Tattoo Removal: Does It Work?
Although laser tattoo removal technology has been around for over a decade, people still regularly ask – does tattoo removal work? It’s understandable that there are questions in the public’s mind about the effectiveness of tattoo removal. While the service is growing rapidly, it’s been estimated that 17% of the population with tattoos have tattoo regret, but only a small portion of them have actually been through the process of having a tattoo removed.
Experts agree that the most effective method for tattoo removal is with a laser where applicable speed and light wavelengths are determined by a multitude of factors including the patient’s skin tone and the colors of the tattoo being removed. In all cases where tattoo removal is possible, it takes multiple treatments to remove a tattoo. Each treatment must be spaced at least 6 weeks apart in order to ensure sufficient healing time. Generally, the minimum number of treatments to remove a tattoo is around 5, but the average number of treatments is closer to 10. Some tattoos take 13 or 14 treatments. That means it may take up to, or well over, a year or two to completely remove a tattoo. Patients will see varying results after one or two treatments. Some notice a significant difference, while others will need to wait longer before fading begins to occur.
Tattoo removal works extremely effectively on most people, but there are some exceptions. Given the way the laser does its job, some skin tones are more optimal for tattoo removal. The lighter a person’s skin, the more aggressive the laser settings can be, setting the patient up for more success usually in a shorter period of time. Patients will darker skin may face greater challenges having their ink removed entirely. That’s because the clinician must treat the patient more conservatively, to preserve the melanin in their skin. Using an inappropriately high laser setting on someone with darker skin can change their skin tone, which is why it is always recommended that you visit a clinic that specializes in tattoo removal (as opposed to a medical office that offers it, but doesn’t focus on it).
Generally, patients with very light skin are great candidates for tattoo removal. Patients will darker skin can also be successful. There are a small percentage of people for whom laser tattoo removal is not possible and they tend to be those with the darkest of skin tones. Any reputable provider should be straightforward and honest about your chances for success with tattoo removal.
Besides skin tone, the other factor that will influence whether tattoo removal will work, are the colors of ink that make up your tattoo. All tattoo ink colors can be removed, but occasionally a faint residue of ink may remain even all treatments have been completed. This is usually more visible to the patient than it is to others. It may look like a couple of freckles, natural skin variation, a light birthmark or in most cases, it may not be noticeable to others at all. However, it’s something you will want to address before starting the process.
Understanding how your unique individual factors will affect the success of your tattoo removal is critical when evaluating your options. Tattoo removal is a commitment and a process, so make sure you have some idea of what the rewards are at the end of your journey. The majority of patients are very happy with their results.
In all cases, we recommend scheduling a consultation to have your tattoo looked at by a medical professional. Most clinics will provide a consultation free-of-charge. During your appointment, a qualified clinician will look at your skin type and the colors in your tattoo in order to provide you with an idea of what to expect from your tattoo removal.
We have included some before and after pictures here, but to view more results of patient tattoo removals, browse our gallery before and after photos.