Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Laser Tattoo Removal

Chances are you’re reading this because you, like so many others, have a lousy tattoo.

One you do just about anything to hide from prying eyes. Maybe it was a drunken mistake or represents an area of your past better forgotten. It could even be from before you fully visualised the scope of skin art you now can’t imagine being without, and it’s become that blip on the canvas you’re not quite sure what to do with.

Cover-ups can work wonders for those in the latter category, and laser removal can seem like an unfeasible option for many of us regardless of where we sit.

“It’s too expensive,” or “It’s sure to hurt!” rank up there with the “Does it really work?” and “I’m just not sure about it,” arguments.

That’s why we’ve created this post - to shed some light on the finest available method of removing tattoos, courtesy of Cambridgeshire’s resident laser specialist, Dr Nathan Holt.

Are you one of the third of the population who regrets a tattoo?

Isn’t it time you do something about it?

No pain no gain?

Despite an innate curiosity of how laser tattoo removal works, many who consider lasering their unwanted ink default to the same initial query.

“Is it going to hurt?”

The pain of removing a tattoo with lasers is often likened to the pain of getting the tattoo in the first place. How did you handle it then? This should get you in the ballpark.

It’s worth remembering that, while the pain may be similar, this is a different procedure. If you had no reaction to getting the tattoo, the same is not guaranteed when lasers remove the ink (but more on that later!).

And if you’re really concerned about the pain, licenced laser specialists can apply numbing agents before the procedure. What a shame you didn’t have that luxury when you got the piece done to begin with!

How does laser tattoo removal work?

Well, it’s not magic, rocket science or a trick of the light, that’s for sure!

Firstly, no single wavelength of laser can remove every type of ink. Bypassing the science involved, this means that removing multi-coloured, complex or professional tattoos takes more than one laser.

Tattoo removal lasers are specialist pieces of equipment designed to target tattoo pigments and emit high-energy pulses which penetrate the skin and break the ink into tiny particles.

The energy from these lasers is selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink, leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected and with no lasting skin damage.

Typically, it takes multiple treatments spaced at regular intervals before that unwanted ink finally fades fully. This is because the laser removal process is merely helping your body break down the ink pigments to allow for them to be naturally flushed out by your immune system.

Ingenious, really!

Can anyone perform the procedure?

Although there are centres cropping up everywhere, it’s beyond important that you seek out a specialist dermatologist to laser your tattoo into yesterday.

Yes, that means you should turn down your mate’s offer to remove the crooked smiley face he inked on your ankle with his at-home tattoo kit. Regardless of any fancy equipment he or she might have.

Experts know the potential complications and how to mitigate risks of bleeding, infection or scarring - all of which are super easy to treat with proper care.

Trust a professional. Don’t try to erase one regret with another.

Does it leave a scar?

As these lasers target only the ink pigments in your skin, laser tattoo removal is famed for leaving no lasting skin damage.

However, there are a number of influencing factors to consider.

Firstly, even in the hands of a dedicated dermatologist, it is possible to experience redness and some scabbing post-procedure. Aftercare is as important here as it was when you got the tattoo, but when treated right, your skin will heal beautifully.

Next is the freshness or complexity of the piece you’re having removed. Elaborate works and newer tattoos, especially those professionally done with modern methods and ink, are invariably harder to remove, requiring more sessions.

More sessions equals more exposure and stress on your skin to heal. This, as you might expect, can influence scarring.

When you trust your treatment to a laser specialist, as with any procedure, you give yourself the greatest chance of a desirable, scar-free result.

What are the alternatives?

We’ve already touched on cover-ups (if you’re still hell-bent on the ink-me-up train) but that’s hardly a solution for everyone.

Sadly, while there are plenty of alternate tattoo removal routes you could consider, none boast anywhere near the degree of safety or success as trusting the job to a laser.

Even the best removal creams fail to fully remove tattoos, merely reducing the appearance in some cases. Besides, we have enough chemicals in our lives, don’t you think?

Laser tattoo removal is the only viable method which doesn’t result in dramatic scarring or infection. So no, don’t believe the charlatan peddling acid tattoo removal or a new miracle cream.

An option for everyone?

Simply put, no.

If you had a bad reaction when getting the tattoo, laser removal is an awful idea which can incite a body-wide systemic reaction. The last thing anyone wants is anaphylaxis.

Bad news for those with darker skin tones, too, I’m afraid. Tattoo removal lasers can also target melanin in the skin, which can put you at risk of burns and hyperpigmentation.

Those who suffer from allergies could also experience roadblocks on this path.

All this and more is why you should seek a consultation with an expert before making any rash decisions.

How easy are tattoos to remove?

As we’ve mentioned, there is a wide variety of challenge involved in removing tattoos with lasers.

Older and amateur tattoos tend to be the easiest due to the age or quality of the ink and skill with which the tattoo was created. Older or carbon-based ink is far less tenacious than modern varieties, and tattooists and their guns are only getting better.

Understandably, enormous back pieces are going to be tougher than a wonky heart on your wrist.

In terms of colours, black and white ink gives in easier than any other, with greens and blues posing more challenge, and yellows and purple being almost impossible to completely do away with.

Is it expensive?

Price is going to vary depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo you want removing.

Cambridge Laser Clinic set their prices for tattoo removal at one of the fairest rates on the market for high-quality professional treatments, so you can use that as a baseline for comparison if you’re looking for laser tattoo removal in your area.

Remember, if you find an outfit offering cheaper services, always be sure to check on their credentials, experience and track record for success before you go ahead.

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