On average, laser tattoo removal requires between 5 and 10 treatments to fully remove a tattoo. Some tattoos can take more, where others can take less. There are a large number of factors that play into how easy or difficult a tattoo is to remove. These factors include how dense and dark the ink is, where it is located on the body, skin type, whether the tattoo was professionally done or homemade, and even the person’s immune system.
The immune system is a vital component to laser tattoo removal. With each treatment the laser shatters ink into small enough particles that the immune system can then flush them away. Just as it takes time for your immune system to fight off a cold, it also takes time for it to flush away shattered ink particles.
Each laser treatment targets ink a little deeper in the skin than the previous treatment. By gradually working through the layers of ink, the skin is able to heal fully, in most cases. It also gives the immune system a chance to work on shattered ink without also working so hard to heal the skin. This allows for results to be noticed between each treatment.
More aggressive treatments could result in fewer treatments, but the risk for permanent skin damage and the time needed for healing and ink removal would be greatly increased. The risk just isn’t one Vanish is willing to take.
No one wants to see your tattoo fade quickly more than you, but Vanish is a very close second. We want you to see as much fading from treatment to treatment as possible with the least amount of skin changes. Removing ink only to leave behind a tattoo shaped scar would not make you very happy. We want you to be happy, because when you are happy, you are likely to tell others of your experience; and nothing is better for business than satisfied client.
It is possible for a tattoo to appear darker after laser treatment. One reason for this is that once ink has been broken up by the laser, the immune system is free to move the smaller particles around in the skin. The immune system can flush the ink away internally or push it out externally. Pushing ink out externally allows for the ink to appear darker at times.
If you have light colors in your tattoo that may contain traces of white ink, it is possible to see these lighter colors change to a darker shade. This happens as the white ink oxidizes and turns a grayish color. Have no fear. The new color will be treatable. It just typically requires a combination of wavelengths to completely remove the now darker color.
As always if you have questions or concerns about the progress of your treatments, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
This was a mixture of many light colors intended to create a flesh-toned cover-up. It is quite difficult to mimic a flesh-tone and often times they just do not turn out right. After laser treatments, the colors have oxidized. Notice that while the colors appear darker, the density is much less. After 3 treatments, we are beginning to see actual flesh color under the oxidized inks, especially in the center of the tattoo.
Laser tattoo removal is a process and should be approached as such, however, progress should be noticeable (at least to an extent) after each treatment. When a tattoo is in a very visible place where you see it daily, it can be hard to see the progress from one treatment to the next as the fading takes place gradually throughout the course of the healing process and beyond. Very dense line work is also hard to notice progress from one treatment to the next. That being said, at Vanish, we try to take a photo before each treatment and will be happy to put the photos side-by-side for you to see just how much progress has been made from your first treatment to your second and beyond.
With colors that fade out evenly, we often forget over the course of time just how bold the colors were when we started. Seeing progression pictures can be an encouragement that treatment is progressing nicely.
More dense colors or line work tend to progress more subtly at first. Solid black lines tend to thin out or spread out depending on how deep the ink is in the skin and how your immune system is most easily able to process the shattered ink.
Be mindful that the closer together your treatments are scheduled; the less fading you may see from one treatment to the next. When the ink is broken up by the laser, it takes time for your immune system to process it out. Often times the bulk of that reaction occurs in the first 4 weeks while the skin is also healing, but allowing a few more weeks before a subsequent treatment will allow more time for your immune system to work on the shattered ink and therefore you are more likely to see additional fading in that time however gradual it may be.
Linework tattoo before and 4 weeks after 1 treatment
Solid colorful tattoo before and 4 weeks after 1 treatment
It is best to postpone any laser treatments while taking any antibiotics. Many antibiotics cause sensitivity to light which could result in prolonged healing, increased blistering, intensified tenderness, etc. You must also take into consideration the reason for being on an antibiotic. Generally antibiotics are prescribed to aid the immune system in fighting off infection. While the immune system is busy with the infection, it will be less effective in flushing away shattered ink particles or in removing broken up skin pigment. The immune system is an amazing component of our lives and is capable of performing some pretty incredible feats, however giving it multiple areas to concentrate on can result in less than stellar results in any and all of the areas it is working.
In order to see the best possible results from your laser treatments it is best to wait at least a couple weeks after taking the last dose of antibiotics. It’s always best to be safe than sorry. And on the plus side, if you’ve already had laser treatments for tattoo removal or pigmentation removal, time is your friend. As long as there are broken particles of ink or pigment in the body the immune system will continue to work to flush them away even if at a slower rate than right after treatment.
Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net via amenic181