Laser Tattoo Removal FAQs
1. How does the laser remove my tattoo?
Tattoos consist of thousands of tiny particles of pigment (ink) that have been injected into the dermis, which are suspended in the skin. Normally, the healing process and cell turnover remove small foreign particles from the skin. However, tattoo pigment particles are too large to be removed during these natural processes.
Laser tattoo removal uses technology in which a high-powered, very short, pulsed beam of light is delivered at specific wavelengths—1064nm (nanometres), 755nm or 532nm. The beam passes through the skin and breaks up tattoo pigment particles of all colours and shades into smaller particles. These particles are then gradually eliminated through the body’s lymphatic system. Eventually, the tattoo fades in much the same way that a bruise fades over time.
2. Is laser tattoo removal safe?
Yes, it is. When performed correctly by a certified, experienced laser technician, laser tattoo removal is both safe and effective. However, it is a clinical procedure. As such, there is a potential for associated risks.
As a professional laser tattoo-removal clinic, we will not perform any procedures without first assessing your complete medical history, your current health condition, and any potential you may have for complications. Lasers are our specialty and our technicians have years of experience working on a variety of medical lasers every day. These facts make Electra Laser your best choice for tattoo removal. Additionally, we provide all clients with protective eyewear that must be worn during treatment.
Please visit Health Canada to see what they say about laser skin treatments, including tattoo removal.
3. What type of training do your technicians undergo?
Our technicians at Electra Laser are Medical Estheticians. In addition, they have received training and certification specific to our laser tattoo-removal equipment. While B.C. has no regulations in place governing technicians who work in laser tattoo-removal clinics, we require our technicians to be fully trained and certified. All of our technicians have a minimum of two years’ experience.
4. Which laser equipment does Electra Laser use?
At Electra Laser, we use only medical-grade, CSA-approved laser equipment. All of our technicians have received training specific to Alexandrite Laser-pumped-laser and Q-switched YAG Laser Technologies. The Alex Tri-Vantage’s leading-edge technology enables us to provide outstanding, efficient service to our growing clientele. Our equipment is maintained and repaired by professional service technicians who have been certified by the manufacturer.
5. Am I required to have a consultation and undergo a patch test?
Yes, we will book a complimentary* consultation appointment for you with one of our certified laser technicians prior to scheduling any laser tattoo-removal treatments. This is for your own protection, and we cannot make exceptions. At this time, you should also share with us any past experience you have had with laser skin treatments.
During your consultation, we will perform a patch test to rule out any adverse reactions. We will also address any concerns you might have at this time. You are responsible for informing your laser tattoo-removal technician of any medications or natural health products you are taking; and of any underlying medical conditions you have. These are critical details that we must consider when customizing your laser tattoo-removal treatments. Your first treatment can be scheduled 2 – 4 weeks after your patch test, at which time your technicain will determine your skin is completely healed prior to proceeding.
We encourage you to ask all of your questions during your consultation so that we can address your concerns prior to beginning your treatment. It is important to us that: you are well informed before you begin laser tattoo-removal treatments and; you feel comfortable with our clinic and your technician.
6. Will the laser completely remove my tattoo?
Most tattoos can be considerably diminished and many can be completely removed. Some tattoos can be removed more easily than others, depending on the following factors:
- Colour, quality, quantity and depth of pigment: Certain pigments—black, red and dark blue—respond better to the laser than do green, orange, and light blue or pink pigments. These lighter pigments can rquire more treatments to achieve your desired results. Professionally applied tattoos use ink intended to be permanent and can require more treatments than amatuer or medical tattoos.
- Age of the tattoo: Older, blurred tattoos that have migrated from their original site can be more difficult to remove.
- Location on the body: Tattoos on thinner-skinned areas—such as ankles or fingers—are more difficult to remove than those placed on thicker-skinned areas, such as the abdomen and shoulders.
