If you’ve decided that it’s time for an old tattoo to go, you’d probably like it to immediately and magically disappear. It’s an understandable feeling! We humans tend to be a little impatient anyway; and when you mix in regret over having your old ex’s name stamped across your arm, it’s only natural to want it removed sooner rather than later.
So now we have to give you some good news and some bad news. We’ll start with the bad news first: Removing a tattoo takes a lot longer than getting a tattoo. Sorry, but there’s no immediate gratification here. The good news is, you’ll be able to see slow and steady progress towards the elimination of an unwanted tattoo, over the course of several sessions that are safely and effectively spaced out.
Will you see a huge difference after only one session? At Ink-B-Gone, we pride ourselves on our transparency, so here’s our honest answer: Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. There are a ton of factors that come into play here, and there are no guarantees in terms of your personal timeline. Every tattoo is different, and every person’s body is unique.
That being said, we can provide far more details (and maybe even a rough timeline) after evaluating your situation in person at a free consultation. But in the meantime, let’s dig into a few of the biggest factors that will affect how long it could take your tattoo to fade after laser tattoo removal.
Breaking it down
In many cases, you may begin to see your tattoo fade in about 2 to 3 weeks (or after your first, second, or third session). However, as mentioned above, there are a ton of variables in play. Here are 5 of the most important ones to keep in mind:
- Was the design originally tattooed by a professional or by an amateur?
Why does it matter, you ask? Because professional tattoo artists typically use more ink, (not to mention ink of a higher quality), and tattoo more deeply into the dermis (the layer of skin beneath the outer layer, or epidermis). So if you’re trying to get rid of a professional tattoo, it may take a bit longer to fade than a tattoo designed by an amateur.
- How old is your tattoo?
One amazing thing about the body is that, over time, your skin will actually begin to “eat away” at a tattoo, causing its ink to break down. And with less ink left on the skin, there’s less ink that needs to be removed. So if you’re trying to eliminate an old tattoo, it’s likely that you’ll see it begin to fade sooner than you would a brand-new one.
- Where on your body is the tattoo?
Believe it or not, blood circulation is important when it comes to how quickly a tattoo will fade. During the removal process, the ink in the tattoo will be broken up by lasers, and then flushed from the body by white blood cells. So the more white blood cells that are active around the tattoo, the more quickly it will fade from sight.
This is why tattoos that are located closer to the heart, or on fattier areas of the body, tend to fade more quickly than ones that are further away, or on bonier parts of the body.
- How healthy is your immune system?
Speaking of “flushing out” ink particles, a healthy immune system can get the job done more quickly than a weak one. If you’re having some issues with your immune system, that can have a negative impact on your timeline for total removal. So for fastest results, try to live as healthy as possible before and during the removal process. In other words: get plenty of sleep and exercise, look for ways to de-stress, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and consider kicking any bad habits you have (like smoking).
- What is your natural skin tone?
Dark skin can sometimes be affected by excessive darkening or whitening (also known as “hyperpigmentation” and “hypopigmentation”). In that situation, we’re usually less aggressive with our removal treatments, which means your tattoo will take longer to fade.
On the other hand, lighter skin doesn’t absorb the laser as much as darker skin does, which means that more of the laser’s thermal energy is directed to the tattoo’s ink – and you may notice your tattoo fading more quickly than others.
What about the healing process?
If you’re wondering about how long it takes to heal from tattoo laser removal, we’re going to have to give you the same answer: It depends. Granted, you won’t have any open bleeding or wounds after a treatment session, but the affected area will be warm, raised, and sensitive for a few days. After the first treatment in particular, your skin may look white for up to an hour or so. It may tingle or itch for about a week after a session. And in rare cases, you may develop blisters after the first treatment (but these should scab and fall off on their own within 1-2 weeks after treatment).
How long will it take you to completely heal? It depends on two key variables:
- The strength of your immune system (like we mentioned in the section above).
- How closely you follow your aftercare instructions. For example, you should avoid hot tubs and swimming pools for the first 3 days after your treatment, avoid direct sunlight to the extent possible, and never scratch at any blisters or scabs that form.
If you’d like to read more about how the healing process works, check out our post What Does the Laser Tattoo Removal Healing Process Look Like?
Reach out to our experts at Ink-B-Gone for more info!
When you’re ready to “bite the bullet” and get your tattoo removed, it’s important to find an experienced professional you can trust. And that’s where our team at Ink-B-Gone comes into the picture: we have the skills, tools, and experience to provide tattoo removals that go as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Don’t worry! Before you commit to anything, you can come in for a free consultation, and we’ll discuss our recommendations with you. And be sure to follow us on social media for more helpful tips and guidance: