Laser Removal: Everything You Need To Know About the Procedure

Laser removal procedure

Are you familiar with laser removal procedures? Did you know that laser removal is one of the most popular tattoo removal operations? Individuals who are unfamiliar with the process will naturally have questions and even some reservations. Others may be considering tattoo removal, yet remain unsure as to whether or not laser removal is the best option for them.

In actuality, there are a variety of reasons why someone may seek out a laser removal procedure. Of course, one of the leading causes is regret. Nearly 25 percent of tattooed individuals in the United States end up regretting one (or more) of their tattoos. Thankfully, if you find yourself in this situation, laser removal is an available and fairly safe operation to consider.

About Laser Removal

man having laser tatto removal

Before you embark on the journey to remove something you once thought was a good decision, you have some other choices to make, first. Can you afford laser tattoo removal? What are the benefits and risks? Will it leave a scar? There are far too many questions to make up your mind without doing some good old fashioned research.

Price Range of Laser Removal Procedures

Operation prices will inevitably vary according to the state of residence, type of tattoo, number of required procedures, the expertise of the surgeon, and other factors. However, general fees associated with this procedure generally range between $200 and $500 per session. Since you'll need multiple sessions to entirely remove a tattoo, the total fee can land between $1,000 and $10,000.

The size, color, and location of the tattoo are also critical factors which will affect the removal process. Larger, newer, and colorful tattoos will take longer to laser off than their smaller, older, and simpler counterparts.

The Procedure is inherently difficult

Tattoo removal, even via laser, is an inherently complex operation. For starters, tattoos are literally designed to serve as permanent markings within one's skin. When getting tattoos, mechanic needles insert ink into the second layer of the skin, also known as the dermis. The reason tattoos remain after the body heals is because the amount of ink outweighs the human body's white blood cells which naturally attempt to absorb the ink. When using a laser to remove a tattoo, the laser has to focus on segments of the ink and subsequently divide the ink's particles. Once this is done, the human body's white blood cells are then able to absorb the remaining particles.

On the surface, this clinical operation may seem fairly simple. In actuality, laser tattoo removal is quite involved and difficult. The high energy of the light can only do so much in one sitting. People who are not familiar with the procedure may believe that the laser can remove their tattoo in a few hours. However, laser tattoo removal operations are rarely completed in one successful session. Ultimately, there is no way one can predict how many sessions they will need to get a tattoo removed. Nevertheless, counting on multiple sittings is a wise decision for any patient.

The Color Of The Tattoo (And Skin) Is A Sizable Factor

The color(s) of the tattoo and skin complexion of the tattooed individual are direct factors which will impact the removal process. Black ink and other dark pigments are easier for the laser to dissect and absorb. Conversely, lighter ink colors, particularly white, will require much more time to break down. This is largely because lighter colors are reflective and have a tendency to cause the light of the laser to bounce off. The successful removal of blacklight or UV tattoos (despite the rarity of these tattoos) may be virtually impossible due to high levels of fluorescence, reflectiveness, and light.

Similarly to tattoo ink color, the individual's skin color also plays a role in the removal procedure. Those with fairer skin are likelier to have an easier time with tattoo removal, due to the color contrast between their skin and the tattoo ink. For darker complexions, specialists have to ensure that they don't remove the client's natural skin pigment in addition to their undesired tattoo. Unfortunately, laser technology is unable to tell the difference. Since milder laser powers work better on darker skin, the number of sessions and subsequent healing time can take longer.

The Location Of The Tattoo Makes A Big Difference

Similar to tattoo ink and skin color, the location of one's tattoo also plays a critical role in the removal process. Blood circulation impacts the longevity of a tattoo; this is why many people have to get tattoos filled in after years, due to shading. Blood circulation also affects the laser tattoo removal process. Just as the circulation of blood impacts whether a tattoo fades with time, it also affects the ease in which a laser can divide ink particles and allow for white blood cells to absorb what remains.

Tattoos on the arms, wrists, legs, ankles, and feet are most challenging to remove. These inked areas are also likelier to require more sessions. The blood circulation, or lack thereof, determines the number of white blood cells in the area which can absorb lasered particles. Due to higher numbers of laser procedures, the healing time for the areas as mentioned above will also take longer.

Tattoos located on the torso are easiest to remove, due to greater blood circulation and subsequent white blood cells.

The Age Of The Tattoo Is Another Critical Factor

The amount of time since getting a tattoo will directly impact the removal process. Older tattoos are easier to remove. Innate workings of the body are responsible for this; as time passes, the body has a tendency to gradually remove minute particles of tattoo ink (hence why many people get shaded tattoos re-filled). Therefore, the body has already assisted the laser technology, thus simplifying the process of removing the tattoo.

