Tattoos have existed for over 5,000 years, and as long as there have been tattoos, there’s been tattoo regret. Many people have a tattoo they’ve come to regret over time. Maybe it’s the name of your ex-boyfriend written in curly letters across your ribs. Maybe it’s a cartoon character you thought was cute at 16 but doesn’t quite match your professional lifestyle or interests today. Whatever the reason for wanting your tattoo removed, laser tattoo removal is the most efficient method of safely and permanently removing tattoos. This service is proudly offered by Rattinan Clinic in Bangkok, TH.
What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
Laser tattoo removal uses a high-energy, concentrated light beam to break down the ink in your skin with short, quick blasts. As the ink pigment molecules become smaller and smaller, your white blood cells remove them from your body, fading the appearance of your tattoo over the course of your treatment and, with proper technique, leaving no trace of your former tattoo.
How Your White Blood Cells Help Remove Your Tattoo
As a foreign substance, your tattoo has been targeted for removal by your body from day one. However, the ink molecules injected into your skin during the tattooing process are much larger than your white blood cells, which means it’s nearly impossible for your body to attack your tattoo in the way it attacks and expels other foreign substances. The natural process of breaking down the ink pigment is extremely slow. That’s why you’ll see your tattoo fade over time, but never fully disappear. If you dislike your tattoo, waiting for your body to fade your tattoo over many years just isn’t an option.
Once laser technology was introduced as a tattoo removal method, the process of getting rid of the embarrassing result of a bad decision became much easier. The laser hits ink molecules with high-power blasts of heat energy, which breaks them down into much smaller pieces. Over a typical treatment plan, your white blood cells do most of the work as they remove those smaller particles from your body, fading the tattoo until it’s completely gone.
New Technology, Better Results
In the past, lasers could most efficiently target dark-pigmented tattoos, making the removal of colors—especially yellow and green—extremely difficult. These lighter colors would often remain even after treatment was complete, and most people simply chose to cover the leftover lighter colors of their old tattoo with a new one to mask the discoloration. However, today’s technology has advanced far enough to offer a wide range of light frequencies to effectively target every ink color and result in total tattoo removal.
This means that if you want to fade your tattoo just enough to cover it with a newer, better option, you can do so in a few sessions. However, if you want to remove your tattoo completely, there are a variety of professional-grade lasers that can break down every ink color, leaving your skin free of residual ink and giving you a fresh new start.
This process is safe and, when performed properly by a trained, experienced professional, comes with a low risk of side effects. Individual results will vary, but most patients experience a highly satisfying outcome as they watch their tattoo disappear before their eyes. This method of tattoo removal is much more friendly to your skin and body than previous methods, which included harsh dermabrasion and chemical peels aimed at stripping away the pigment from the layers of your skin and, in rare cases, surgery to remove the tattoo.
With the range of lasers and frequencies available, this treatment is safe for almost every patient, regardless of skin type or color. In addition, it can remove almost every tattoo from any part of your body. Most patients describe treatment as no more painful than their initial tattooing session, and your doctor can ensure your optimal comfort with anesthetic cream or local anesthetic for sensitive areas. Best of all, you’ll finally be able to say goodbye to your old tattoo and never have to see it in the mirror again.
How Does It Work?
While this process is fairly straightforward, it’s extremely important to follow the instructions of your doctor at every stage of the treatment. Most negative side effects occur due to insufficient at-home care during the recovery period, so it’s crucial to protect your skin as it heals. Best results are seen when you commit to a personalized treatment plan proposed by your doctor, take care of your skin as it recovers after each treatment, and follow through to the end of your plan. You should feel free to ask your doctor any questions you may have at any point during this process.
The first step in ridding yourself of your unwanted tattoo is a consultation with your doctor. This appointment allows your doctor to see your tattoo in person, which helps them suggest a realistic treatment plan and give a general time frame for how long fading will take. It also allows you to ask any questions you may have and share your ideal results, which could be complete removal or partial removal if you plan to cover your old tattoo with a new one. If your doctor determines that you’re an ideal candidate, they’ll approve you for treatment.
During this appointment, your doctor will explain how laser tattoo removal works and give you an idea of what to expect during the treatments and recovery stages. They’ll most likely ask you about any skin sensitivity issues and whether you’ve attempted tattoo removal before. Finally, they’ll give you instructions to follow as you prepare for your first treatment.
When preparing for your first treatment, it’s important to remember that your highest priority is protecting your skin from unnecessary irritation. This can come in many forms–waxing, exfoliation, sun exposure–and can make treatment and recovery more painful. You should stop waxing, plucking, and shaving your hair in the target area about 4-5 days before treatment. Avoid using exfoliants in the target area for about 1 week before treatment. Stop taking blood-thinning medications like aspirin and some herbal remedies, which can cause excessive bruising, about 1 week before your first appointment.
If you’re a regular smoker, you may want to consider stopping before treatment. Nicotine can impede your body’s natural healing processes. Your doctor can tell you more about the benefits of quitting smoking for your overall wellness. In addition, you should protect your skin by applying sunscreen every day and avoiding exposing your target area to the sun. Harmful sun exposure is responsible for over 90% of common skin concerns–including dark spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer–and getting a sunburn or tanning–including spray tanning–before your appointment is not advised.
