Before you start removing your tattoo

There are several different brands and technology lasers on the market today.  The latest is the new Pico technology. It has more energy with short pulse bursts and is much more skin sparing than the older Nano technology.   The key differences today amongst the PICO lasers is the amount of energy they can produce and how many wavelength settings it can use. Some lasers work just on blues and greens, some on just red and black and others have all the wavelength settings to remove all colors.

There is no thermal energy coming from the laser, so it cannot burn you or the ink out. The PICO lasers of today use light and sound waves to break up the ink into small particles that can be consumed by the body.

Amateur done tattoos usually come out quicker due to the fact that professional tattoo ink is rarely used and the person putting in the ink usually does not have professional training. Most homemade tattoos do not contain the heavy ink density of a professionally done tattoo.

Depending upon the type of substance used greatly effects whether or not a laser can remove them. Substances like soot and ash (primarily jail tattoos) can be removed as well as art ink like India ink. Other substances like permanent makeup ink and any substance that has heavy metals in them are harder to remove.

General Tattoo Removal Questions

The location of the tattoo on the body, does in fact affect how quickly the ink will clear the skin. More vascularized area, like the head and neck will clear the broken ink particles much quicker than say a tattoo on a foot that is far away from the heart. The closer to the heart and above the heart the quicker the clearance. Due to longer circulation routes and gravity, tattoos at the ends of extremities can take a bit longer to clear.

In short, yes, the procedure is uncomfortable but fast. People have different descriptions of what it feels like when they are having it done. Some say it feels like large rubber bands snapping their skin, other says it feels like needles or electricity.

The most effective way to reduce the pain is with the use of cold ice packs applied to the area. Apply the ice packs directly to the area for approx. 5-10 minutes, making sure not to frost bite you skin. This cooling of the skin will decrease the discomfort by about 50%. Many people have tried numbing creams but they report that there is not much of a decrease in the discomfort. So, we recommend icing prior to the session, in fact, wear the ice pack into the room to ensure that the area is still cool.

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Many of today’s lasers fire at very fast rates so covering the total area of the tattoo is very quick. For example, our PICO4 laser fires 10 times per second, so as fast as you can move the wand it is hitting all of the ink in its path. A credit card size tattoo on average takes about 7 seconds to complete. The larger the tattoo, the more time is required to cover the area.

Most average tattoos, with an average amount of ink, will be removed within 6-9 sessions.  So, tattoos that have less ink density will come off sooner, like amateur tattoos. Professionally done tattoos that are heavy with ink or where cover ups have been done will take more sessions.

The discomfort from the procedure ends as soon as the session is over. Some people report no discomfort after the session while others say it feels like a slight sunburn for a day or so. Itching is very common, especially after the second session or so due to the histamines that are released by the body in response to the laser treatment and the breaking up of the ink. Itching usually lasts a day or so and Benadryl can be used to counteract the itching.

Since the body uses the immune system and circulatory system to clear the ink, whatever is bad for your body will slow down the process. Drinking large quantities of alcohol will affect your liver and kidneys, whereas smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels, slowing down the overall speed of ink clearance.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to speed up the removal process. Eating a well-balanced diet, drinking a lot of water and exercise will have a positive outcome on the process.

The after care is super simple, just apply Aquaphor, Neosporin or bacitracin to the area twice a day for 2-3 days. Keep the area out of the sun as long as possible, don’t pick at any blisters if they form and don’t scratch at the area when it begins to itch. Make sure that you are not allergic to any of the products mentioned above prior to putting it on the tattoo area.

Yes, you can take a shower after the session if you would like. Be sure to use non abrasive mild soap and do not use any hard sponges. Once you are dry, just reapply the Aquapohor.

My recommendation would be to stay out of chlorinated pools or the ocean until your skin is no longer irritated. Both chlorine and salt can have a drying effect on your skin. If there are any blisters you want to avoid pools and the ocean to prevent possible infections. Plus, as mentioned before, you need to stay out of the sun after a tattoo removal session has been done.

It is rare that the pico technology blisters the skin but if it does, leave them alone. The blisters are caused by the ink expanding causing layers of the skin to separate, they are not thermal burns like putting your hand on a hot stove. Keep applying the aquaphor and the blisters will dry up in a few days. Popping blisters can cause scarring, scabbing and infections.

Yes, once you and your tattoo artist are happy with the progress, a new tattoo can be put right over the same area as the older tattoo. I do recommend lightening it as much as possible so you can get a more detailed cover up tattoo. The last thing you want is another dark tattoo that you do not like.