Though tattoo popularity and acceptance seem to have grown in recent years, laser tattoo removal remains a hot topic. Some people are choosing to use lasers as a means of getting rid of an unwanted tattoo, but there are a lot of questions that come with the procedure. This article aims to answer as many questions about laser tattoo removal as possible. There’s a lot you need to know about this process as, similar to getting a tattoo, it’s a medical procedure and should be treated with the same degree of professionalism and care.
Laser Tattoo Removal Basics
If you are planning on having a tattoo removed and the laser is your chosen method, then odds are you have some questions. We’ve done a lot of research and talked to experts to get the best answers to your questions so that you go into your tattoo removal appointment knowing that this method is right for you. Below are some of the commonly asked questions about this method of tattoo removal.
How does laser tattoo removal work?
The process involves taking a laser producing machine and firing a medical grade laser at your tattooed skin in short, controlled bursts called “pulses”.
In most cases the removal of a tattoo will take several sessions. The total number of sessions depends heavily on your tattoo. Professional tattoos take longer to remove that “scratched” or homemade tattoos. Color will typically take longer to remove than black and grey tattoos.
Does it hurt?
Many people’s first question about the process is, “Does laser tattoo removal hurt?” The pain of each pulse has been compared to having a rubber band snapped against the skin. Many people who undergo tattoo removal via laser say that there’s a sensation of extreme heat as well. Many places that provide laser removal services offer some kind of anesthetic–or numbing cream/ injection to reduce the discomfort of the laser.
Does laser tattoo removal work?
In most cases, yes. But it’s important to note that there are hundreds of kinds of tattoo ink in use today and their ingredients vary, which can produce unpredictable results. It’s rare, but some inks may require additional sessions or may leave a faint trace behind. The type of laser being used also plays a role in how well the tattoo is removed. Generally speaking, laser tattoo removal is the gold standard of tattoo removal methods. While dermabrasion and surgical removal are still offered, professionals agree that the laser method is the most effective and most reliable means of tattoo removal.
How many sessions does it take to remove a tattoo?
That depends on two variables: How large your tattoo is and what colors are included in your tattoo. Black is removed the easiest; followed by red orange and pink. Purple and yellow are slightly more difficult to remove and blues, greens, and teals typically require more work to remove than other colors. White ink and flesh tones run the risk of turning darker with exposure to the laser, so a test spot may be necessary to confirm that the laser won’t actually make it worse.
Will there be a scar?
Laser tattoo removal has come a long way. Scarring is far less common now than it used to be (on average, fewer than 5% of clients experience scarring), but there are some factors that play a role in whether or not you will have a scar. Dark skin tones, pregnancy, poor circulation, immune deficiencies, certain medications, or a history of keloids all increase your chance of scarring. For tips on reducing your chances of scarring from laser tattoo removal, we suggest this guide.
How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
Costs depend largely on the number of sessions required to remove your tattoo. The number of sessions required will depend on the size of your tattoo, the colors of inks involved, and your tolerance for pain. Generally speaking, it’s common to see tattoo removal services start as low as $100-250 depending on your location. It’s not uncommon for laser removal costs to exceed $1000-2000 for larger pieces such as arm or leg sleeves or $5000 for large back pieces.
How long does it take to heal?
The healing process following laser tattoo removal is longer than when you get your tattoo. Additionally, during your treatment and up to 8 weeks after you’ll need to avoid UV/ sunlight. Broad spectrum UVB/ UV sunscreen should be applied to the treated area any time you go out during this period. The treated area will need to remain dry and covered with a non-adhering bandage for 3 hours following treatment.
What Should I Look For In A Tattoo Removal Service?
In the U.S., you want to make sure that the service is offered by a licensed medical professional. In the E.U., restrictions aren’t as tight and tattoo removal services can even be administered by tattoo shops. For U.S. clients that means that there are a few choices you have in terms of where you go to get your tattoo removal done.
Something else you can look for is the type of laser being used. In many cases the company providing the removal service will use more than one type of laser because different wavelengths of light are required to remove different colored pigments. One of the most common lasers you’ll see are Nd:YAG lasers which specialize in the removal of red and orange pigment and ruby lasers that specialize in removing blue and green pigments. People with darker skin tones will want to look for a provider that uses a Nd:YAG 1064nm laser as this particular device works especially well for darker-skinned people. Additionally, you will likely want to look for Q-switching lasers, as these are the most modern FDA approved devices and produce the most powerful and effective lasers. The laser devices we previously mentioned ( Nd:YAG and Ruby) both come in Q-switching models.
For more details about the different uses of tattoo removal lasers, visit the tattoo removal wikipedia page.
What Does Your Skin Look Like After Laser Removal?
From session to session your tattoo will look different because you’ll only receive partial treatment per session. Additionally, the appearance of the tattoo will change at various stages of the process. It’s common to see the skin above the tattoo turn white after being exposed to the laser and that can be a bit unsettling for people who aren’t expecting that. But don’t worry, it’s just a temporary state. Your skin will typically return to its original pigment, though some treatments can leave the treated skin slightly lighter than the surrounding skin.
Find Laser Tattoo Removal Services in Richmond, VA
If you live in Richmond, VA and are looking for a qualified place that does laser tattoo removal, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Head over to our Laser Tattoo Removal Richmond VA page for a list of service providers in your area.
For folks outside of the Richmond area, a simple Google search will often lead you in the right direction. For our readers overseas, we understand it is increasingly common to see tattoo removal services being offered by tattoo shops themselves. We promise to look into this and perhaps get a post up about it. If you happen to have some handy info on the subject or some sources we can check out, please feel free to send them to me via the Contact Us page.