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10 Resources to Learn About Tattoo Removal

I get questions every day about laser tattoo removal because it is an interesting and complicated topic. While performing some of my own research, I realized that others would probably like to use these resources I found to learn more themselves.

The following list provides 10 resources that can help you learn and understand more about tattoo removal. Some are academic papers, most are articles about laser tattoo removal or other aspects of the art of tattoo. Please enjoy!

Webpages

  • Web MD – This webpage provides a good high-level working knowledge about laser tattoo removal. I recommend reading if you want to know what to expect when you come in for a treatment.
  • Kirby-Desai Scale – This webpage from Astanza Laser is a good introduction to the Kirby-Desai scale. It also describes how to use the scale, so that you can understand how many treatments you may need to remove your tattoo.
  • Laser Tattoo Removal Video – One of the best ways to learn about something is to watch it happen. This link will take you to a video we produced that demonstrates laser tattoo removal in action.

Articles

  • NPR – National Public Radio published an interesting article talking about how ink is trapped in the skin. This is recommended reading for easily understood explanations of the science behind tattooing.
  • Science World – Science World gives a bit about the psychology behind tattoos and the potential stigma around them. Also has a short explainer about the process behind tattoo ink entering the skin.
  • Skin Cancer Foundation – With a laser light based therapy, skin cancer is a concern for many. The skin cancer foundation went to an expert to understand the risks.
  • Inverse – Interesting article from Inverse about why tattoo ink stays in the skin. Even though our skin is constantly repairing itself, our immune system makes certain that the ink cannot leave.
  • The Atlantic – This fascinating article from The Atlantic gives a deep dive into the history of tattooing and attempted tattoo removal. Tells the story of some of the first Europeans to “accidentally” get a tattoo.

Scholarly Articles

Well, I hope you have enjoyed some of the recommended reading about laser tattoo removal! These 10 resources have helped us to understand and explain the process around laser tattoo removal, and I hope they helped you understand as well.

If you’d like to book your free consultation, please feel free to give us a call or click on our online booking widget!

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July Questions and Answers

Should I remove my visible tattoos for a better chance at getting a job? (L.J. from Largo, FL)

To me, it really depends on the profession. At our clinic, people get their tattoos removed for a lot of reasons. One of the many reasons that we see is when people who are looking to change jobs or job industries. The most common jobs these folks are seeking are military, followed by law enforcement.

Unlike law enforcement and the military, many jobs don’t have strict codes requiring employees to not have visible tattoos. In these cases, where possible, I would recommend simply covering the tattoo instead of going through removal. Unless you really don’t like the tattoo anymore, the expense and time required for tattoo removal are unlikely to be worth the slightly better prospects for finding a job.

Should I try getting a cover up tattoo first or just go straight to laser removal treatments? (E.V. from St. Petersburg, FL)

At our clinic we see many different clients. Some come to us to get a tattoo lightened before seeing an artist for a cover-up, and some simply want their tattoo completely vanished. My question for anyone in this situation is why do you want the tattoo removed or covered up?

I have clients who want their tattoo gone because they don’t like the look of ink in that spot on their body. In this case, laser removal is the pretty obvious answer.

I have other clients who want the tattoo gone because it reminds them of a part of their past, such as an ex, that they want to forget. In this case, a cover-up might be sufficient but perhaps removal is the better way to erase the constant reminder from their skin.

Finally, I have clients who simply don’t like the tattoo they have chosen (or been talked into, more often). These clients frequently come to me for 2 to 4 treatments before finding an artist and design that they like and getting a new tattoo over the old one.

In any case, it is best to understand why you no longer love your tattoo. You can then take action to fix the problem via the best method possible.

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What can I do between treatments to help the process?

This is a question we hear frequently at our clinic, and we recommend our clients do a few things between treatments. First, follow all of the aftercare instructions. These were developed to maximize both your healing and the fading of the tattoo.

Second, we highly recommend doing activities that increase blood flow to the area. Our lasers are great at breaking your tattoo ink into small pieces, but it is your immune system that does the work of removal in between treatments.

This means that if the tattoo is on your hand or forearm, use a stress ball every day to stimulate blood flow. If it is instead on your foot or lower leg, take a daily walk or jog to make sure your tattoo is getting fresh blood. Once the skin has completely healed, an occasional massage is also a great way to get blood flowing and give the immune system a boost.

