There are certain variables that will impact on whether you are a good candidate for laser tattoo removal. During your initial free consultation, we will thoroughly assess your medical history, skin type, and tattoo in order to accurately determine your suitability for laser tattoo removal.
You will generally be a good candidate for laser tattoo removal if you:
Are currently in good health:
The laser tattoo removal process is reliant on your immune system to remove the ink particles following each laser treatment. Therefore, for the tattoo removal process to work well, your immune system and body must be working well. If your immune system is run down with a cold or flu, your healing process will be slower and your body will not process the ink particles as efficiently. We advise that you wait until you are feeling well before having your laser treatment.
Have no serious long term health issues:
Some health conditions, or the medications that you take to treat them, may not be conducive to laser tattoo removal. Some autoimmune conditions for example, require immuno-suppressant medications which suppress the effectiveness of your immune system and slow the ink removal process. It is imperative that you present an honest account of any health concerns that you have during your initial free consultation. In some cases, it may be that laser tattoo removal is not possible at all due to your condition. However, in many cases, it may just be that the process is slowed or needs to be timed or managed differently. We may also ask you to seek the opinion of your specialist, before considering your treatment options.
Are not currently pregnant or breast-feeding:
There has never been any definitive research to prove or disprove, whether the tattoo ink in your bloodstream following laser treatment, crosses the foetal placental barrier. Therefore, it is impossible to know for sure, whether the ink particles could be of harm to mother or child. Our advice to pregnant and nursing mothers is to cease treatments, or postpone commencement of treatments, until the completion of breast-feeding. At Vanishing Ink, we would rather err on the side of caution, focussing on the overall wellness of you and your child, before commencing laser tattoo removal.
Do not have a history of abnormal scarring:
Abnormal scarring occurs when the skin repairs itself aggressively and creates too much scar tissue. This can result in hypertrophic or keloid scars, which can impact on the tattoo removal process and leave a very visible mark on the skin afterwards. People who have had this type of scarring in the past can be at risk of developing it following a laser treatment. A history of abnormal scarring does not necessarily rule you out of laser treatments, but it does need to be considered in light of other tattoo characteristics such as density, colour and location, and your tattoo removal goals.
Do not have a history of strong allergic reaction to tattoo ink:
It is not unusual to hear of allergic reactions to some ink pigments, with red ink being the most common offender. This may present as swelling or a rash that is usually red, bumpy or itchy, and may appear from days to years after your tattoo was applied. Mild cases do not pose a threat to laser tattoo removal and can usually be treated with topical or oral antihistamines.
In more severe cases of allergic reactions to tattoo ink, the reaction may present as small blisters or pustules that become irritated, may ooze fluid, and can be extremely itchy. Depending on the longevity of such reactions, and the resulting state of the skin, such cases may not be suitable for laser tattoo removal.
Are not taking any medications that will increase your skin’s sensitivity to light:
Some medications may have the effect of increasing your skins photosensitivity to light, including both sunlight and laser therapies. There is a broad range of such medications with a broad range of effects, but the following are the most common that we encounter at Vanishing Ink:
- Antibiotics: Whilst some types of antibiotics and strengths create more photosensitivity than others, it is a good idea to simply avoid laser treatments until all antibiotics are completely out of your system (usually 2 days). Otherwise, there is an increased risk of post laser side effects such as blistering, increased tenderness and prolonged healing.
- Retinols: Retinols are Vitamin C based skin products that stimulate skin cell turnover and promote the production of collagen. They are very common over-the-counter products that are topical in nature and primarily used on the face. Retinols can be irritating and drying to the skin, making it more prone to adverse post laser reactions. If you are using a retinol on or near your tattoo, discontinue using it for 5 days before your laser treatment, and until your tattoo is fully healed post treatment.
- Retinoids: These are the stronger, prescription-only version of the Vitamin C based Retinols discussed above. The most commonly known retinoid is Roaccutane or Accutane, which is used primarily to treat severe acne. These drugs greatly increase photosensitivity and have many other side effects on the skin such as dryness, cracking, eczema, fragility, and delayed wound healing. Under no circumstances can you undertake laser treatments whilst taking these drugs, or for at least 6 months afterwards.
Are not injured on the tattoo treatment site:
Laser treatments create a mild burn or wound on the tattoo site, which can take 2 weeks or more to fully heal. Therefore, in order to get the best possible result with the least possible side effects, please ensure that the skin on your treatment site is in good condition before your laser treatment. We will not treat your tattoo if it is burned (including sunburn), abrased, or generally in a poor condition.
Have a naturally light skin colour:
Lighter skin colours generally respond more quickly to laser tattoo removal treatments than darker skin. Darker skin contains more melanin, which is recognised by the laser as just another pigment to treat. So, in order to avoid impacting on the natural colour of the skin, we use lower laser settings for darker skin tones. Despite needing more treatments, it means that we can still remove tattoos from dark skin, without causing any pigmentation issues. The lighter your skin, the fewer treatments you will require.
Are not currently tanned (real or fake) on the tattoo treatment area:
Laser tattoo removal treatments are more effective when your skin is at its most pale. When you are tanned, the laser will be attracted to the heightened level of melanin in your skin (ie your tan), rather than the tattoo ink. There is also a heightened risk of ongoing pigmentation changes in your skin post treatment, if you receive treatments when your skin is tanned.
Are not currently menstruating;
Science tells us that that the brain’s natural pain management chemicals (endorphins) are linked to estrogen levels and are more potent when estrogen levels are high. Therefore, it is best from a pain perspective, to avoid any laser tattoo removal treatments, from one week prior to menstruating through to a couple of days after it ends. If your schedule is not flexible around your period, you may wish to use our topical numbing cream for improved comfort.
Changes during treatment:
Many of the variables outlined above can change throughout your life or over the course of your laser tattoo removal journey. Even if you may not present as an ideal candidate, there may be options available to you, which we can incorporate into your treatment plan. Once you have started the tattoo removal process, it is imperative that you always notify us of any changes in these variables throughout the course of your treatment. This will ensure that we discuss any possible treatment plan changes that may be necessary, which will result in the best possible outcome, with the lowest possible risks for your tattoo removal journey.
What if I’m still not sure?
If you have other conditions or variables specific to you or your tattoo that are not mentioned in this guide, please call or email us to discuss any queries you may have, or to arrange a free no-obligation consultation with one of our experts.
Phone: 1300 166 465