With the advances in laser technology, tattoos aren’t necessarily the lifelong commitment they used to be. However, this doesn’t mean laser tattoo removal works the same for everyone or every tattoo. In order to have realistic expectations as to how well your laser treatment can remove your tattoo, you should take into account the issues described here.
Understanding Laser Basics
Laser technology uses intense laser beams to break down the pigment of the tattoo. As the tattoo ink breaks down into smaller particles, the body’s natural systems flush the ink out. Due to the way lasers work on tattoos, some people and tattoos make better candidates for laser removal than others.
Which Tattoos Respond Best to Laser Removal
Most tattoos can be removed or have their appearance significantly reduced using laser tattoo removal. One issue to consider is when the tattoo was done. Over the past decade, the inks used have become stronger, which means they are harder to remove. As a result, tattoos that are more than 10 years old will probably respond better to removal treatment.
Regardless of when the tattoo was done, some colors are easier to remove than others. The laser beams hone in on contrasts, so the darker the ink color, the easier it is to remove. Reds and yellows are more difficult to remove and may require more treatment sessions than tattoos with other colors. Furthermore, a multicolored tattoo will always require multiple treatment sessions because different ink colors respond to different laser wavelengths.
Another issue to consider is where the tattoo is located on the body. Areas that have more body fat, like arms, buttocks, legs, or the chest, tend to have better removal results than areas with less fat, such as ankles or fingers.
Which People Respond Best to Laser Removal
As noted earlier, lasers like color contrasts and work best where they can find those contrasts. As a result, lighter skinned people tend to have better results using lasers to remove tattoos. The color of the ink is still a factor, but the lighter the skin, the greater the contrast no matter what color inks have been used.
In addition, healthier people with strong immune systems often get better results. The healthier a person is can translate into fewer laser sessions needed. Most of the unpleasant side effects associated with laser removal of tattoos generally come as one has to go through a high number of sessions. Thus, the fewer sessions needed, the less likely one will experience any side effects.
Being at a healthy weight can also improve the quality of the removal. Some professionals have recommended that if possible, one should lose any excess weight before having a tattoo removed. Smoking has also been found to reduce the quality of results of laser treatment, so it’s also been recommended for people to stop smoking before starting treatment.
Factors That Can Be Controlled
Even with the issues discussed above, most tattoos will respond to laser treatment. The issue is to what degree will the tattoo be removed and will there be any side effects. While many of the considerations already mentioned are out of one’s control, there are steps one can take to ensure the best results possible.
Before treatment, one should be well-hydrated and have gotten a full night’s sleep. Using a topical numbing agent can help reduce pain, but oral pain relievers like ibuprofen, aren’t recommended. The clinic performing the treatment should have a pain management option available.
After treatment, one should avoid heat to the treated area. This means not taking a hot shower in the 24 hours following a session and avoiding direct sun exposure for several days afterwards. The more careful the area is treated between laser sessions, the better it will respond.