When you get a tattoo, you select your body art because it has special meaning – but there may be times when damage to the tattoo or simply growing out the message of your ink means it’s time to start fresh. Removing a tattoo is easier and more effective than ever before because of advanced laser technology. At Rejuvené MD in El Paso, TX we know that laser tattoo removal can be an excellent option for those who want to restore the blank canvas of their skin.
How Many Sessions of Laser Tattoo Removal Do You Need?
Laser tattoo removal is a gradual process that breaks up the pigment of your tattoo over several sessions. Most people require about six to 12 treatments to completely remove an unwanted tattoo. The estimated number of treatments you will need will depend on your specific tattoo, however. Some people who have smaller tattoos, for example, may require fewer sessions.
Several factors are involved in determining how many tattoo removal sessions you will need to restore the un-inked appearance of your skin. These factors can include the size of the tattoo, the type of ink used for the tattoo, the age of the tattoo, whether or not the tattoo was professionally done, and even the location of the tattoo. Let’s break some of these factors down.
Size and Location
By far the most influential factor that will determine how many laser tattoo removal sessions you will need depends on the size of the tattoo. Larger tattoos cover more skin and use more ink, so they will generally take as many as 10 to 12 sessions to remove. Smaller tattoos, on the other hand, can be removed in four to six sessions.
The location of the tattoo will also matter. The skin on different areas of your body holds on to ink more effectively because the tattoo needle can deposit pigment deeper into the skin. You may be able to more easily remove tattoos that are placed where the skin is thinnest, such as the hands, while areas that have deeper skin like the back, thigh, and arms may require more treatments.
Professional vs Amateur
As a general rule, a professional tattoo is much more difficult to remove than an amateur tattoo because of the type of high-quality pigments and professional equipment used to create the body art. While this can be a benefit when you are getting a tattoo because it means your ink will be less likely to fade, professional tattoos turn into a slight disadvantage for these same reasons if you want to remove the tattoo at any point.
Amateur tattoos are usually easier to remove because the equipment used for tattooing can’t penetrate the skin very deeply, which is why ink sits closer to the surface of the skin and tends to fade or blur more easily. Removing an amateur tattoo can take about half the time as removing a professional tattoo for these reasons.
Color and Pigment
The specific color of the tattoo and the ink pigments used will also be a major determining factor in how quickly you can remove an unwanted tattoo. Certain colors and pigments are more easily removed than others. During laser tattoo removal, the laser system works by detecting pigment that is darker than the skin tone and then using heat to shatter these pigments inside the skin. Because grayscale ink has a higher contrast for most skin tones, it can take fewer sessions to remove a black and grey tattoo.
Colorful tattoos may not have a high level of contrast between the pigment of the ink and the shade of your skin. Jewel-toned colors are usually more responsive than lighter or very bright colors, particularly yellow, pink, and orange. The type of pigment used for your tattoo can also affect how many sessions you will need. Some tattoo ink, such as for cosmetic tattoos, are made with pigments that are less hearty than other types of ink, so it may take more sessions to effectively remove the tattoo.
Finally, the age of the tattoo is also a significant factor in determining how many tattoo removal sessions you will need. Older tattoos tend to be easier to remove because the pigment in the tattoo has already faded somewhat due to age and sun exposure. Newer tattoos, on the other hand, have very new pigment that is more resistant to laser treatments.
While you will still be able to remove a newer tattoo, your timing for your treatments will be important. If you want to remove a new tattoo, then you will need to wait at least six months to one year before you can start removal sessions. This is both so your skin can adequately heal after your tattoo is complete and so the pigment in the tattoo has time to settle and age a bit for easier removal.
How Often Are Your Sessions?
In general, it will take a significant amount of time to remove unwanted tattoos from your skin. Your treatment sessions will usually be spaced about four to 12 weeks apart depending on your skin type and factors about the tattoo. The goal of this treatment frequency is to make sure your skin is ready for another treatment, so we allow plenty of time for healing between treatments. The spacing of your treatments will also allow enough time for the body to slowly eliminate shattered pigments from the skin.
How Does This Treatment Work?
Your laser tattoo removal treatments will usually take about 20 to 60 minutes to complete based on the size of your tattoo and how many tattoos you are treating during each session. This treatment works by using a special laser system to heat and break up pigment in the sub-dermal layers of your skin. Over time, this pigment will be eliminated as waste by the natural healing process of the body and the appearance of your tattoo will gradually fade.
This treatment is well-tolerated by most people. In fact, having a tattoo removed is no more uncomfortable than getting a tattoo in the first place. Our Enlighten III by Cutera laser system gives patients a fairly comfortable and fast tattoo removal experience.
What Should You Do After Treatment?
Just like with any other laser system, you will need to be mindful of sun exposure after your treatment. Unprotected exposure to sunlight can create hyperpigmentation concerns after a laser system. If you plan to be outside, then you should be sure to cover your skin and wear SPF 30 or higher. It’s also important to wear SPF to prevent sunburns that can delay your next treatment.
After your treatment, you will usually be able to return to your normal daily activities with very few restrictions. For at least 24 hours after your treatment, you will need to avoid hot water, steam, heat, chlorine, and chemical exfoliants on any treated areas of your skin. You may want to keep your skin moisturized with gentle lotions or aloe vera.
Can You Speed Up Tattoo Removal?
Understandably, many patients balk at the idea of needing several laser tattoo removal treatments to effectively remove an unwanted tattoo. However, there are some methods you can use to speed up your tattoo removal and recovery process. In particular, taking good care of your skin between treatments is the best way to speed up your treatment process.
You can take good care of your skin by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as drinking enough water, taking vitamins, and eating a balanced diet. The health of your skin is particularly important for laser treatments, so it’s a good idea to use good moisturizing products and minimize any stress that could lower the health of your skin.
Restore the Canvas of Your Skin
People want to remove tattoos for several reasons. For example, sometimes you may grow out of the meaning of your tattoo or the tattoo may have been damaged by injury and can’t be restored. Other people may remove tattoos in visible locations to have better job prospects. No matter what your reason is, you can easily remove unwanted tattoos with laser treatments.
It will generally take anywhere from six to 12 treatment sessions to remove tattoos, particularly very large or very colorful tattoos. Other factors about your tattoo may mean you will require fewer removal sessions. Contact us at Rejuvené MD in El Paso, TX to schedule your tattoo removal consultation today.