Some areas may retain a shadow of the former tattoo, which will fade gradually. During your complimentary consultation, your certified laser technician will assess your tattoo and give you a more precise estimate of the number of treatments you will require.
7. Is laser tattoo removal painful?
It can be uncomfortable. People who have undergone laser tattoo-removal treatment compare it to the snap of an elastic band against the skin. However, we all experience pain differently and tolerance is a variable factor.
In preparation for your treatment, you may wish to take an over-the-counter, non-Aspirin® product such as Tylenol®. DO NOT take Aspirin® products as they can increase the risk of bruising and/or bleeding. Please see our Pre-Treatment Care for further information.
8. What are the possible side effects of laser tattoo removal?
Essentially, the removal of a tattoo involves creating a controlled medical burn with the laser. There is an immediate whitening of the treated area, which may last anywhere from several minutes up to several hours. Short-term side-effects can include: reddening, mild burning, temporary bruising and/or blistering.
Within 12-72 hours, your skin will likely scab or crust, and this can last for one to two weeks or more. Your skin can be pink or pale after the scab separates. Loss of skin pigment in the treated area is common, but usually temporary. Your technician will discuss possible side-effects with you, and provide you with pre- and post-treatment care instructions before scheduling your laser tattoo-removal appointment.
9. Is laser tattoo removal safe during pregnancy?
While some clinics treat clients during pregnancy, we do not at Electra Laser. Our primary concern is both for your health, and for that of your unborn child. In addition, you should consider the hormonal changes that you will go through during your pregnancy—changes that sometimes involve skin pigmentation. We strongly recommend that you seek advice from your health-care professional prior to contacting any laser tattoo-removal clinic. And, we’d be happy to treat you after the safe arrival of your baby!
10. How many treatments will I need?
Generally speaking, laser tattoo removal can require anywhere from three to twelve treatments. The number of treatments will depend upon: the age, size, colour, and location of the tattoo; and the type and depth of the ink pigment. Ideally, treatments will be scheduled from four to eight weeks apart to allow your body’s lymphatic system to flush out the dissolved pigment particles. Your technician will be able to provide you with a more precise estimate during your complimentary consultation.
11. How long is a treatment session?
Generally speaking, a laser tattoo-removal session will last no longer than 30 minutes. However, we must assess your tattoo for the following characteristics: size, age, pigment colour, pigment type, pigment depth, design intricacy, and location on your body.
After your first treatment session, we will have a much better idea as to how long your individual sessions will last. Also, you will have a better understanding of what your pain tolerance is, much of which will be dictated by the location of your tattoo.
12. Pre and Post-Treatment instructions
- Do not tan or expose unprotected skin to the sun for two to four weeks prior (including sunless tanning).
- Shave any hair in the area to be treated 24 hours prior.
- Apply an over-the-counter topical anaesthetic 30-90 minutes prior—or follow manufacturer’s directions—and then cover with plastic or Saran™ wrap to prevent oxidization or removal. (We carry Maxilene Lidocaine Cream Topical Anesthetic, available in 3 convenient sizes and 2 non-perscription strengths.)
- Avoid harsh irritants or products—including mechanical and chemical exfoliation—on the tattoo area.
- Remove all makeup, lotion, and deodorant on the tattoo area.
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress over the gauze bandage several times a day (if needed) to help reduce bruising and swelling—can last from one hour to seven days.
- To help prevent infection, keep the treated area moist with an antibiotic ointment until redness and irritation subside (Electra Laser will provide you with a complimentary tube of Polysporin® after your first treatment).
- Avoid washing the area for 24 hours as hot water and soap may cause irritation and delay healing.
- Avoid vigorous exercise, hot tubs, and saunas for two to seven days.
- Avoid exposure to sun and use a minimum SPF-30 sunscreen for two months.
- Seek immediate medical attention if: the area appears to be infected—honey-coloured crusting, oozing, and/or spreading redness; you experience unusual discomfort or bleeding; you have any extreme reactions such as fever, rash, difficulty breathing or other complications.