Recent studies have shown that as much as 80% of adults with tattoos regret getting one or all of them. For this reason, laser tattoo removal has seen a growing surge around the globe. While it is common knowledge that removing tattoos is now an option, many do not understand quite how the process works. At SkinRenewal of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we like to work with our laser removal clients to make sure they understand the process every step of the way.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
To understand how tattoo removal works, you must first understand how tattoos work. When a person is tattooed, different pigments are injected deep into the skin using a tattoo needle. This pigment remains under the surface of the skin even when old skin dies and flakes away. When you look at a tattoo, you are not actually looking at the skin’s surface, but at a picture that has been drawn beneath.
Traditionally, laser tattoo removal methods have delivered a constant, harsh beam of laser energy into the pigment to break it up. This has proven to be painful and has often caused damage to the skin. Thankfully, the PicoWay laser has come onto the scene. The PicoWay laser is a favorite in our office because it delivers heat in short pulses instead of a heavy stream. Each pulse is equal to one trillionth of a second. These lasers have a photo-acoustic effect on the pigments, breaking up the tattoo coloring quickly and completely without burning or leaving a lasting effect on the tattoo’s surface.
Even still, more than one session is often required. This is because only short periods of tattoo removal are safe. In order to ensure that your skin looks healthy and clear after all treatments are complete, each treatment will only be scheduled for a limited duration of time.
Can You Remove a Tattoo From Anywhere?
Almost any part of the body can be tattooed. You probably are well aware of this fact by now. Perhaps you have a tattoo in an unusual part of your body, and you are curious as to whether or not that particular tattoo can be safely extracted from your skin’s natural pigmentation.
The good news is that a tattoo can be removed from anywhere that a tattoo can be placed. This doesn’t mean that the process will always be as quick and easy, though. Depending on the placement of the tattoo, you may find that additional sessions will be required before you notice the results you are looking for.
Easiest Places to Remove a Tattoo
You probably have already done your research on what parts of the body hurt worse to get tattooed. You’d be interested to know that similar rules apply when we are determining how easy a tattoo is to remove.
The better the circulation is in a part of your body, the easier the process of removing a tattoo from that part of the body will be. Areas in close proximity to the heart and with a lot of muscle mass stand out as ideal areas for faster laser tattoo removal.
Tattoos on the back are some of the easiest to remove. This is because of the muscle buildup and the proximity to the heart. Thanks to these qualities, your back boasts the best circulation in your entire body. This makes it a very easy place for laser removal to take effect. In fact, most who get a tattoo removed from their back will begin to see noticeable results after only a few sessions.
Much like the back, your abdomen and chest are also good places for laser removal. The circulation to these areas is also quite good, and there is a lot of muscle mass under the skin of the abdomen and chest, promoting steady oxygenation throughout these parts. The exception is if you are severely overweight. The fat cells in your body may slow the oxygen and, therefore, create a need for additional laser appointments.
Arms & Legs
These parts of the body are always moving. They typically boast good circulation and muscle tone, so there is a steady supply of oxygen reaching the skin cells. This will aid in the process of tattoo removal and breaking down the inked pigmentation. Again, this will vary based on any health issues you may have that slow the circulation as well as your score on the body mass index.
The circulation to your neck is fantastic. It is in close proximity to your heart, and the neck is one of the last places to gather extra fat. This means that tattoos on the neck are pretty simple to remove by laser, and noticeable changes can sometimes occur after only the first few appointments.
Naturally, if there are easy places to remove a tattoo, then there are also going to places that are less easy. This doesn’t mean they will hurt more or that they cannot be clarified. It simply means more sessions may need to take place.
Hardest Places to Remove a Tattoo
We discussed how tattoos in parts of the body where there is good circulation tend to respond well to laser removal treatments. Alternatively, the tattoos we have the most difficulty with are those that exist in parts of the body where circulation is minimized and in areas of the body where the pain threshold is lower or the skin makeup is different.
Ankles and Wrists
Skin is thinner in the ankles and wrists and rests directly on top of bone. Because of this difference in the makeup of the skin, laser treatments must be kept shorter and spaced further than you would expect in other parts of the body.
Feet & Hands
Think about when you are not feeling good or when you are cold. The first place you notice sweating or chill is in your feet and hands. These are also typically the first places to “fall asleep” when you are sitting in an awkward position.
This is because the feet and hands have some of the slowest circulation throughout the entire body. Because of this slow circulation, laser treatments in these areas show slower results. Oxygen is needed to help break up the inked pigment, so when oxygen comes slower, you can expect the breakdown of the ink to take a longer amount of time.
Face tattoos are surprisingly common (and commonly regretted). While removing a tattoo from the face is not impossible, it can be difficult. The skin in your face is thinner than in most parts of the body, therefore it is more sensitive to the effects of laser treatments. Shorter sessions will need to take place to ensure the skin remains healthy.
If your problematic body art is placed somewhere not already discussed in this article, you only need to think about how your body’s circulation works to determine how easily it might be removed using laser treatments.
What Else Affects Tattoo Removal?
We have already discussed how the removal of a tattoo is affected by its placement on the body, mostly due to the body’s circulation. There are other factors involved in how easily a tattoo is removed, however, and these are just as important when considering the process. These will all play a secondary role in determining how long your laser removal takes and how many sessions will be necessary.
Smoking impacts circulation. This means that oxygen will take a longer time reaching the skin cells, which will slow the effect of the laser. The inked pigmentation will not break down as easily, and you will need more appointments to see the results you are hoping for. The best thing to do is to quit smoking at least 30 days prior to beginning laser removal treatments.
Obviously, the size of your tattoo will come into play. A larger area of inked pigment will require more sessions than a small area. It probably goes without saying, but you should not expect your half-sleeve tattoo to be removed as quickly as your friend’s “forever” wedding band. Talk to your specialist about a reasonable time estimate for your tattoo’s unique size.
Age of Tattoo
Over time, tattoos tend to break down and fade naturally. Older tattoos are already further along in the process, so the dyed pigment will naturally lift more easily than a brand-new tattoo. This is why you should weigh your options heavily before you decide to have touch up work done if you are unsure about keeping a tattoo.
The same is true in instances of tattoo coverups. Some opt to simply have a problematic tattoo covered rather than removed because they are afraid the process of removal will be too expensive or time-consuming. Ask yourself if you would rather pay repeatedly to have the tattoo covered and touched up in subsequent years or simply have the tattoo dealt with once and for all right now.
Was your tattoo done by a professional, or was it done by an acquaintance in a friend’s basement? Most regrettable tattoos have regrettable beginnings, so if you’re sporting a lower-quality ink than you’d like, don’t feel ashamed. In fact, this might even work in your favor.
High quality tattoo inks are formulated to really set into the pigment and last over time. If your artist used an ink that was of a lower quality, it will be much easier to break up and lift.
Darker inks are naturally harder to lift than lighter colors. Therefore, a thick black band will be much harder to do away with than a tiny yellow flower. If you have a lot of extremely dark tattoos, you should expect to need a larger number of laser removal sessions before you will see them disappear.
The closer your natural pigmentation is to the inked pigment, the sooner you will see results. Green ink on a tan complexion, for example, will appear to lift faster than it would off of someone with a pasty or pale complexion. It is almost a universal truth that darker-skinned individuals have an easier time removing their tattoos thanks to the way their skin pigmentation naturally works to disguise ink.
By now, you should be able to form a pretty good idea of how simple the process of removing your problematic tattoo might be. The time has now come to begin the process of claiming back your skin.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you are interested in having tattoo removal services, reach out to us at SkinRenewal of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the process and discuss a treatment plan.