Laser Tattoo Removal: 10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your Tattoo Removed

  • Eva G
  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 months ago

Tattoo Removal before and after pictures

If you're reading this, you're probably in the tattoo regret phase, and we're feel your pain! Before you make moves to get that unloved tattoo removed, we created this list so you can learn from our mistakes ! Here are the 10 most helpful, must-know tips to read before you go under the laser. Without further ado...
1. Set your expectations.
Before going in, know this: No tattoo removal is guaranteed. Set your expectations by speaking with a laser treatment expert — or three. Some tattoos fade only partially after several treatments and may leave a ghost image of your tattoo, as well as permanent raised scarring. So the big question is: Would you rather do a cover up or be left with a ghost image or partial tattoo?

2. One treatment isn't going to do it. 
You probably already realize this by now, but multiple treatments will be required and unfortunately, the number of sessions isn't something that can be predetermined during your initial consultation. Be cautious of your technician giving you a standard 6-to-10-treatments answer, as on average, the number of treatments actually needed is often much higher. In addition, intervals between treatments are a also a key factor. We know you want to remove that unwanted ink as quickly as possible, but treating again too soon can increase the risk of side effects like skin irritation and open wounds. The average time between sessions is 4 to 6 weeks, but of course, everybody is different. In some cases, 8 weeks is the recommended minimum time to go between treatments or longer for patients experiencing textual changes and other side effects.

3. Location of your Tattoo.
In most cases location does matter. Fading is generally slower for tattoos located further down the arms or legs as they are further from the heart. The closer the tattoo is to the heart the better circulation, therefore better results.

MORE: 8 Tips to Avoid TattooRegret

4. Professional vs Amateur Tattoos.
As with removal in general it depends on many factors. Professional applied tattoos penetrate deeper into the skin at uniform levels which can make it easier to treat, but not always, as the ink is usually more dense. Amateur tattoos are often applied with an uneven hand which can make the removal challenging but overall they are easier to remove.

Amateur TattooProfessional Tattoo

5. Educate yourself on the different types of lasers.

No single laser can remove all tattoo colors, different laser wavelengths treat different colors and sometimes you may need multiple lasers to remove the pigment.

6. What to expect after a treatment.
There are a handful of symptoms you might see post-treatment. Among them are blistersswelling, raising of the tattoo, pinpoint bleedingredness, and/or temporary darkening. Not to worry, though. These are common and usually subside within one to two weeks. If they don't, talk to your doctor.

Blisters    Swelling after Laser Tattoo Removal Redness

7. Be aware of the potential side effects.

The most common side effect is hyper- (darkening) or hypo-pigmentation (lightening) of the skin. This usually corrects itself anywhere from 6 to 12 months later. Scars (including keloid scarring) are also a potential risk, as well as infection, burns, and textural changes of the skin. 

Burn and Keloid Scar

8. The darkening effect is real.
Some of the ink used in cosmetic tattoos, including colors containing white ink, may darken (oxidize) immediately after treatment because of the presence of titanium dioxide. This can usually be corrected with further treatments.

9. There's a higher risk of hypopigmentation with tattoo removal on darker skin tones. 
People with darker skin can remove a tattoo with laser, however there is a higher risk of hypopigmention because the laser may remove pigment from your skin along with pigment from your tattoo. Your technician/doctor should proceed with caution and always do a test spot to minimize any risk.

10. Ask questions and ask for photos. 
Laser tattoo removal is generally safe when performed by a qualified technician or doctor. Each person's health, skin, and tattoos are different, so it's important to ask lots of questions! During your consultation, don't be afraid to ask about all the potential side effects and risks based on your own situation. On top of that, you should always ask to see before and after pictures from other clients with similar skin type and tattoos. All of this will help you set realistic expectations of your treatment.

Good luck!

Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Comments (6)

Laser treatments may darken or lighten skin pigment over and around the tattoo.
It's also worth mentioning that Laser isn't the only option. Non-Laser tattoo removal is becoming more common. It's much cheaper than laser (though still quite expensive), doesn't hurt and has been showing very good results. They can also give you the exact number number of treatments needed because it depends on tattoo size, not how the body responds to laser.
what non laser options are you talking about?
I was really nervous about tattoo removal because of the chance of scarring and blistering. I also didn't want it to hurt. I did quite a bit of research though and this blog was extremely helpful.. Hopefully anyone looking into the procedure finds it helpful as well... **removed 3rd party link as they are not permitted on the site**
There are a few things that all people can do to help ensure that they get the best result possible from their laser tattoo removal. The comment below touches on this a little bit we would like to expand on the topic. Lasers do the hard work of breaking the ink apart into smaller particles, but the body actually does the majority of the work removing the ink. Healthy clients see better results and improving ones physical health and overall immune system can have great effects on your tattoo removal. This includes not smoking, healthy diet and sleep patterns as well as sunblock. Here is a little more information regarding immune system support and tattoo removal. ***removed 3rd party link***
You did amazing putting this together... My best advice is be patient and please forgive yourself... Mistakes happen... Darker skin does have different changes, be prepared for them... My review is up and you can see where my skin has lightened after 6 treatments... Also spacing is important... Your dr/clinician will work on a plan tailored to your situation, your tattoo, and your skin... Breath, drink plenty of water, keep healthy, and don't be scared to reach out for help... Sometimes the emotional roller coaster is worse then the physical part... This site has many ink regret siblings, we will do our best to support and answer questions based on our own experience as well... Best of luck to anyone reading this and embarking on this path...