Spring and summer are just around the corner, bringing with them warmth, sunshine, and lots of time spent in the beautiful outdoors. That means spending time hanging out in your bathing suit, shorts, and tank tops. But what if you have an old tattoo that you’re embarrassed by? Don’t let your mistakes continue to hold you back from enjoying the life you deserve. Invest in laser tattoo removal today to make your skin as clear as your future. You can get all your tattoo removal needs met at the Rejuvu Day Spa & Beauty Haven, conveniently located in West Point, UT.
What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
Getting a tattoo is a big decision, as is getting a tattoo removed. Before taking that step, it’s important that you understand what tattoo removal is and how it works.
Is Laser Removal the Only Way to Get Rid of an Unwanted Tattoo?
There are three options for removing that tattoo you wish you’d never gotten. But when you look at the other options, you’ll see why laser removal is the most popular.
This method uses something called a Q-switched laser that releases energy in a powerful pulse. The laser energy shatters the tattoo ink so it can be reabsorbed.
With this method, the area with the unwanted tattoo is removed with a scalpel. Then, the edges of the skin are stitched back together. This method is only possible with small tattoos because removing a larger patch of skin would then require a skin graft in order to heal properly. Obviously, this method will leave you with scarring.
With dermabrasion, the tattooed area is first numbed. Then the area of skin containing the tattoo is sanded down with a high-speed rotary device. This method tends to have unpredictable results and a less effective outcome.
Can All Ink Be Removed?
You may have heard that only black ink can be effectively removed. This was true decades ago when technology was not yet in play that could remove light colored ink. However, with advances in technology, this is no longer accurate. Now all colors can be easily removed: even yellows and greens.
Are There Needles Involved?
Though the treatment itself involves lasers and not needles, the technician will still need to use needles to deliver lidocaine into the area to numb it. This allows you to go through the treatment without pain.
What If I Just Want a Cover-Up?
Not everyone that gets laser removal does it with the intention of having the tattoo completely removed. Maybe you don’t like the tattoo but you like the placement and just want a different tattoo. Maybe you like part of the tattoo but want a different part of it, like an ex’s name, removed.
You can easily have your tattoo, or just part of it, lightened enough that you can have a tattoo artist cover it up. You won’t have to go through as many sessions in that case, either, because you don’t need the entire thing to be completely gone. You will want to discuss your intentions with your technician so you are both on the same page.
How Long Does Tattoo Removal Take?
The length of time it takes for the tattoo to completely disappear depends largely on your body and skin type. It can take as long as 18 months of treatments for the tattoo to be removed. At the beginning of the process, the technician should give you an estimate of about how many sessions they think your tattoo will need. However, this is just an estimate. Most patients need about 5 to 8 treatments. However, some people will see the results they want in as little as 3 to 4 sessions, while others will need 10 or more sessions.
There are some common factors that affect the speed of removal. Skin type can have a large impact. If the tattoo is a cover-up and includes more layering, it will need more sessions. Ink colors and the amount of ink used also have an effect. And the location on the body, of course, can also affect the time needed. If you are young and have a strong immune system, tattoo removal will probably take less time. Exercising, drinking ample water, and massaging the treated area can help speed the process along.
How Many Weeks Should I Wait Between Sessions?
It’s recommended that you wait about 6 weeks between tattoo removal sessions. This is because your body needs time to absorb the ink before the next session. Your skin is in layers, and when you get a tattoo, ink is deposited in these layers. When a tattoo is removed, it’s done layer by layer. When a laser is applied, it shatters the topmost layer of ink for the body to absorb.
It can take the body several weeks to absorb the shattered ink. If you have another laser treatment before your body absorbs and removes the shattered ink, the laser won’t be able to reach down to the next layer of skin and ink. Getting laser treatments too close together makes them far less effective.
Your immune system reacts to tattoos the moment they are placed in your skin. The process of laser tattoo removal works with the body’s natural immune system function.
