Tattoos have become an increasing part of our popular culture. There was once a time where having tattoos earned extreme social stigma. Many will even brand you as part of countercultures.
Now, 36% of adults aged 18 – 29 have at least one tattoo. People see it as art now. However, if you’re one of the few people who did mistakes on their tattoo and want it to go, there is recourse.
Even then, how long does it take to remove a tattoo? What can you do to erase it? What steps should you take? In this guide, we’ll show you around the necessary steps to get rid of a tattoo on your body. Here’s what you need to know:
- What is Tattoo Removal?
The best, and the only way so far, to remove a tattoo is through a process called laser tattoo removal. This method uses a concentrated beam of light, a laser, to pass through under the skin. While doing this, the laser will target the ink in the tattoo.
The laser tattoo removal will start disintegrating the tattoo into smaller particles that you can metabolize. Once the ink is tiny enough, your body can then metabolize the particles into your bloodstream. This then goes away over time.
There are three types of lasers that are in use in the tattoo removal industry. These are:
- Ruby laser @ 694 nm
- Nd:YAG laser @ 532, 1064 nm
- Alexandrite laser @ 755 nm
Most of these lasers are the same used for laser hair removal, working on the same principles. These lasers zero in on dark pigments, dissolving them into smaller particles. This makes darker pigments easier to break apart and lighter colors harder.
- Understanding How a Tattoo Works
So, why do you need a laser to remove a tattoo? We need to first understand how a tattoo works. By understanding this simple concept, we’ll understand why it’s so hard to remove tattoos.
Tattoos use two crucial items in making sure tattoos are permanent. These are the inking machine, which is a syringe-like needle, and the ink itself.
When adding a tattoo, the artists create it by injecting ink into your skin. This injection happens at a rate of around 3,000 times a minute, depositing ink 1mm with every puncture. The ink injects inside the dermis – the second and more stable layer of the skin, through a small “wound.”
The materials of the ink go to the “wound,” where the body tries to heal with the immune system. Macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell, try to consume the ink, trying to take it out. Even then, materials in tattoo ink are much bigger than what macrophages can eat.
This results in a design that stays for the rest of your life. This is the same reason why your tattoo changes color as you age. With enough time, a tattoo will start changing color, which will mean you need a touch-up.
- How Long Does It Take To Remove?
How long does it take to remove a tattoo?
Most tattoo removals would need somewhere between 6 to 8 sessions to dissolve a tattoo. This changes depending on the color, the complexity of the tattoo, and your actual complexion. Large tattoos can take as much as 10 sessions or more, depending on the size.
Darker color tattoos would need fewer sessions to do so. You would also need to gauge how fast your skin heals from the treatment. You can check this article for most of the details on healing.
Most tattoo removal sessions will have somewhere between 6 – 8 weeks of rest time to let the skin heal. At an average, you would need around 9 months to a year to remove a tattoo in its entirety. Again, smaller tattoos would need fewer sessions and vice versa.
Tattoos that are away from the heart and torso would take more time to heal. This is due to the limited circulation available in extremities compared to the torso.
- Some Key Takeaways in Tattoo Removal
The ideal candidate for tattoo removal is a light-skinned person with a dark tattoo. This combination provides the biggest contrast, allowing the laser to differentiate color better.
Dark-skinned people can also have tattoo removals, but they can expect it to be more painful. Lasers like the Nd:YAG has laser wavelengths that work better on darker skin. Even then, the pain will be much greater.
Finding an expert is crucial in tattoo removal. You want reputable laser centers with a good history of removing a tattoo. Some dermatologists or even aestheticians will provide this service too.
To confirm their expertise, ask a few details to confirm their details. What’s their experience? How many tattoos did they remove in the past? Do they have pictures of their past work? They should be more than happy to answer your questions.
Laser tattoo removal is a safe procedure that uses the latest laser technology. This is a better solution than traditional options like dermabrasion and even surgical excision. With an expert doing the procedure, you should be more than safe.
After a tattoo removal session, you can expect some redness, swelling, and even some blisters. These are common side effects and should heal within a few weeks. If problems persist after your supposed healing period, it’s best to consult a doctor and have it checked.
How Long Does It Take To Remove A Tattoo?
Learning how long does it take to remove a tattoo is a simple but arduous task. You need at least 9 months to remove a tattoo through laser tattoo removal. This will take you a good amount of time and money to accomplish.
Are you looking for more health and wellness tips?
Take a look at our other guides and see which ones can help you. We have many tips on how to improve your health and what are the best procedures you can do in your body.