If you’re thinking of removing your tattoo via laser treatments, you may find yourself with more questions than you have answers. The first thing many clients want to know is how many treatments it will take to fully remove their tattoo — unfortunately, there’s no one straightforward answer to that question. Many different factors determine how long it takes to fully remove a tattoo; and only a consultation with a trained professional can give you an accurate answer.

As you’re considering laser removal, keep in mind the factors that play a big role in fully removing that ink.

Fresh Tattoos or Cover Ups

As a general rule, the newer your tattoo, the longer it’ll take to fully remove. Your body treats tattoo ink as a foreign substance, and over time your cells send agents to slowly eat at this invader. This is why older tattoos look faded at the edges, and can appear blurry as they age — with older ink, the body has already done some of the tattoo removal work in its own natural way, leaving less work for the lasers. Newer ink has larger deposits of pigment under the skin, and as the body hasn’t had much time to work away at the ink particles, fresh tattoos will need more treatments to fully dissolve.

Similarly, tattoos that have been covered up with other designs will take more treatments to fully eliminate, no matter the age. With two layers of ink deposits in one area, your body has been trying to process twice the amount of ink. Laser treatments will also have twice the ink to work on, lengthening the number of treatments needed.

Color of the Tattoo

Did you know that the color of your tattoo plays a large role in how easy it is to remove? In general, green, blue and black inks are easier to remove. Red, orange, yellow — and the increasingly popular white inks — are some of the hardest to remove completely; however, newer Pico technology has made it a lot easier to remove even these stubborn tints. If your design is made up of green, black, or blue ink, Pico technology can eliminate at least 75% of the pigmentation in one or two sessions. The removal success of a specific color is something to keep in mind when planning future tattoos, as well — especially if you think there’s a chance you may be faced with inker’s remorse down the line.

Health Concerns

Believe it or not, your health habits have an impact on the tattoo removal process. Smokers have a harder time getting rid of their designs quickly, likely due to a link between smoking and the decreased rate of wound healing. Any health conditions that lower your immune system, such as diabetes, may also impact your body’s ability to quickly heal itself after each laser treatment. Scars, or other types of tissue damage, can impact the laser’s ability to remove the layers of ink necessary to eliminate the design.

Everyone is Different

Each individual person’s success with laser treatments will differ, depending on factors related to your health, your skin, and the tattoo itself. Technological developments like Pico technology make it easier to provide treatments in the face of potential complications, and the tattoo removal industry is constantly evolving to find new and better ways to treat different skin types and ink types. The only way you’ll know exactly how many treatments you’ll need for the complete removal of your ink is to make an appointment with a professional in your area.

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