7 Things to Know Before Getting Laser Tattoo Removal

Whether you have a Playboy bunny on your lower back, misspelled song lyrics on your shoulder or an ex’s name in a heart on your arm, tattoo regret is real.

If you’re rethinking your ink, laser tattoo removal is a safe and effective way to get the job done. This technology has improved significantly over the years, and with our top-of-the-line Astanza Trinity laser, it’s more possible than ever to erase unwanted artwork and restore clear skin.

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering laser tattoo removal.

It’s a Process

Tattoo removal works, but it’s not a magic eraser that instantly vaporizes unwanted ink. The treatment relies on your body’s ability to eliminate ink from your skin. In between sessions, your body heals from the treatment and breaks down as much of the tattoo pigment as it can. Sessions are scheduled at least six weeks apart (eight weeks for darker complexions) so these processes can take place. Many providers recommend waiting three months between treatments for the best results.

Given that a rest period is required between sessions, and most people need multiple sessions to achieve their goals, it’s not unusual for complete tattoo removal to take two years or more. If you’re hoping to have your tattoo gone before an important event — such as a wedding or enlisting in the military — it’s critical to plan ahead.

It’s Hard to Predict Exactly How Many Sessions You’ll Need

When you come to our Sacramento medical spa for your consultation, your provider will estimate the number of sessions needed to remove the unwanted tattoo. Remember that it’s an estimate, not a guarantee. The number of sessions required is specific to each person and their tattoo, and a lot of variable factors are at play.

The Kirby-Desai scale is a popular tool used to analyze the number of laser treatments a tattoo will need for removal. First published in 2009, the scale assigns numerical values to six parameters:

  1. Patient’s skin type
  2. Tattoo location
  3. Ink color(s)
  4. Amount of ink
  5. Any scarring or tissue change
  6. Layering (if the tattoo is a cover-up)

The scores of each parameter are added to produce a combined score that indicates the estimated number of sessions needed for successful tattoo removal.

In addition to the factors covered in the Kirby-Desai scale, the speed of tattoo removal is also influenced by the patient’s health, age, immune system response and lifestyle, as well as the technology used for the treatment.

It’s Uncomfortable, But It’s Bearable

Everyone is — understandably! — concerned about laser tattoo removal pain. Some say the feeling is comparable to getting the tattoo in the first place. Some say it feels worse. Many say it hurts less than they expected it to. No two patient’s pain experiences are exactly the same.

So what can you expect?

At Aesthetic Envy, we use a medical-grade topical anesthetic to improve your comfort. We also offer the Zimmer Cryo cooling machine, which numbs the area with freezing cold air. These measures help take the edge off the procedure, but even with them, you may not have a completely pain-free treatment.

Fortunately, most patients say the discomfort is manageable and tolerable. Don’t hesitate to talk to your practitioner ahead of time if you’re worried about sensitivity. We’re here to make your experience as calm and comfortable as possible!

It Doesn’t Cost the Same for Every Patient

Just like the number of sessions and the level of pain, the cost of laser tattoo removal varies from person to person. Pricing depends on the size of the tattoo and the estimated number of sessions needed to remove it based on your Kirby-Desai score. In your consultation, your provider will assess your tattoo and determine the expected cost of your treatment plan.

Here at Aesthetic Envy, we offer complimentary tattoo removal services for former gang members and individuals struggling with addiction seeking a fresh start. Reminders of an old life should not hold you back from beginning a new one.

It’s Essential to Follow the Pre-Treatment Protocol

Laser tattoo removal and sun don’t mix. When you spend time in the sun, your skin produces more of its natural pigment (melanin), which gives you a tan. This damages your skin (even if you don’t burn), putting it at greater risk for side effects during laser tattoo removal. A tan can also make it more difficult for the laser energy to “find” the tattoo ink in your skin, which increases the risk of developing pigmentation changes after the treatment.

As soon as you know you want a tattoo removed, start applying zinc oxide sunscreen over it daily. And don’t forget that natural sunlight is not the only culprit — tanning beds, and even fake tans, also add pigment to your skin. Avoid all types of tanning before a laser tattoo removal session, ideally for six weeks.

It’s Possible to Remove All the Ink

You may have heard that certain ink colors are harder to remove than others. You might even have heard that some colors can’t be removed at all. While this might be true for older technologies and other clinics, it is not the case for the Astanza Trinity laser used at Aesthetic Envy.

Different colors respond to different wavelengths of light. The Astanza Trinity laser incorporates multiple wavelengths to deliver full-spectrum tattoo removal on all tattoo colors. The 1064 nm wavelength targets dark pigments like black and purple. The 532 nm wavelength targets warm pigments like red, orange and yellow. The 694 nm wavelength targets “resistant” bright blues and greens. We have invested in the latest laser tattoo removal technology so that we can remove any color of ink.

It Might Be Better to Fade Than Fully Erase

Just because we can remove all your ink doesn’t mean we have to. Some people want full removal, but others only want semi-removal — meaning we don’t take the tattoo all the way off, we simply fade it enough that a cover-up tattoo can be applied easily over it. It can take just two to three sessions to give your tattoo artist a better canvas to work on.

Only tired of one part of your art? We can work with that, too. With a selective removal process, we can erase part of a larger piece and leave the rest intact. This is a common request from patients who want to “clean up” an area the artist botched or eliminate an ex’s name from a design they otherwise like.

If you have more questions, we have answers. Give Aesthetic Envy a call at 916-333-4906 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with our team. We can tell you all about laser tattoo removal when we meet for a consultation.