We all do things we regret. If you’re lucky, the after-effects of your mistakes fade with time. But what if the mistake was a tattoo? Those need a little help to fade. Don’t let your old, embarrassing tattoos hold you back from living the life you want. Invest in tattoo removal today with Verve Weight Loss and Laser Aesthetics, located in Upland, CA.
What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
If you have tattoos, you probably have one are two that are your favorites. Maybe they are especially meaningful, or maybe they’re stunning works of art. It makes sense then, that you might also have a tattoo that you aren’t particularly fond of. Maybe it reminds you of your ex or it represents an experience you no longer want to be illustrated on your body. Maybe you just think it’s ugly now.
Whatever the reason, there is a solution! Getting your tattoos lasered off is the most effective way to erase them from your body. So what should you know before the appointment?
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Unfortunately, tattoos don’t disappear with only one laser removal session. It can take several months to a year. When you first meet with an esthetician, they will give you an estimate of how many sessions it will take to fully remove your unwanted tattoo. While you can have sessions ever two weeks, it’s best to wait six to eight weeks between sessions to help your tattoo fade.
This is because the laser only starts the process. After the laser’s work is done, it’s time for your body to do the rest of the job. Your body has to clear all the ink particles that have exploded from the laser energy, and this takes time. If you are patient and allow your body the time it needs between sessions, you will get better results from the process.
All Ink Can Be Removed
There’s an old myth that colored ink is difficult to remove and that lasers only effectively remove black and dark inks. But this isn’t true, especially with new technology that makes removing those stubborn yellows and greens easy.
Be Ready for Needles
If you’ve had tattoos, you’re already used to getting poked by needles, but it’s different when you expect it. Most people don’t know that laser treatment also includes needles. Having unexpected needles enter the process can make the treatment stressful, so know going in that needles are involved.
Of course, the needles used in laser treatments are not the same as the needles used in tattooing. When your esthetician is ready to begin the treatment, they will use a needle filled with lidocaine to numb the area that will be lasered. Of course, you can refuse the lidocaine, but it makes the whole treatment much more comfortable, so we suggest you opt to use the numbing solution.
Be Prepared for Aftercare
Just like when you get a tattoo, there are certain things you should do after to care for the area of skin that has been affected. You will need bandages, an antibiotic ointment or a healing moisturizer, and clothing that doesn’t irritate the area of skin you have had lasered. Your skin will be sensitive, so any clothing that lays directly on the area that is being treated may be uncomfortable. You might want to invest in a new shirt or pair of pants that fall in a way that won’t brush against your skin.
For the first several days after each treatment session, you should apply a thin coating of the antibiotic ointment or healing moisturizer three times a day while also regularly changing the bandages. This will help the area heal well so your skin is ready for the next session.
You Can Lighten the Ink Enough for a Cover-Up
Maybe you dislike a tattoo you’ve gotten but you still like the placement of it. Or maybe you just don’t want to go through the many sessions of lasering necessary to take your tattoo all the way off. A great option is to get a cover-up. You’ll want to make sure that your tattoo is lightened enough to not show through the cover-up, but you don’t need to erase it completely.
How Does It Work?
It almost seems magical that shining a laser light on your tattoos can make them fade, and eventually disappear. How does the process work, and why is it the best option for removing unwanted ink?
The Basic Process
During each treatment you have with your esthetician, they will guide a laser over the area with the unwanted tattoo. But unlike other lasers, like the ones used by teachers or to play with cats, the lasers used in tattoo removal don’t produce a continuous beam of the light. Instead, they create pulses of light.
Most practitioners use a Q-switched laser, which produces immensely powerful, brief pulses of light energy. The pulses only last a few nanoseconds, and each pulse penetrates the skin and is then absorbed by the tattoo ink. The tattoo ink heats up and then shatters into tiny fragments. Over the next several weeks after treatment, the body’s immune system begins to flush away the tattoo ink particles.