Finally, do the things that are important to take care of your skin. Protect yourself from the sun, use your preferred product for dry skin (we prefer Aquaphor), and avoid products that would damage or abrade your skin.

If you haven’t started the process yet and are just learning about laser tattoo removal, please feel free to give us a call or schedule a free consultation to learn more!

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Removing Permanent Makeup

permanent makeup
Microblading tattoo on the eyebrows

We get questions about using laser tattoo removal for permanent makeup nearly every week, so it seemed like a good idea to blog about. The question I get most often is, “Can you remove my (eyebrow, lip, hairline, etc.) permanent makeup?”

The answer to that question is almost always yes, but many clients choose not to go forward with treatment. We want to share why, so you can make an informed decision:

  • Brown pigment in tattoo ink can turn orange with treatment, and it stays that way for the weeks in between your treatment.
  • If the tattoo is in a hair line, the laser can kill some of the hair follicles, removing hair that is still wanted.
  • While it is not common, there is a small chance of blistering when receiving laser treatment. Blisters on the face can be unsightly.
  • Finally, aftercare is critically important. Treatments that aren’t properly cared for are at the highest risk for infection.

I do want to add that there are a few places where we absolutely cannot remove permanent makeup. Eyeliner is a good example of what cannot be treated, because the laser is powerful enough to damage the cornea through the eyelid.

If you have read the warnings and still want to get a treatment, then we can treat your tattoo. But please be careful and discuss the procedure with your laser technician, because the skin on your face is very important!

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Want to See a Laser Tattoo Removal Video?

The most common questions I receive from new clients are about what the tattoo removal experience looks and feels like. For those who have never experienced a laser treatment before, it can often seem intimidating or alarming. Because of that, we’ve made it our goal to help everyone understand the process.

This is why I have embedded the following video, taken in the Evanesce Laser Tattoo Removal offices!

I hope this video has taken some of the mystery out of laser tattoo removal. We want every client to know they are getting a safe, effective treatment. If you are interested in having your tattoo removed, please feel free to give us a call or book online using our convenient online calendar!

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June Questions and Answers

How difficult is it to remove stick and poke tattoos?

I’ve found that stick and poke tattoos are sometimes the hardest to judge when it comes to the difficulty/number of sessions. Some stick and pokes were given with a light hand, with only a small amount of ink in the dermis of the skin. These tattoos remove quickly, easily and in a few sessions.

However, a stick and poke tattoo has the potential to put ink much deeper into the dermis than is necessary. An unsteady hand may poke deep into your skin, where ink is more difficult to remove. In these cases, a tattoo could lighten quickly with the first couple sessions, and then become very difficult to remove in spots where the needle went too deep.

Can you estimate how many treatments I would need?

Stick and poke tattoos are not the majority of our removals, but we do have experience treating this type of tattoo. What we have learned is that we make no promises about the number of treatments. Our advice to clients is that maybe their artist had a light touch and they could be lucky… but maybe they aren’t. Either way, we understand that tattoo removal is important to our clients, and we are here to guide them through that process with honesty and integrity.

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May Questions and Answers

Every time I take a new consultation, I learn more about what people think, believe, and wonder about laser tattoo removal. Because asking and answering questions is one of the best ways to learn, I thought I would take a couple of the questions I have been asked during consultations and answer them here.

What will my tattoo look like the day after treatment? (Asked by G.M. from St. Petersburg, FL)

Results can vary, of course, so lets discuss what a typical treatment looks like. First, every treatment is going to have some slight redness and itching. It is very similar to a mild sunburn, and like a sunburn it is very important that we do not scratch, itch, or abrade the area. As the treatments continue and higher energies are used, there is a slight chance that we see small water blisters in addition to the sunburn-like results.

Second, it is common to see a small amount of ink fading immediately after treatment. In many cases, we won’t see any immediate changes in the heavily inked areas or on darker lines, but shaded areas may become lighter overnight. It is important to remember that ink removal is a multi-week process carried out by the immune system, so the complete treatment result will be visible between weeks 3 and 6.

Finally, your tattoo is going to look back to normal within a few days to a week, except for a few noticeable changes. We already discussed the immediate fading of the ink that will continue for a couple weeks. In addition, when the laser breaks up the ink particles there can be some dispersion of the ink. Lines that were small and tight may become loose and faded, which is a great indicator that we are making progress towards removing your tattoo!

