Things That Can Influence the Success with Laser Tattoo Removal

in Avon, Connecticut

Hi Everyone, It’s Patty Ferguson, RN, BSN again, here to discuss some of the general points of laser tattoo removal, along with a few tips, which may help to make the treatment more successful.

Laser tattoo removal works by using selective photothermolysis.  This is the same method used in laser hair removal, along with several other types of laser treatments.  In a nutshell, what that means is that you are targeting a specific area (selective) to treat with light (photo) that creates heat (thermo), which then causes destruction (lysis).  That is the mechanism of how the laser works, but then the body needs to take over to do its part to finish the process.

A tattoo actually starts to break down from the moment you first get it.  The lymphatic system of the body recognizes the tattoo ink as being foreign and tries to eliminate it.  This is why a tattoo will fade over time.  Direct and frequent sunlight can also break down the ink, causing them to fade.  Unfortunately, most of the ink particles are too big for our body to handle the job on its own, therefore they won’t completely go away.  This is where you are going to need the laser to step in to help the process along.

Not all tattoos are created equal, and therefore each person can expect a different result.  First and most important, tattoo ink is not regulated.  Some shops may use ink purchased from manufacturers within the industry, while others may mix their own.  Black ink is typically the easiest color to remove opposed to more vibrant colors.  The next component that is also important for the efficacy of your treatment is if the tattoo was done professionally or by an amateur.  The professional tattoo usually penetrates the skin more deeply, is distributed more uniformly, and saturated with more ink in comparison to an amateur tattoo, which is typically not applied as deep, they are often less even, and done with less ink.  This is important because each laser treatment destroys and removes the pigment closest to the skin surface and continues to penetrate deeper with each consecutive treatment.  It is also contingent on the amount of ink that needs to be broken up.  Often time’s amateur tattoos remove more easily because of these factors.  Older tattoos also remove a little more easily because as we previously stated, your body has already had a head start in naturally breaking them down.  Once the laser has done its part by breaking the tattoo into smaller particles, then it is up to the body to take over.  The white blood cells send the broken down and smaller ink particles through the lymphatic channels to the liver where it is recognized, and eliminated as waste.  However, some may also be eliminated through sweat or urine.  This is why we need to wait approximately 8 weeks between treatments to give the body time to handle this process.

     The last components that can help determine the success of laser tattoo removal is placement of the tattoo and a person’s skin Fitzpatrick.  The more vascular an area is, the more it will typically respond with greater success such as the face and scalp, opposed to the ankles, feet, and toes.  Darker skin tones can also interfere with the laser hitting the pigment of the tattoo making the treatment more challenging for success.

     There are a few things that we can do to stay healthy overall, which in turn can also help our immune system to eliminate the tattoo ink a little more successfully:

  • Drink plenty of water to flush the system
  • Exercise for increased circulation
  • Wear UVA/UVB sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, skin texture changes, and weakening of the skin
  • Do not tan to allow the laser to target the pigment of the ink more efficiently, and not the surrounding tanned skin
  • Quit smoking so blood vessels won’t constrict allowing for better elimination and healing
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