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10 Things to Know Before Starting Laser Tattoo Removal

Around a fifth of all British adults are inked. And the rate of those with some tattoo regret is relatively high. Thankfully, nowadays, anyone can get rid of the tats that are embarrassing, out-to-date, or simply annoying.

Laser tattoo removal is the most effective method of eliminating the ink. The laser breaks up the pigment with a high-intense light beam.

However, there are a few important things that you should consider before saying ‘yes’ to such a treatment.

1.    Set Your Expectations Right

Make sure to ask your laser treatment expert all the questions that you might have before the procedure.

Here are the main things that you should bear in mind:

  • The result is not guaranteed

Yes, the tattoo might get removed completely. But sometimes the treatment can’t get rid of the pigment entirely, leaving behind a ghost image.

  • It will be more challenging to remove a tattoo from areas with poorer circulation

Tattoos located on the feet and hands might require more time to fade, while the areas of the body with good blood circulation will respond to the treatment a bit better.

  • It’s harder to remove certain colours

In recent years, laser tattoo technology has improved a lot. There are new lasers that operate at different wavelengths and treat various colours.

However, orange, pink, and light greens and blues remain the most difficult ones to remove.

  • There will be scars if your tattoo already features scarring

The tattoo artist might have left some scars on your body when applying the tattoo. So, those can become more vivid, once the laser removes the pigment.

2.    It Will Take Some Time

The tattoo won’t get removed on the first session. Yes, the lasers can deliver a visible result, but it usually takes anywhere between 5 and 10 treatments to fully remove the ink (sometimes longer).

It can take a few months to make the ‘simplest’ tattoos disappear, while some pieces will get fully removed only in a year or two.

Bear in mind that you would have to wait 6-8 weeks between your treatments. This is done to give the body enough time to remove the ink and heal.

3.    Tattoo Removal Might Cost More Than the Actual Tattoo

The cost of the treatment will depend on the location of the tattoo, its size, and the number of sessions.

The prices range from £40-250 per session and can reach over £1000 for the whole course.

4.    Cut Back on Smoking

Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if you manage to stop smoking at least for the duration of the treatment, the course is going to be more effective.

Nicotine slows down the body’s healing processes and increases the risk of infection. It is a vasoconstrictor that reduces the blood flow to the skin and raises the risk of tissue ischemia.

5.    Eat and Drink Water Before the Appointment

A delicious meal won’t affect the quality of the removal. However, if you come to the treatment dehydrated or with an empty stomach, it might be more difficult for you to get through the procedure.

Remember that there will be mild discomfort involved during and after the session. One procedure can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour (or slightly more) – not too long, but no one wants you to faint from hunger.

6.    Take the Right Pain Medication

Before the session, you can take paracetamol, if you are sensitive to pain. Do not take ibuprofen or aspirin as these medications increase the likelihood of the development of bruises.

During the procedure, the laser treatment expert can offer to apply a cold compress or chilled air. Some clinics also use numbing creams.

7.    Dress Smart

Do not wear anything tight or uncomfortable to the treatment. Opt for loose-fitting clothes that are not going to scratch your skin after the procedure.

The area might feel as if it had been sunburned; the right clothing will help you avoid additional discomfort.

8.    Don’t Use Any Cosmetics on the Area That Will Be Treated

The area that you want to treat must be clean and shaved. Ideally, you should be freshly showered with clean skin without any lotions and even fragrances.

Discontinue the use of any self-tanning products at least 2 weeks before the treatment. You should also not use any products that can cause photosensitivity (benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and so on) for 3 days prior to the session.

9.    Be Aware of the Potential Side Effects

Lightening or darkening of the skin is a potential side effect that can go away in 6-12 months.

The colours that contain white ink can darken immediately after the session. At times, you are going to need additional treatments to get rid of the darkening.

When it comes to hyperpigmentation, people with dark skin are at a higher risk. The laser might remove the skin’s pigment together with the ink.

Burns, textural changes, infection, and keloid scarring – these are the things that your specialist should warn you about.

Right after the treatment, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Blisters (can appear within 24 hours)
  • ‘Raising’ of the tattoo
  • Temporary darkening
  • Redness
  • Bleeding
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising

You must make sure that you care properly for blisters and don’t pick the scabs as this might cause scarring. Bear in mind that they may take up to a week to heal.

Avoid treatment while taking antibiotics or if you have just finished a course of medication. In any case, be honest about your medical history and keep the laser treatment expert updated.

10.    Know What To Avoid After the Session

You should not expose the treated area to the sun. So, you might have to cover it with sunscreen for quite a few months.

Moreover, it is not recommended to sunbathe at least 4 weeks before the treatment as a tan increases the likelihood of various pigment changes.

Do not use any abrasive treatments on the area (like scrubs, for example). Also, avoid hair removal treatments and chemical epilation as they can delay the healing.