Laser tattoo removal typically doesn't result in scar formation. But sometimes darker-skinned individuals can experience some loss of pigmentation; over time, however, this becomes less noticeable. And occasionally the outline of the original tattoo can persist.
Though most people find that there's little to no scarring from the process, it does happen. More frequently occurring in those with darker skin tones, scarring can come about due to a loss of pigmentation. But this will likely come back over time and become less visible.
The energy from the laser breaks down the tattoo ink into tiny fragments, which are eventually absorbed into the bloodstream and safely passed out of the body.
From the Second Week Onwards After Tattoo Removal
You might notice the treated skin looking darker as the pigment rises to the surface of the skin. The area around it might lighten (hypopigmentation) or darken (hyperpigmentation) too. This is completely normal and will fade with time.
Immediately following treatment, you may notice the tattoo area appears white and chalky. This effect is due to carbon dioxide being released from the skin and is an entirely normal part of the laser tattoo removal healing process.
Again, there is no guarantee that your tattoo will completely disappear after treatment. Some tattoos only fade partially, leaving a “ghost” or “shadow” image behind.
After your laser tattoo removal procedure, you might expect some redness, swelling, mild blistering, itching, and raised areas. This is to be expected. At first, the skin will be very sensitive and tender. These reactions to treatment should fade within two weeks.
The three layers of skin
Whether you're getting a tattoo or getting one removed, the process directly involves the skin. It's helpful to understand the skin and its layers to fully appreciate the process of tattooing and tattoo removal. The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.
After your first laser treatment, the area will get red and have some swelling. There might be a tingly sunburn sensation for 30-45 minutes post-treatment, and blistering is the most severe of side effects, which typically pops up within 24 hours of your first session.
Laser tattoo removal not fading can be caused by several factors. Some of which are the type of laser used, laser wavelength and ink colour, the laser technicians experience, recovery time between each session, and your immune system. Tattoo removal using laser treatment is not magic.
Although it is not possible to predict the number of sessions required for complete removal, most patients generally need 6 – 8 sessions. Larger tattoos may take 10 treatments or more.
One of the most common questions we get during our laser tattoo removal consultations is, “will my skin go back to normal?” And if this is something you've wondered too, we have good news for you. For the most part, yes, your skin will go back to “normal”!
In some cases, tattoo removal can, and does fail, however the good news is that failure is completely avoidable when you know what to look out for.
This depends on the age, colors, size, and location of the tattoo. Larger tattoos may require between eight and 10 removal sessions. Smaller tattoos may require between five and seven removal sessions. However, some tattoos can take as few as two treatments or as many as a dozen sessions.
Most tattoos will require between five and ten sessions. Bigger tattoos will take up to the ten sessions, while the smaller ones may be closer to five sessions. It is safe to assume your tattoo will need somewhere in there too. This is a broad answer because laser removal of tattoos will depend on many factors.
Done well, the skin should look like there was never a tattoo. Done poorly, there can be a scar and/or permanent skin discoloration. It's important to choose a provider that has a lot of experience specific to tattoo removal and to know what lasers are best at removing the tattoo you have.
Green is the hardest color to remove followed by light blue. Neon colors are also incredibly difficult to remove, and typically require multiple treatments with the Ruby laser. As a general rule, the greater the contrast between the color of the tattoo pigment and your skin, the better the result.
Different colors of ink absorb color differently. Specifically, lighter colors like white, yellow, light blue, and pink are the most difficult to remove, as are green, red, and neon colors.
Older tattoos generally fade more easily with laser treatments than newer ones. For instance, a black tattoo that is ten years old may take one or two treatments less than a one year old black tattoo. Why? Because the body has already absorbed some of the tattoo's pigment throughout the years, making it easier to fade.
No matter when you got your tattoo, laser treatment can remove it. However, older ink is easier to remove than new ink, so you'll probably require fewer treatments if you're having an old tattoo removed than you will with a newer one.
Our experts recommend waiting until your tattoo has completely healed which can take around six to eight weeks after having the tattoo before you start your removal sessions. This will help avoid damage to your skin. How long does it take to remove fresh tattoo ink from skin?
The short answer to “are newer tattoos easier to remove” is “no”. Newer tattoos aren't easier to remove via laser technology than older tattoos.
With tattoo removal hyperpigmentation, the area where the tattoo was removed looks darker than the surrounding skin, similar to sunspots. Hyperpigmentation after laser tattoo removal is usually correctable—the body naturally eliminates this extra pigment over a period of time.