There are many factors which can affect the number of treatments necessary to effectively complete removal of a tattoo:
- Amateur or professional tattoo – Amateur tattoos are easier to remove as usually they are not as deep as professional tattoos and the ink is more sparsely applied. Amateur tattoos are usually only a single colour (black or blue), whereas many professional tattoos are multi coloured.
- Type of ink used – The pigment types are divided into plant pigment, mixture of different pigments and chemical pigments. The plant based pigment is the easiest to dispel, while the chemical pigment is the most difficult. If pigment contains contains iron and lead in the mixture and chemical pigment, it may not react well to laser treatments and can be difficult to remove.
- Depth of ink – Generally speaking the deeper the pigment, the more difficult to remove and it may take many times to dispel. The tattoo will easily dispel if the depth of the pigment is thin. Any treatment will not react well if the pigment is chemically based, even if the depth of the pigment is thin.
- Colours in tattoo – Black and blue tattoos are the easiest to remove while the green and yellow pigments are the hardest, there is not an ideal wavelength that either of these colours absorb. Tattoos that have had white (titanium oxide) applied cannot be removed until the white has faded. UV inks cannot be treated.
- Age of tattoo – Older tattoos are usually easier to treat, new tattoos contain more pigment and often multiple colours.
- Clients healing ability - Many different factors affect healing: physique of a person, age, skin, body immunity, colour of skin and so on. Generally speaking 3 – 4 weeks healing is required between treatments.
On average, professional tattoos require 5-10 treatments, while amateur tattoos may require 4 or more treatments due to the different composition of inks. Treatments are spaced approximately four to eight weeks apart. The number of treatments depends on the amount and type of ink used and the depth of the ink in the skin. Having realistic expectations of treatment results is important and complete removal of pigment can never be guaranteed. During the consultation, your treatment regimen will be reviewed and any questions you have will be answered.
What to be aware of:
Some DIY or overseas pigments within a tattoo can contain banned or hazardous materials, for example, iron-oxide materials. The problem with this is that these pigments can turn black when exposed to a laser beam. In other words, it can make the tattoo look worse. If you have had the tattoo overseas or from an unknown source please inform us and we can complete a patch test beforehand to see if the pigments in your tattoo contain any such materials. Laser tattoo removal does not work for everyone and we will discuss the various scenarios with you depending on the colour, type of ink and depth of ink. This then gives you the choice of deciding whether to go ahead or not with the treatment.
The New Zealand government has published Guidelines for tattoo and permanent makeup substances. See the government details here