….before you have Laser Tattoo Removal
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and rid your arm/back/neck/leg of that pesky tattoo that’s been bugging you ever since you realised you weren’t totally in love with it. In this beautiful age where nothing is ever truly permanent you now have the ability to ‘turn back the clock’, however, there are some things to think about.
Just like most other industries, the tattoo removal industry includes different clinics that vary in quality and safety. So before you dive into your tattoo removal journey here are my top tips on ensuring the road isn’t a bumpy one.
- Check the reviews and ask to view previous client photos
You wouldn’t buy a car without first checking the reviews and taking it for a test drive. The same principle applies to tattoo removal. When performed by a qualified technician, tattoo removal is very safe, however, each patient is different and this will effect the outcome and timeline of the removal process. Be sure to ask your technician lots of questions about your skin type, the potential side effects that this may cause, and how your healing process is likely to transpire. The answers to these questions will give you a realistic expectation of the tattoo removal journey and minimise any surprises!
It is also a good idea to ask to see some before and after photos of previous clients. This will allow you to get a sense of the quality of tattoo removal that the clinic has been providing and whether their results are promising or not.
- Make your expectations transparent
Asking lots of questions isn’t the only thing you should be doing – good communication is a two-way street! It is important that you communicate to your expectations to your technician so that they can let you know if they are realistic or not. Any good tattoo removalist will tell you that no tattoo removal is guaranteed, however they will be able to tell you about your likely outcome depending on your tattoo, skin type, location and ink colour.
- Understand the timeline
The location of your tattoo is a very important factor in tattoo removal. The further away the tattoo is from heart (and strong circulation) the longer it may take for a tattoo to fade. The stronger the circulation, the better the results will be.
- Ensure that your clinic is using the correct type of laser
Have a lot of colour in your tattoo? You must make sure that your technician has the laser equipment to cater for your specific colours! No single laser has the ability to remove all types and colours of tattoos so ensure that your technician has the correct laser to remove all the different pigments in your specific tattoo.
- Realise that tattoo removal is a journey and not a one-time treatment
As much as we wish they would, tattoos don’t have a tendency to disappear like magic. Tattoo removal is a journey and multiple treatments will be required. It is impossible to determine the exact number of treatments that an individual requires, however, your technician will be able to give you a rough estimate.
Qualified technicians will also stress the importance of intervals between sessions (6-8 weeks) to allow your body to heal. Although this does extend the time frame of your tattoo removal, it allows for your skin to heal and minimises the possibility of side effects.
- Professional vs Amateur Tattoos
There is quite a big difference between professional and amateur tattoos. Professional tattoos usually penetrate deeper into the skin at an even level which make the overall tattoo more uniform and therefore easier to treat. Some inks used by different tattoo parlours may be denser though which can make removal more difficult. Amateur tattoos are often done with an uneven hand, making some areas deeper and some lighter. There may also be unknown products in the ink which may add to the challenge of removal, however, overall amateur tattoos are easier to remove.
- Post treatment symptoms
There are a few symptoms that are common post treatment. As with many medical treatments, they are normal and will usually subside within one to two weeks but it is good to be aware of the symptoms so that you are free from any surprises!
Common symptoms include:
- Raising of the tattoo
- Pinpoint bleeding
- Temporary darkening
- Side effects
Just like most disclaimers on any type of medication, laser tattoo removal also comes with a disclaimer of potential side effects. Also similar to medication, the potential side effects aren’t common but it is good to be aware of them. One side effect is the possibility of hyper (darkening) or hypo (lightening) pigmentation of the skin (this usually corrects itself from six to twelve months later). Other potential side effects include keloid scarring, infection, burns and textural changes of the skin (Unblemished has a clean reputation regarding these side effects). If concerned, you should contact your technician and/or your GP.
- Darkening of the tattoo
Some inks and colours in tattoos (including white inks) have the possibility of darkening or oxidising immediately after laser treatment as the ink may contain titanium dioxide. This can be corrected with future treatments, however, you should consult with your technician about this possibility before treatment starts.
- Your skin colour and how this can effect your treatment
It is so important that your technician addresses your skin tone and what effect this may have. People with darker skin tones can still have a tattoo removed however, hypo-pigmentation may occur from the use of the laser which results in the loss of pigmentation of the skin. Good technicians should always do a patch test to minimise the risk.