Does Tattoo Removal Cause Scarring: Laser Tattoo Removal and Side Effects

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Laser tattoo removal is the best removal option in case you don’t like your ink or you need to get rid of it for other reasons. Laser removal is deemed to be the best removal option, but also the safest one; and, we do agree on that.

No other tattoo removal is more successful and less invasive than laser removal. However, there are some things people generally miss mentioning when discussing laser tattoo removal. One of those things is scarring that can potentially occur during or after the removal is done.

So, is that really something that could happen to you, and should you be worried? Moreover, what should you do in case you’re left with a scar instead of ink-free skin? If these are the questions that bother you, then you’re at the right place.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at laser tattoo removal side effects, like scarring, how common they are and what you can do to prevent them?

Laser Tattoo Removal and Scarring?

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

In order to know more about scarring and other side effects, we first need to take a look at the way laser tattoo removal works.

Laser tattoo removal is done using Q-switched lasers, which are considered to be the best on the market for tattoo removal of any kind. They use the photomechanical effect to target the ink in the skin, and the success rate of that targeting depends on the color of the ink. The best ink color for laser tattoo removal is black, while the worst are the brighter colors, like yellow.

The Q-switched lasers work in the following manner;

  • Once placed on the skin, the laser sends a wave of infrared light into the skin, targeting the ink or the tattoo pigment
  • When the light reaches the ink, the ink absorbs it; the darker the tattoo ink, the better absorption
  • Then, the laser starts sending shock waves of energy that are supposed to heat up the ink
  • Once the ink reaches a certain temperature, it starts to dissipate into the surrounding skin

And, that is how laser tattoo removal works. However, it all sounds great and lovely, until you realize that the heating u lasts only a few seconds, and the tattoo requires numerous shock waves to get rid of the ink. That is why it can take between 10 and 30 laser removal sessions to get rid of a tattoo. And, as you can imagine, the higher the number of sessions, the higher the risk of side effects and skin damage.

Does Laser Tattoo Removal Cause Skin Damage?

Skin damage with laser removal is rare but possible. However, to talk about skin damage, we need to take into consideration the following factors;

  • Type of skin (hypersensitivity skin is more likely to experience damage)
  • Placement of the tattoo (if the tattoo is placed where the skin is thin, sensitive, and has a lot of nerve endings, the damage might be more prominent)
  • The size of the tattoo (larger tattoos require more removal sessions, which increases skin damage)
  • Color of the tattoo (skin damage tends to be more probable if the tattoo is lighter)

However, even if you have all the basis for potential skin damage during laser removal, it is still rare, unless you’re not following the aftercare routine properly. Skin damage is also more probable to happen if you get your tattoo removed by someone unprofessional as well. It is the best idea to always get your tattoo removed by trained and experienced professionals at trustworthy and reliable clinics.

What About Scarring?

Finally, we get to talk about the scarring issue. Now, just like skin damage of any kind, scarring is also rare when it comes to laser tattoo removal, but possible in some cases. Let’s just start by saying that laser tattoo removal doesn’t usually end up with a scar; scarring is not a normal and regular outcome of this procedure, especially if it’s done properly.

If the laser removal isn’t done properly; for example, the skin is being heated too long, then the damage of the skin can be pretty serious. The heating of the skin can burn it, which of course, can result in a scar. The same can happen if the procedure is done using an outdated laser, which could burn the skin and cause scarring.

Moreover, if you don’t follow the proper aftercare routine once laser removal is done, you’re also risking improper skin regeneration and healing. This can also result in skin pigmentation issues and scarring.

Now, these scenarios are rare and can be easily avoided if you just go to a reputable laser removal clinic. Experienced professionals do not make such mistakes and they are thorough in their explanation of how you should take care of your skin after the procedure.

Do Other Tattoo Removal Methods Cause Scarring?

