or not your tattoo will be able to be removed with lasers.
4. You will generally need multiple treatments
In most instances, surgical tattoo removal can remove the tattoo in one session. Unfortunately, this is not the case for tattoos being removed with a laser.
As the treatments are short, most people will generally need to have multiple treatment sessions before the tattoo is completely removed. The actual number of sessions you need will vary depending on the size and colour of the tattoo. On average, people will require six sessions to achieve the desired results. You will need to wait a certain period of time between each removal. This gives the body enough time to break down the tattoo and remove it from your system.
5. Different colours require different wavelengths
Do you have a tattoo which has different colours? To effectively remove the whole tattoo, different wavelengths will need to be used.
Fortunately, Fotona’s Starwalker has a range of wavelengths, including:
- 1064nm Nd:YAG, used to remove dark ink
- 532nm KTP used to remove red, orange, purple and tan ink
- 650nm used to remove green ink
- 585nm used to remove light blue ink
6. The location of the tattoo matters
Where the tattoo is located on your body will not only determine how much it will hurt to remove but can also impact how easily it will fade.
The laser uses nanosecond pulses which are absorbed by the tattoo. The laser light causes the tattoo to break down into smaller particles. This is then absorbed by the body’s immune system and carried out of the body through your blood.
If your tattoo is located closer to your heart, it will naturally remove easier, as this is where there is stronger blood circulation. Tattoos which are located on your feet or arms are more difficult to remove.
7. You might experience some side effects
Following the laser tattoo removal, you may notice some swelling, redness, blistering or scabbing of the tattoo. This may seem concerning but do not worry – these are all completely normal and harmless side effects. These side effects should only last one or two weeks. If you experience any of these symptoms for a longer time period, make sure to raise this with your surgeon.
To help any side effects, it is best to ensure you look after the tattoo area after your treatments. The surgeon may apply a topical or anaesthetic cream to the tattoo area and may apply plaster or bandages. You may wish to ice the area to help minimise any discomfort and help reduce swelling. Make sure to treat the tattoo area with SPF sunscreen and antibacterial cream. If you do experience blistering or scabbing, make sure to avoid picking at it, no matter how tempting it may be.
Before you undergo laser tattoo removal, make sure you do your research. Find a clinic which offers a laser which will be able to remove your tattoo and will include a cooling system. Make sure you ensure you do not want to pursue alternative options, such as surgical removal or getting a new tattoo to cover the existing one. Make sure you know about all the side effects and risks, so you can be completely prepared for what will occur during and following the laser removal.
Are you interested in laser tattoo removal? This is a procedure Centre for Surgery currently offers. Contact us today to find out more information or to book a consultation.