What are the risk factors involved in laser tattoo removal?

Laser tattoo removal is among the most popular methods for tattoo removal. However, as with any invasive procedure, it does not come without risks.

First and foremost, the location and the type of ink used are key factors in whether or not a tattoo can be successfully removed via laser tattoo removal. Lasers work by breaking up the ink particles so that the immune system can rid the body of these foreign substances. However as stated by the FDA, no one knows the short- or long-term consequences of how pigments break down after laser treatment.

The client’s skin type is another factor, as darker skins may be more prone to scarring. Cosmetic tattoos on the face are particularly tricky to remove, regardless of skin type, as facial skin is more delicate than elsewhere on the body which makes it more susceptible to scarring and pigmentation issues. Furthermore, studies that have documented the successful removal of tattoo ink have typically involved a variety of different lasers used on body tattoo inks – colors such as black, blue-green, and red-yellow-orange and not the wider range of more muted colors used for cosmetic tattoo pigments. Particularly where cosmetic tattoo ink used for permanent makeup is concerned, formulations with titanium dioxide may cause the color to turn even darker with laser tattoo removal. And because lasers target color for removal, any dark hair in the area of ink to be removed may also be lost in the process.

Given the range of variables such location of ink, type of ink, density, skin type, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment protocol for laser tattoo removal. Nor are there standard recommendations currently in place for time intervals between laser tattoo removal treatments; usually intervals of 3, 4, 6, and 8 weeks or longer have been recommended. Damage to the skin such as scarring and pigmentation issues are usually associated with accelerating the laser tattoo removal process too quickly, when appropriate lasers were not used, or if the pulse duration of the laser light was too strong and there was not enough time for the targeted area to cool.



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