Newer tattoos, however, do not have the foregoing luxury of bodily assistance. Therefore, the removal of fresher ink will require more sessions (and money). The more sessions an individual undergoes, the more time their body needs to heal.

Pain levels can vary

Laser Tattoo Removal

"How painful will it be," is one of the most common questions associated with laser tattoo removal. The truth of the matter is that there is no one answer. Each individual has their own levels of pain tolerance. What hurts for one person may only serve as a mild annoyance to the other. Some individuals who have had tattoos removed compared the pain levels with those of getting a tattoo.

The amount of ink and the location of the tattoo are also factors which will impact pain levels. Furthermore, the lasers used in tattoo removal procedures are very very hot. Individuals undergoing this operation should, at the very least, expect various degrees of discomfort. In extreme cases, patients may have the options of requesting anesthesia.

Can you ink over a laser-removed tattoo?

The desire to get a new tattoo in a certain area is one of the most common reasons behind tattoo removal. However, anyone who undergoes laser removal is strongly advised to allow the area to fully heal before getting new ink. The operation of laser tattoo removal is highly traumatic to the body; using a bright, hot laser on the skin and breaking up particles disrupts the innate makeup of the skin. Healing is important for the flesh to return to its original state. Blistering, scarring and other types of disfiguration are likelier to occur if one does not allow their skin to heal.

Allowing particles from old tattoos to gradually work their way out of the body is another reason to let lasered skin heal. Believe it or not, it takes time for white blood cells to absorb ink particles. Getting a new tattoo while old ink particles remain can be very problematic and prompt undesirable reactions. If you have questions regarding specific waiting or healing times, consult the physician who performed your operation.

Scarring is a risk

Laser Tattoo Removal

Despite the best intentions and actions of the specialist and client, scarring is an inherent risk of laser tattoo removal. As previously stated, using a laser on the skin to divide ink particles is highly traumatic and disruptive to the body. Everyone heals in their own way and in their own time. Some people experience scarring, while others do not.

While there is no way to guarantee the prevention of scarring, you can take steps to decrease the likelihood of scarring. This means caring for the area after a laser procedure and following the instructions of one's doctor. Each patient will receive aftercare tips to maximize the smoothness of the healing process. Nevertheless, there are no guarantees. The risks of scarring are something that you should be aware of, prior to signing up for a laser removal operation.

You should never get a tattoo on scarred skin. For starters, some tattoo artists may not even agree to work on the area. Even if you manage to find one who will, getting a tattoo on scarred flesh can be excruciatingly painful. Furthermore, the scarring is likely to impact the healing process of the new tattoo and settling of the ink.

Reasons for laser removal

It goes without saying that people undergo laser tattoo removal operations for different reasons. Some individuals simply tire of their tattoos or wish to replace them. Others may have employment opportunities which disallow tattoos. Ink allergies, the depreciation of a tattoo's quality, etc are other motivating factors behind laser removal. Regardless of the reason, it's important for each individual to be as aware and informed as possible before having such a serious clinical procedure.

Being certain is very important

Regret is a terrible emotion to live with. For this reason, being absolutely certain that you want a laser tattoo removal operation is paramount. Similarly to getting a tattoo, removing a tattoo is an extensive commitment. It involves the investment of time, money, and resources. Furthermore, anyone who undergoes a laser removal operation is at an inherent risk of experiencing crusting, scarring, and bruising. Healing periods can vary and skin pigmentation sometimes becomes lighter or darker on certain occasions. Be completely sure that this is what you truly want. There is no turning back.

Insurance is unlikely to cover laser tattoo removal operations

Laser Tattoo Removal

While each insurance company has their own mandates and stipulations, fees associated with tattoo removal are unlikely to qualify for coverage. Therefore, many doctors and clinics may require upfront payment prior to performing any operations. Having a clear budget and getting everything in writing are very important initial steps.

Moreover, you should do your own research on multiple clinics. Read online reviews, watch online testimonials, and hear from people who have gone to the places which you're considering. Each clinic will attempt to sell you and have you open your checkbook. Conducting the research and making the best decision is ultimately up to you.

Is Laser Removal the Best Option for You?

Roughly 30 percent of people in the United States have at least one tattoo. 25 percent of tattooed individuals end up regretting at least one of their tattoos. If you happen to fall into the 25 percent, nobody can tell you which option is best. According to the Fresh Start Laser Clinic, 11 percent of Americans underwent tattoo removal procedures between 2016 and 2017. The average costs for said procedures amounted to an average of $1,400 per patient.

No matter what decision you make, be sure to have the proper information. Know the risks. Know the statistics. Never be afraid to ask questions.

Have you undergone a laser tattoo removal operation? Do you know someone who has? Please let us know in the comments down below!

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