How soon can I go to the beach after treatment? (Asked by L.F. from Seminole, FL)

The short answer: 7 days, as long as your tattoo is completely healed and does not have any symptoms (redness, itching, or blistering).

The long answer: here in Florida, especially the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, we have fantastic beaches. We know that you want to get out there and enjoy the sun, sand, and surf – unfortunately, all three of the those things can be harmful to your newly treated tattoo!

The sun’s rays may feel amazing, but they can be damaging to skin that has been recently treated by a laser. On the other hand, the sand and water of the beach that we enjoy so much are filled with microbes that could infect a newly treated tattoo and ruin the healthy skin we are trying to save!

Thank you for taking the time to read a quick Q & A about laser tattoo removal! If you live in Largo, St. Petersburg, Seminole, Pinellas or the greater Tampa Bay area, please feel free to reach out to me with any further questions you might have or schedule your free consultation!

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It pops when the laser strikes my tattoo!

Many clients are surprised when they see and hear the immediate results from laser tattoo removal. They are amazed by the frosting effect and sometimes startled by the loud, “snap!” that emits when the laser strikes heavy ink. I wanted to discuss today the science behind laser tattoo removal, specifically the photoacoustic effect that creates the snapping sound that we hear.

A quick trip to Wikipedia tells us that the photoacoustic effect is most often produced by the photothermal mechanism. From this, we understand that the snapping noise we hear is most likely caused by the heating, expansion, and eventual breaking of the ink molecules within the skin. These processes create acoustic shockwaves within the skin, and those shockwaves are perceived as acoustic noises on the outside of the skin.

Because we now understand that the photoacoustic effect is highly likely to be directly tied to the break-up of ink molecules within the skin, it makes sense that one of the main indicators of effective removal is the loud snap that we hear during treatment. Your laser technician is trained to listen for and see the signals that you are receiving the right amount of light energy for an effective treatment.

We hope that this information has helped you understand the treatment process, and given you the urge to learn more! If you are in Seminole, Clearwater, St. Petersburg or the greater Tampa Bay area and would like to learn more about the process, please give us a call or book your free consultation online!

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Frosting during Treatment

When a technician is performing laser tattoo removal, it is important to see and hear certain signs that indicate the laser energy is being absorbed by the tattoo ink. One of the signs that we need to see is frosting.

Before treatment and frosting after laser treatment for red ink.

The photo above shows what a tattoo looks like both immediately before and after the treatment for red ink using a 532 nanometer wavelength laser. The white haze on the “after” picture is called frosting, and it indicates that we have successfully performed a laser treatment. We want to see this effect after every treatment, to ensure that the tattoo ink has absorbed enough energy to break apart and be removed by the body. It may look different depending on the color of the tattoo ink, but frosting should be evident after each laser treatment.

To understand why laser tattoo removal creates frosting, we should go to the research performed on laser technology. From a study performed by Ho et al. published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, sophisticated models indicate that the heat from the laser creates cavitation bubbles where the ink particles absorbed the light energy. In lay terms, this means that it is very likely that the “frosting” effect we see during treatment is actually tiny steam bubbles surrounding the ink that we have broken into smaller molecules.

To make a long story short, laser removal technicians need to see frosting during treatment because it is an excellent indicator that the ink has absorbed the right amount of light energy. If you are in Pinellas or the greater Tampa Bay area and are interested in having a tattoo removed, or would simply like to learn more about the process, then please give us a call or book your free consultation online!

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Laser Removal and Tattoo Cover-Ups

Frequently, we find during our consultations that instead of complete removal a client wants to have a particular tattoo covered up by another tattoo. Often, they are looking into laser removal because a cover-up would be difficult due to the presence of thick black lines or dark, heavy shading. Luckily, laser tattoo removal is perfectly designed to assist a tattoo artist in covering up difficult tattoos.

When one of our laser beams strikes a tattoo, the light is absorbed by the ink molecules within the skin. The laser light does not pass far beyond the first layer of ink particles because our lasers are tuned to be heavily absorbed by the ink we are targeting. Because our lasers remove tattoo ink in layers, our process can make your skin more receptive to the ink that you want, by removing the ink that you don’t.

We currently work with tattoo artists in St. Petersburg, Largo, Seminole, and Clearwater to provide clients with skin that is ready for the artwork that they deserve. If you’d like to learn more about the process, please call or click to schedule your free consultation!

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