On the day of your appointment, wash the target area with a mild cleanser and avoid putting any product on your skin, including makeup or cream. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing which won’t rub or irritate your target area. Your doctor will examine your target area and ensure that your skin looks healthy before preparing you for treatment. If necessary, your doctor can apply a topical anesthetic cream or use a local anesthetic to numb the area. Most patients don’t require this step and report that the sensation of the laser feels like the snap of a rubber band against the skin.
Your doctor will activate the laser and treat the target area. You will probably feel some heat from the laser as your doctor works. A typical appointment takes 15-20 minutes, but your appointment time will vary based largely on the size of your tattoo. Once your doctor has completed treatment, they’ll apply an ointment and bandage the area. Finally, you’ll receive your aftercare instructions before you’re able to return to your normal daily routine.
During the first 24-48 hours, the treated area will feel tender. Your doctor may recommend taking mild painkillers or icing the area to ease any discomfort. Your doctor will tell you when to remove the bandage–most doctors recommend waiting 2-3 days–and how to care for the area. This often involves gently washing the area with water and mild soap and routinely applying antibiotic ointment, along with a very thin layer of Aquaphor or hydrocortisone cream. Be careful not to smother the area with a thick layer of creams, which can increase your risk of infection.
Avoid applying any additional creams or lotions to the area for the first few days. You may notice some mild blistering–this can be a side effect of the laser, and you should let your doctor know and avoid disturbing the area. It’s normal to see the treated area begin to form a scab over the first few days, which is part of the healing process. Don’t pick the scab, which can lead to scarring and infection, and wait for it to fall off naturally in about 2 weeks. For the next 6 weeks, your body will be working hard to remove the ink particles, and you should notice your tattoo fading over time.
The normal time between treatments is 6-8 weeks, which is the average length of time it takes your body to remove the broken-down ink particles. After your final laser tattoo removal appointment, your recovery period of 2 weeks is followed by at least 6 weeks of your body expelling the last of the ink. Once this time has passed, the area should be permanently tattoo-free. Your skin should be smooth and have no noticeable trace of your old tattoo.
Commonly Asked Questions
Here are a few questions you still might have if you’re considering laser tattoo removal. Your doctor can discuss these questions in the context of your unique situation during your initial consultation.
How Long Does It Take?
The length of your personalized treatment plan depends on a few factors. First, the size of your tattoo–does it cover your entire arm or back? If so, removal will take longer. The age of the tattoo also affects the length of the removal process. Older tattoos are more faded and require fewer sessions. In general, it’s best to complete the laser removal process slowly, with at least 6 weeks between appointments, to allow your skin to heal and reduce the risk of scarring or hyperpigmentation. Your doctor can give you an estimate of how long your entire removal process could take during your initial consultation.
Does Location Matter?
While laser tattoo removal can effectively remove tattoos from any part of your body, the location of your tattoo could affect the length of your treatment plan. Tattoos closer to the heart and blood supply are broken down more quickly than tattoos on extremities like fingers, feet, and wrists. Typically the further your tattoo is from your heart, the longer your white blood cells will take to remove ink particles.
Can You Re-Tattoo?
If you want a fresh canvas for a brand-new idea, you’re in luck–you can get a new tattoo in an area treated by laser as long as the skin is healed completely. Issues like scarring, which can occur if you pick at healing scabs or experience infection due to improper care of the treated area during recovery, can affect the way your new tattoo will appear. It’s important to set yourself up for success by focusing on taking care of your skin as it heals to ensure that it remains healthy and ready for another tattoo.
Am I an Ideal Candidate?
Out of the many options for tattoo removal, laser removal is the safest and most effective option. It’s perfect for almost everyone who regrets getting a certain tattoo and wants to see it permanently removed. If you’re considering this process, you should be prepared to commit to a treatment plan designed for you, which could take several months, depending on the size, location, and age of your tattoo. You should also be willing to care for your skin according to your doctor’s instructions for the entirety of this process.
Since treatment takes a period of time to complete, those who have a tattoo in a noticeable area may want to schedule their treatments accordingly. Similarly, cosmetic additions such as eyebrow tattoos, lip liner, and eyeliner may become darker before fading during treatment–patients are normally asked to determine the best time to schedule removal to avoid any significant life or social events. There is a higher risk of hyperpigmentation for patients with darker skin, which is not permanent and normally resolves between 6-12 months. Finally, it’s recommended to wait to pursue treatment if you are pregnant.
We all make mistakes, but it’s a little more embarrassing when we wear our mistakes on our skin for all to see. Tattoos can be an exciting, inspiring art form or a source of frustration and regret. If you spend your days explaining an unfortunate tattoo to new friends or partners or wishing that you could go back in time and tell your younger self to walk right past that tattoo shop, it might be time to consider laser tattoo removal. This treatment can safely remove your tattoo over time. With the proper aftercare, your skin will return to its original appearance.
Once your old tattoo is gone, you’ll be able to focus on the more important things in life–whether it’s a new lifestyle without a reminder of your past or a newer, better tattoo in the same location. If you’re ready to learn more, contact the professionals at Rattinan Clinic in Bangkok, TH, to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to serving you!