The inks used for tattooing contain heavy metals: usually lead, copper, and manganese. The immune system recognizes the ink particles as foreign intruders as soon as the tattoo ink is deposited, and it sends armies of white blood cells to engulf them. The white blood cells can take the smaller ink particles to the liver to process and excrete them, but the larger particles are too big for white blood cells to manage, so they leave those alone. This is why tattoos tend to fade over time but won’t completely disappear.
The Q-Switch Laser
In order to help the immune system along in getting rid of the tattoo, lasers are used to break up the ink particles and make them small enough that white blood cells can manage them. Tattoo removal lasers are called Q-switch lasers. They send very fast, very hot pulses of energy into the tattoo. The speed and heat are crucial to the process. To effectively get a particle to shatter, you need to heat it up so that it expands due to the heat. But at the same time, the zap from the laser has to be fast enough that half of the ink particle stays cool. It’s the opposing hot and cool forces that tear the ink particle apart.
The quickness of the Q-switch laser is also what keeps the laser from harming the skin. Particles of tattoo ink are relatively small. White skin cells, in contrast, are much larger. Tattoo particles only need a trillionth of a second to heat up and explode. Skin cells, however, would require a much longer time under the laser to be damaged. Because the Q-switch laser is so fast, it can destroy the ink particles without harming the skin cells.
Tattoos come in every color on the planet. At one time, laser tattoo removal was only an effective method for black tattoos. That is no longer the case: every color in a tattoo can now be removed with lasers. However, doing so requires a little extra work.
The goal of tattoo removal is to have the ink particles absorb the energy emitted by the laser light. To do that, you need to make sure that the laser is emitting a wavelength of light that is well-absorbed by the color being treated. If the tattoo is multi-colored, this means that the technician needs to have access to a variety of laser wavelengths for versatility in treatment.
Red tattoos, and anything that is red to the eye, are red because they absorb all other colors but reflect the red light wavelength. That means that a red tattoo can’t be treated with a red wavelength. Rather, it needs to be treated with green laser light because red tattoos absorb green light well. The green laser will allow the red tattoo ink to absorb the energy and shatter. The most common wavelengths used to get rid of tattoos are 1064 nm and 532 nm. These two alone can treat over 95% of all tattoos.
Letting the Body Work
When it comes to tattoo removal with lasers, the body does most of the work. That’s why it’s so important to give your body several weeks between sessions to get rid of the tattoo, as well as take care of your body by exercising and drinking a lot of water. This will help your body to get rid of the ink.
In the first session, only the shallowest layers of tattoo ink are shattered. Lasers work like any other beam of light. If a beam of light is blocked by an object, there will be a shadow and objects that fall within this shadow will not be touched by the light. Likewise, the laser can only reach the most shallow layer of the tattoo, and the layers beyond that are effectively in the shadow of the most shallow layer. If you don’t give this layer time to be processed away, the layers beneath it cannot be reached by the laser.
As the ink particles are shattered into pieces small enough for the white blood cells of the immune system to handle, these particles are gradually moved to the lymph nodes. The body can only flush away the ink particles at a certain speed, so be patient and give your body the time it needs to do its job.
While the process of laser tattoo removal isn’t painful, there are some possible side effects you should be aware of. The treatment site may experience some degree of redness, tenderness, and swelling after a laser treatment. There may even be some blistering, bruising, or scabs. You also may experience hyperpigmentation, which is where the affected area of skin has extra pigmentation, or hypopigmentation, where the area has less pigmentation than normal.
You should care for your skin by applying a thin coating of antibiotic ointment or a moisturizer at least three times a day at first. You also will want to buy bandages to wrap the treated area and protect it from infection. If the tattoo you are having removed is in a part of the body that can be easily irritated by clothes, you may want to buy a piece of clothing that will be comfortable.
Get Rid of Your Tattoo
Tattoos are more than just ink. They turn us into pieces of living artwork. They connect us to our history and heritage. They act as a reminder for all the places we have been and all the ways in which we have changed. But sometimes, we just don’t want them anymore. Whether you want to get an ex’s name off your body or you’re embarrassed by a tattoo that no longer suits you, it’s never too late to get a clean slate. Invest in laser tattoo removal today to give yourself the fresh start you deserve. Contact Rejuvu Day Spa & Beauty Haven in West Point, UT today to learn more.