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.
Why does it take multiple sessions? (Asked by G.B. from Largo, FL)
There a many reasons that laser tattoo removal takes multiple sessions, but I focus on the two that are most important to me: safety and tattoo depth.
Laser tattoo removal works by breaking ink molecules into smaller pieces, which your body removes through the immune system. The top layer of skin and ink absorbs the energy from the laser, which is very important for the safety and health of your skin. If we were to use a higher energy laser pulse in order to remove more ink per session, we would be risking your skin health in the process.
Once we determine what a safe amount of energy is for the skin, we then begin to remove the ink layer by layer. Essentially, each removal session is removing one layer of ink. I use the analogy of the tattoo as a cake which must be eaten from top to bottom, instead of eating the cake in slices we would eat it in layers. If the tattoo artist puts the ink very deep into the skin, we have a larger cake that will take more sessions to be “eaten.”
How large of a tattoo can you do in one session? (Asked by K.F. from Pinellas Park, FL)
Another safety related question, the simple answer for K.F. is that we can do an area about the size of a sheet of paper per session, which is approximately 10 x 10 inches.
The reason that we can only do this much area is twofold. First, the ink that is treated by the laser must be removed from the skin by the body’s immune system. Ink is seen as an invader within the body, so when ink is removed the body may have a second immune response that is similar to when the tattoo was originally placed in the skin. If we try to remove too much ink at once, that immune response could cause a person to feel ill or overload the immune system.
Secondly, there is a small amount of energy absorbed by the skin every time we fire the laser. This energy does not do much per pulse, but the aggregate amount of energy absorbed could cause sunburn like effects when spread over a very large amount of skin. While a sunburn isn’t as bad as overloading the immune system, we still don’t want to cause damage to skin that will require multiple treatments for removal of an unwanted tattoo.
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!