How Long Do I Have to Wait Before Having my Second Laser Tattoo Removal?

Last week i had my first laser tattoo removal session and a friend of mine went to a different place for her first session aswell. Our tattoos are quite similar, however he booked me in for my second session two weeks later were as she was told she had to wait at least a month before her second session. Is there a time gap you have to wait between sessions?

Doctor Answers 11

Tattoo treatment timing

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Think of your tattoo as if it's a boulder under your skin. Your body can't absorb it because it's too big. The laser acts to break up the boulder into smaller particles that your body can absorb. Think about a bruise you may get after an injury; it takes time for the body to take it away. If you let your body do the maximal work it's going to do after a laser treatment, you will need fewer treatments. Also, if you treat an area too soon after the last treatment, the skin may not have healed adequately and you could form a scar or lose your natural skin color in the treated area. We like to wait 4 to 6 weeks between treatments. We carefully check to see what the laser has accomplished and then adjust the settings for the next laser treatment.

Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Tattoo removal interval

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We recommend 4-6 weeks in between. This allows appropriate reabsorbtion of pigment and healing of any skin changes that occurred. This may be device dependent but we follow the Alma guidelines. 

Having Second Treatment

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I usually have my patients wait 4-6 weeks between treatments. This is because the pigment has to be absorb by the body. Getting your next treatment any sooner can result in scarring and pigment change. 

Hardik Soni, MD (not currently practicing)
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician

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Waiting Until My 2nd Treatment with Laser Tattoo Removal

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A minimum of 4 weeks is required between tattoo removal treatments. However, some patients choose to wait longer. We usually see patients every 4-8 weeks for tattoo removal treatments.

David L. Robbins, MD, FACS
West Des Moines Plastic Surgeon

2nd treatment

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6-8 weeks is the standard time between treatments.  Lighter skin tones can go shorter intervals.  The skin needs to recover before a subsequent treatment is done

David S. Rosenberg, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Wait 6 Weeks between Laser Tattoo Removal Treatments

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Treatment times for laser tattoo removal are pretty much routine for most of us that do this a lot — we wait for the next treatment about 6 weeks after the first session. Your friend is getting her treatment way too early and may be setting herself up for an increased risk of pigment change on the skin or for scarring, no matter who is doing it and no matter what type of laser is being used — this is way too fast. The laser light that penetrates the skin, to the ink, breaking up the ink — needs to allow the body to remove the ink in the area — otherwise, complications can occur.

Wait — you will be fine.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Wait between tattoo laser removal sessions depends on laser, tattoo, and skin type.

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In order to more fully answer your question comparing your friend's 2 week wait with your one month wait, it would be valuable to know which laser you each had used, your natural skin tones, and the colors of your tattoos. Generally speaking, waiting 4 to 6 weeks between treatments is more typical, since it may take a few weeks for the pigment disintegrated by each treatment to be absorbed fully by your body, making you ready to get the most out of the following treatment. Treating too close together may also increase the risk of marks being left on your skin, and may cost more in the long run. However, that said, it may also rid you of your tattoo faster, if your tattoo and skin type can handle the frequent treatments. 

Other factors that may affect how long the doctor recommends waiting include the size of your tattoo and the location on your body, since larger tattoos and tattoos further away from the heart at the ends of the limbs may both take longer for your body to absorb.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Laser Tattoo Removal

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Time gaps between laser treatments can vary depending on what type of laser is being used. Please consult your provider for your individual needs, as everyone is different and may require a different number of sessions due to skin type.

Tim Sayed, MD, MBA, FACS
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Laser tattoo removal waiting a month or more in between treatments

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Although there may be prolonged healing if a recently laser-treated area is treated too soon, some physicians might consider treating at two weeks, but the standard time interval between two laser tattoo removal treatments is four to six weeks.  This allows the shattered granules from the explosive laser energy which was absorbed by the tattoo pigment, to be engulfed by the macrophage immune cells and then be carried away through the lymphatic system.  The pigment will then be less dense and ready for another treatment.  Theoretically (not proven) treating too soon might make the granules explode out of the macrophages creating an inefficient scenario in which the granules would need to be engulfed again.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Tattoos can be treated as often as every two weeks

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In my experience, tattoos can be treated as often as every two weeks.

It is important to realize that the longer you wait between treatments, the fewer treatments you will need. This is because Q-switched laser treatment shatters the granules of tattoo ink, making it easier for your body to get rid of the ink. The longer you wait between treatments, the more work your body does and the less work there is for the laser to do.

BUT not everyone wants to wait 6-12 months between treatments, because on that schedule it might take several years to fade the tattoo to a worthwhile degree.

As a practical matter, the treatment schedule is custom tailored to the individual being taken care of, considering their schedule, budget and personal preferences. Most patients like to come in for treatment every 2-3 months, but it is important for them to know that they can increase or decrease the frequency of treatment if they wish.

Kevin C. Smith, MD
Niagara Falls Dermatologic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.