Unlike laser tattoo removal, other removal methods can cause serious skin damage and scarring. For example;

  • Surgical tattoo removal – because this procedure includes the tattoo being cut out from the skin, it is safe to say that in most cases it results in a scar. The procedure includes the tattoed skin being cut away, and the remaining skin is stitched together.
  • Dermabrasion tattoo removal – done by using a sanding device to remove the tattooed skin layer, this procedure of dermabrasion can cause serious skin damage, irritation, inflammation, and scarring.

These methods are recommended for tattoo removal methods for many reasons; one of the reasons being skin damage and scarring. Not to mention that they’re not safe and that they do not return the skin to its initial appearance. They’re also not cost-friendly and aren’t effective in the majority of cases.

How To Prevent Scarring and Skin Damage With Laser Removal?

Although rare, scarring after laser tattoo removal can happen. Luckily, there are some ways you can prevent it. Here are hows;

  • Find a reputable clinic and trustworthy professionals – by going for a reputable clinic and high-quality experts you’ll be minimizing any skin damage, let alone scarring. Experts will provide the best care and ensure the laser removal goes smoothly and efficiently.
  • Do not touch the treated skin – after laser removal, the tattooed skin will start to heal, which means it will start to form scabbing and even blisters. If you want to avoid scarring, you better not touch the skin. Do not pick the scabbing or blisters, or scratch the skin. You’ll just prolong the healing process, possibly cause irritation and skin damage in the form of a scar.
  • Wear sunscreen – after your skin was already exposed to heat and light, it should be in your best interest to protect it from further exposure to UV rays and heat. Wear sunscreen to avoid further skin damage and possible scarring. Sunscreen can also help with hyperpigmentation issues after laser removal.
  • Stay healthy – if you want your skin to heal properly and handle skin damage without scarring, then make sure to keep your body healthy. Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, and exercise. All of this will affect and boost your immune system, and in turn, send more white blood cells to the treated area to remove the remaining ink and heal the affected skin tissue.

We have to emphasize again how important it is to do your research and find the best laser removal clinic for your tattoo removal. You must avoid places that seem sketchy and unreliable, where the staff isn’t professional, or where you see even one red flag. Trusted and experienced professionals are the only option if you want your laser tattoo removal to go smoothly.

Are There Any General Risks of Laser Tattoo Removal?

Apart from the rare but possible scarring, laser tattoo removal is considered to be one of the safest tattoo removal procedures. But, of course, just like any procedure, this one also carries certain risks. Those include;

  • The possibility of the laser removal not working – due to a lighter ink color or the large size of the tattoo, laser tattoo removal may not work in all cases. Sometimes the tattoo is too oddly placed, too bright in color, or too large in size for the laser to handle.
  • Your health condition might get in the way or be triggered – sometimes laser removal can trigger a health response or flare up an existing issue if you’re dealing with a health condition. For example, it can trigger eczema, herpes or weaken the immune system overall.
  • There could be some aftercare risks – without proper aftercare, laser tattoo removal can lead to skin damage, blistering, and scarring. You might also be limited to the type of clothes you can wear, so you don’t cause more damage or irritation to the skin.

Are There Other Side Effects of Laser Tattoo Removal?

Some of the general side effects and things you should have in min din regards to laser tattoo removal may include;

  • Potential pain and discomfort during the procedure, or after the procedure
  • Potential scabbing, blistering and itching after the procedure is done
  • You may have to spend more time on each session, since not all laser removal procedures are quick
  • There is always a risk that not all of the ink can be removed
  • You may be required to pay a visit to your dermatologist to see whether your skin can handle laser tattoo removal

Final Thoughts

Unwanted side effects, like skin damage and scarring, are pretty rare and uncommon with laser tattoo removal. Unless your skin is highly sensitive or you suffer from a health/skin condition, you shouldn’t be worried about undergoing a laser removal procedure.

So long you choose a respectable clinic and follow the aftercare routine, your tattoo will be successfully gone. Just make sure to do your homework on this topic, talk to your dermatologist about your skin and tattoo condition and choose a clinic where laser removal is done under proper medical supervision.

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