You may be shocked to find out that lasers DO NOT in fact remove tattoos from your skin. Wait…What? It’s true. Laser tattoo removal is quite misleading, at least with regards to the name. Lasers DO make it possible for the tattoo ink to be removed from the skin, but they do not do the actual removal.
So, if lasers don’t do the removal, what does?
Your own immune system is the workhorse behind the scenes of laser tattoo removal. It all starts with the intensely focused light energy of the laser being absorbed by the tattoo ink. The ink particles heat up and expand eventually shattering into much smaller particles. At this point your immune system rushes in, absorbs those tiny particles, and begins carrying them out of your body.
The immune system is an amazing thing. It works hard every day to rid our body of toxins and pathogens. It fights off illnesses often before we even begin to get sick. As any super hero has a weakness, so your immune system has its limits. When too many things are keeping the immune system busy, it tends to slow down. It still does a very good job of keeping us healthy, but it may take a bit longer to accomplish all the tasks it has.
This is especially true for things like laser tattoo removal. When you have a cold between treatments, you may notice that your tattoo doesn’t fade as much as with prior treatments. It doesn’t mean that your immune system quit working on the shattered ink. It just means that your immune system had a lot to do and likely focused more of its resources on healing your cold.
Anything you can do to boost your immune system will help to speed the laser tattoo removal process along. Alternately, anything that compromises the immune system can slow the process. Also remember, begin sick between treatments may slow the flushing of the ink, but shouldn’t cause problems. However, if you are sick the day of your appointment (or even a day or two prior) or you’ve been on antibiotics within 10-14 days of your scheduled appointment, it is best to reschedule. We don’t want to knowingly add more strain to your immune system than is necessary, and antibiotics tend to cause sensitivity to light which can lead to unwanted reactions after laser treatment. As always, if in doubt, contact your laser specialist and ask questions. It’s better to be safe than sorry.