The ultimate goal for both laser tattoo removal professionals and clients, should be a shared interest of maximum results with minimal treatments. However, tattoo removal is not always easy. As much as laser manufacturers and certain laser tattoo removal clinics would like us to believe, there is no magic wand or magic laser that can fully remove all tattoos in a predetermined number of treatments. The level of success varies from person to person and from tattoo to tattoo.
With this in mind, there are a number of factors that determine how many treatments will be needed and the level of success one might experience. Age of tattoo, ink density, color and even where the tattoo is located on the body, all play an important role in how many treatments will be needed for complete removal. However, a rarely recognized factor of tattoo removal is the role of the client’s immune response. The normal process of tattoo removal is fragmentation followed by phagocytosis which is then drained away via the lymphatics. Consequently, it’s the inflammation resulting from the actual laser treatment and the natural stimulation of the hosts’s immune response that ultimately results in removal of tattoo ink; thus variations in results are enormous.
Since we have no control over one’s immune system, it’s nearly impossible to estimate with 100% accuracy how many treatments will be needed for complete removal. Combined with other variables (ink density, age of tattoo, color, etc), to say with any level of confidence that a tattoo will be 100% gone after a certain number of treatments may be misleading to the client.
If you’d like to decrease the total number of treatments needed and increase the likely hood of a successful removal, our recommendation is as follows: 1) Seek a highly experienced laser professional who has a proven track record of results and make sure the results that are presented to you are actual treatments he or she has completed themselves, not before and after photos that were provided to them from the laser manufacturer 2) Make sure the laser or technology they are operating is among the best available, and 3) Try to live a healthy lifestyle. The client’s immune system plays a very important role in tattoo removal and generally, healthier people tend to move ink quicker than those who aren’t.
Authored by: Dustin Nelson, Owner of Fallen Ink Tattoo Removal
“Optimizing Laser Tattoo Removal.” J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2015 Jan-Mar; 8(1): 16–24.