Out with the Old Tattoo and in with the New
Updated: Mar 18
Why You Should Laser Remove Old Tattoos Before Getting A New One
No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and tattoos may be one of them. If you find yourself rethinking your ink, you are not alone. Fortunately, getting a tattoo is not as permanent as many would believe, and there is a way to mend it.
Most people opt for laser tattoo removals to rid themselves of an old tattoo completely. However, more are getting the treatment to have their tattoos fade just enough so that a new tattoo can take its place.
All About Laser Tattoo Removal
Many experts agree that lasering is the most successful and cost-effective way to remove your tattoos. The process has come a long way over the past 30 years or so, having evolved and equipped with the latest technologies technicians and clients can trust.
How it Works
The machine involved sends out strong energy pulses that heat up and dissolve the ink embedded in your skin. These tiny broken ink particles are then carried away through your immune system via your white blood cells.
The process can be painless. Typically, a laser technician numbs the affected skin area with a local anesthetic or a lidocaine injection before applying the laser to the skin. However, some non-medical practices do not use numbing agents.
As one can expect, more prominent tattoos take significantly longer to remove because of the larger affected skin. But this will not mean that smaller tattoos are necessarily less painful than bigger ones as the laser settings reflect the tattoo colour rather than its size. It is just faster, therefore more bearable. You should expect some bleeding, blistering, and swelling following the procedure.
It is recommended to see well-versed doctors or technicians to do the treatment for efficient removal. When done correctly, you should see about 90% clearance on a tattoo.
Removal Duration and Considerations
It usually takes several laser treatment sessions spaced at least six to eight weeks between them, so getting rid of a tattoo may take months to over a year or two. The exact process is done over and over until the tattoo has faded to its desired extent.
The number of treatments required will vary according to the customer and the tattoo to be removed. Factors like the following are things your technician will consider before giving you a better estimate:
The bigger it is, the more time-consuming and expensive it will be to remove.
Older tattoos tend to fade most with laser treatment instead of newer ones because the ink diffuses upward over time. This diffusion makes the pigments easier to break up with the laser.
Tattoos with darker or multiple colours are more difficult to remove. Generally, the colours black, brown, dark blue or green are easier to remove.
Amateur tattoos are often carbon-based and make use of a single-colour ink. They are superficially placed, thus are easier to remove.
Professionally done tattoos frequently utilize various colours, which get in more deeply into the skin, making it more challenging to remove.
The laser has different wavelengths that target the varying ink colours in the skin, so multiple lasers are required to successfully remove a multicolour tattoo.
Darker skin tones generally require more sessions than lighter ones. Laser treatments might also change the colour of darker skin, but some clinics have laser options that are least likely to change darker skin colour.
Darker skin tones are also more prone to have burns and hyperpigmentation after the procedure as the laser targets pigment in the dye and the melanin in your skin.
Pre-existing skin or health conditions like eczema and herpes affect treatment length. It is best to first consult with your healthcare provider if you have these or similar issues. They may prescribe medications before your treatment.
Regardless of these factors, tattoo removal is still possible. Once those are considered, you also get the idea of the cost, which may vary per clinic.
The Costs Involved
The price range of laser tattoo removal averages around $200-500 per session, usually more depending on the size and colour. Most insurance companies do not cover tattoo removals as it is regarded as a cosmetic procedure.
Apart from the expense, the treatment may come with side effects such as bleeding, infection, and scarring. However, all these can be treated with certified professionals, so it is best to have the treatment with them. They can also better recognize possible complications and advise whether it is safe to go through the procedure and give you specific aftercare instructions.
Antibacterial ointments are usually applied to the skin for several days after each procedure. The solution will help heal your skin, reducing risks of infection. You would also need to change the wound dressing after each ointment application.
Your technician may also advise you to avoid wearing tight clothing and exposing the treated area to direct sunlight. Apart from keeping the treated area clean and dry, ensure to not pick at any scabs or blisters that form, too.
Out With the Old Before Putting In the New
It is advised to have old tattoos removed before you consider re-inking the area. You get to start on a clearer canvas, making it easier for the tattoo artist to do his work. Not opting for the laser removal might also cause complications to the design of your tattoo, further exacerbating the marks on your arm and make it harder and longer to remove afterwards.
Going through these problematic motions costs not only your time and money but also the affected patch/es of areas and the overall health of your skin, too. You would not want to risk permanent damage.
Before Getting Re-Inked
After some time and several laser sessions later, your tattoo will fade enough to get re-inked. It typically takes 3-5 treatments for the old tattoo to fade sufficiently to do a cover-up. Also, allow your body to heal and wait at least six weeks before getting another tattoo in the same treated area. This recovery period between removal and re-inking ensures that your immune system has slowed down enough for the latest tattoo not to be pulled out along with the old ink.
Consult with a reputable tattoo artist, too, to make sure your chosen design can be deposited onto the skin to look aesthetic enough to your liking.
Where to Go for Tattoo Removal
For expert tattoo removal, head on over to Vanish Clinic. Our signature PicoWay laser treatment is quick and efficient at removing tattoos (or fading for re-inking). This service comes with a flat fee pricing, so you save more — an offer you will not find anywhere else.