So many patients want to know the exact number of treatments it takes to remove a tattoo. Unfortunately, the fact is, there are no accurate ways to predict how many treatments it will take to eradicate a tattoo. Instead, several factors determine the length of tattoo removal treatment time.
This article will discuss some of these factors and how the tattoo process works. But, first, let’s start with a quick anatomy session.
Anatomy of the Skin
There are three layers of the skin:
· Epidermis (outermost, continually growing and healing)
· Dermis ( middle layer, location of nerve endings, capillaries, and the extracellular matrix)
· Hypodermis (fat stores and vasculature referred to as the deep dermis)
Tattoo ink lies in three different positions in the dermis (See Above). Black and Grays sit up against the subcutaneous layer, where tissue meets the skin. Blues and Greens sit mid-skin. They’re still in the dermis but near the very top. Finally, any colors in the red family (warm colors), Yellows, and Oranges reside in the top layer of the dermis, known as the epidermis. Whites sit on top of everything.
Once the ink is deposited (tattoed) in the skin, fibroblasts and immune cells envelope the ink particles in the deeper layers of the skin. As a result, the ink deposited in the more superficial layer, the epidermis, will shed. After three months, the appearance of the tattoo will stay relatively stagnant. However, the body still recognizes the ink as foreign and slowly chips away at it.
Variables Involved in the Tattoo Removal Process
One reality everyone seeking laser tattoo removal should know is that the laser doesn’t remove the tattoo; your immune system does all of the work. The laser speeds up the process by blasting the ink into tiny particles, and your immune system then carries the ink away through the lymphatic system. As a result, those with a robust immune system will require fewer treatments than those who are immunocompromised.
Other factors related to how many treatments it takes to remove a tattoo include:
· Age of the tattoo: Newer tattoos (less than ten years old) take longer than an older tattoo
· Location of the tattoo: Tattoos closer to the heart clear faster than tattoos on the extremities (due to blood flow)
· Health status: An athlete will clear ink more quickly than an immunocompromised patient (type 1 diabetes, HIV positive, chemotherapy, elderly)
· Color of the ink: Blacks and Reds are the easiest colors to remove. Blues and Greens used to be very difficult to remove with older technology. But newer lasers can remove all colors. We can now remove every ink color using our state-of-the-art Astanza Trinity Laser System.
· Professional versus homemade tattoos: Today’s inks are very sophisticated; most are based in metal salts. On the other hand, homemade tattoos are not so refined. Homemade tattoos can be made from melted-down styrofoam cups, colored pencils, rubber tires, pen ink, and baby oil.
The time it takes to remove a given tattoo depends on several aforementioned factors. Unfortunately, many patients want the tattoo removed in one or two sessions, which is unreasonable.
A new tattoo is meant to last for 70 plus years. So although removal doesn’t happen overnight, comparatively, it takes a fraction of the time to remove it.
Tattoo removal can take anywhere from 3-to 12 sessions. On average, however, 6-8 sessions is what we see. By coming in for a FREE consultation, we can give you a much better idea of how many sessions you might require to remove your tattoo.