How Long Does Laser Removal Take To Fade a Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 17, 2022
    Last Updated: January 17, 2022

It is not uncommon for people who have had tattoos earlier on in their lives to have a change of heart, especially about the choice of tattoo they had made. And this is why we recommend that you put a lot of thought and purpose into the tattoo design you choose in the first place. 

Luckily, laser tattoo removal can eliminate any regrettable ink choices and start all over on a clean slate.

So, just how long after the laser tattoo removal will the tattoo fade? This article tells you when to expect your laser tattoo removal results and other factors influencing the process.

What Is Really True About Tattoo Removal?

The apprehension surrounding laser tattoo removal and when to expect results is mainly brought about by misinformation. All we hear is that it is insanely painful, probably even more than getting the tattoo in the first place. Also, it’s pretty expensive and usually only worth it if you have the money to spare. 

However, nothing can beat the feeling of relief once you have done away with that tattoo you no longer want.

The Science Behind Laser Tattoo Removal

Not too long ago, getting a tattoo was a permanent and irreversible process. You could not back out once you had gotten it. Today, multiple strides in technology have made it possible to reverse the tattoo and get it off completely. So how does this work?

State-of-the-art laser technology harnesses the power of a laser beam and explicitly targets the ink pigments inside your skin where the tattoo is. The laser emits focused rays that specifically target the colors that appear in your tattoo. 

The pigments in ink absorb that energy and rupture. Once the particles have been blasted into tiny fragments, your body recognizes them as foreign elements and absorbs them. Your immune system powers the entire process.

Tattoo Fading Is a Biological Process

After laser tattoo removal, the process takes time because it is a biological process. After the laser targets and raptures the ink fragments in the skin specifically, the immune system takes over the next step.

Naturally, the skin is a complex body organ, and its integrity is regulated by the body’s immune system, specifically white blood cells. The body can detect foreign substances once they enter the body, like tattoo ink, and move to get rid of them by absorbing and trapping them within the cell. 

In ordinary cases, it can clear these elements with specialized white blood cells called macrophages. Under normal circumstances, the macrophages absorb potentially dangerous particles and dispose of them.

Tattoo ink is problematic because while the macrophages can absorb it, they cannot let it go. If a macrophage containing tattoo ink ruptures, the ink is absorbed by other macrophages, which goes on in a seemingly never-ending loop. That is why tattoos stay in your skin permanently unless you seek out cosmetic removal treatment.

Laser treatment removes the tattoo by blasting the tattoo ink particles into small fragments for the macrophages to eliminate, breaking the loop. 

Factors Affecting the Rate of Fading

Now that we have established that this is an elaborate body immune process, it’s essential to appreciate that the body needs some time after every session to heal. This explains why tattoos fade after the laser removal process and not during.

Tattoo removal or fading can take a period of anywhere between months and one to two years. You cannot do it in one sitting since the sessions are spaced three months apart. The body has to take some time to respond and deal with the cleansing process.

However, people’s bodies react differently. So here are some factors that may affect the fading rate.

Your Body’s Immune System

The laser breaks down the tattoo fragments into smaller disposable particles, but the immune system removes the particles. The strength of your immune system plays a massive part in the rate of tattoo fading after laser removal. 

People with more active immunities will have their tattoos fade very fast. Those with less active ones will notice slower fading of their tattoos.

Age and Depth of Tattoo Ink

Newer tattoos require healing first before laser removal can happen. So, if you hate your tattoo immediately and want to get it out, you have to wait. 

Older tattoos can easily be worked on through laser removal. 

Depth is another tricky factor because tattoos are done at different levels. The deeper, more professional ones take longer to remove than amateur tattoos.

Location and Size of Tattoo

The size of the tattoo makes sense as a factor that affects the rate of fading. You cannot compare how a tiny tattoo would disappear with how a full sleeve tattoo would fade. The latter would require more sessions and a lot more patience than the former.

Tattoos closer to your heart fade faster than ones that are far away. This is because areas near your heart get stronger blood circulation meaning more immune system cell activity. Tattoos located further away receive less circulation hence a lower immune system activity. 

The Color of the Tattoo Ink

Some colors fade faster than others. For instance, darker colors will fade faster than lighter ones. The colors green and orange pose a particular challenge, and even though they will fade eventually, they will take their sweet time.

So do not panic if you see some colors take longer to fade away because it’s normal. It will all fade eventually but may require more sessions.

Pace Yourself

You will do yourself a favor if you remember that it takes some time for the tattoo to fade after laser tattoo removal. Do not compare your process with the time other people took because body immune systems work differently in different people. 

Keep in mind all the factors we have stated above, one of them is bound to be the one slowing down or speeding up the rate at which your tattoo is fading after laser tattoo removal. Most importantly, only visit a qualified professional.

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