Tattoo ink particles are very small, so they only need to be heated up for a very brief period in order to explode. On the other hand, skin cells are much larger in comparison and require light energy for a longer period of time in order to be damaged. Q-switched lasers are so helpful because the brief pulses of light are short enough to effectively target the tattoo ink, but not long enough to damage the skin cells. Practitioners can selectively target a tattoo without hurting the surrounding skin.
Targeting Colored Ink
At one point in time, it was widely believed that you could not remove colored tattoos. While this isn’t true, removing colored tattoos does require adjusting the laser to use the appropriate wavelength of light for each color. This is because different colors absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light. A red chair appears red because it absorbs green light and reflects red light. The same thing is true for a red tattoo.
The goal of laser tattoo removal is to have the ink absorb the light from the laser, so you need to make sure that the wavelength of light you are using will be well absorbed by the color of the ink. Because the red tattoo reflects red light and absorbs green light, using a red laser to remove the tattoo would not work. You would want to use light in the green wavelength to remove a red tattoo, as a different wavelength would not be absorbed by the ink so readily.
Estheticians who remove multicolored tattoos need to have access to a variety of laser wavelengths to allow for versatility in treatment.
Once you have had a laser treatment session, it’s time for your body to get to work. The laser treatment only begins the process, and your body has to do the rest. After you have had a treatment session, your immune system’s phagocytic cells slowly begin to move the shattered particles of ink to the lymph nodes. Your body can only flush away the ink so quickly, so it’s important to give yourself time between sessions for your immune system to work.
One of the reasons that tattoo removal takes several sessions is because, when you get a tattoo, the ink is not injected all at the same depths. Rather, the ink is spread at different depths in the dermis. When you are treated with a laser, only the uppermost layer of ink can be treated. Once the light is absorbed by ink particles, it can’t continue traveling to deeper layers of the dermis.
The treatment effectively removes layer after layer of ink. Once the first layer of tattoo ink has been shattered and absorbed by the immune system, it will clear that layer of skin. Once the layer is cleared, the ink in the next layer can be seen and treated. Layer by layer, treatment by treatment, your tattoo will disappear. This is why it’s necessary that you give yourself several weeks between sessions for the ink to clear. If your immune system doesn’t have enough time to process the ink particles into your lymph nodes, the laser won’t be able to effectively reach the deeper layer of ink in the next session.
Considering the Alternatives
While you may not want to dedicate the time and energy necessary for successful laser tattoo removal, it’s the only non-invasive and effective way to rid yourself of unwanted tattoos.
Before modern laser treatments were available, people had to make the choice between living with their unwanted ink or undergo expensive excision surgery. In this type of surgery, the surgeon removes the skin of the unwanted tattoo with a scalpel and then closes the wound with stitches. Of course, this was only able to be done on small tattoos as large wounds would require a skin graft.
The other option before modern laser treatments came into popularity was the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. While this type of laser can effectively remove tattoo ink, it uses a continuous wavelength, unlike modern laser therapies that use high powered pulses of light. The continuous nature of CO2 lasers makes them likely to leave scars on your skin.
Currently, there are a variety of other non-invasive ink removal products on the market, often in the form of creams or injectables. They offer a quick fix for your unwanted ink, but the reality is that these products are not effective. The creams are simply bleaching cream marketed towards unwanted tattoos. However, they can’t penetrate the skin, so they won’t actually bleach away your ink. While injectables can penetrate the skin, they contain a number of unsafe chemicals and are still not effective.
Laser tattoo removal is the only effective way to get rid of your unwanted tattoos. Unlike the alternatives, it doesn’t introduce harmful chemicals to your body or force you to undergo surgery. While permanent and full removal takes time, it’s worth it to feel comfortable about the skin you’re in. Don’t waste your time feeling held back by the choices your old self made and the ink you got when you were younger. Invest in your future and allow yourself to grow in new ways. Maybe you’re after totally clear skin, or maybe you plan on lightening your old ink enough for a cover-up. No matter your plans, laser tattoo removal is your answer to your old, unwanted ink.
If you have any questions about the process of removing unwanted tattoos, or would like to schedule a consultation, reach out to us at Verve Weight Loss and Laser Aesthetics in Upland, CA today.