Will Laser Tattoo Removal Leave A Scar?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 16, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Modern advances and new treatments now make it possible for tattoos to be less indelible. Removal can be partial or full, depending on your requirements. You might, for example, just want a name or symbol removed rather than the whole design. 

Removing a tattoo can leave a scar, no matter which removal technique you use — with the exception being creams. It’s widely accepted that the most successful and popular removal method is laser treatment, with most creams being highly ineffective and only minimally fading the appearance of most tattoos.

What Causes Tattoo Scarring?

It would be presumptuous to say that tattoo removal never causes scarring. There’s always a possibility that it might happen, no matter how skilled the removal specialist. If scarring occurs, it’s often the result of having a tattoo in the first place. 

When you have a tattoo, it damages the skin. It requires skill on the part of the tattoo artist to prevent the ink from being placed too deep. If you didn’t notice any scarring when the tattoo was first done, you might notice it after removal. 

Scarring can also occur if you don’t prepare the tattoo correctly before the removal procedure. Similarly, not following the aftercare instructions could also leave a scar. 

8 Tips to Prevent Scarring

While you may experience problems with scarring, it’s not usual if you take the right precautions before and after the treatment. Here are eight tips to help you reduce the risk of tattoo removal scars.

  1. Qualified removal specialist: choose a removal clinic with the latest equipment and qualified technicians
  2. Don’t rush the healing process: allow 4 to 8 weeks between each laser treatment
  3. Don’t scratch, pick or itch the area: scabs are a vital part of the healing process, and they need to heal naturally
  4. The area must be kept clean and dry: you can wash it with a mild soap, but make sure you pat it dry afterward rather than rubbing
  5. Stay out of the sun: your skin will be sensitive for several months, so wear sunscreen if you have to go outdoors
  6. Keep yourself hydrated: you can help the healing process by drinking lots of water
  7. Smoking and drinking should be kept to a minimum: both vices reduce the chance of successful tattoo removal
  8. Follow the aftercare recommendations: these typically include applying ointment and changing dressings daily

Common Reasons for Wanting Tattoo Removal

People choose to be tattooed for a variety of reasons. For example, they might want a symbol of friendship or a declaration of undying love. It might even be a case of making a statement. Whatever the reason, things may change over time and a tattoo is no longer a suitable body adornment.

There are several common reasons why people choose to remove their tattoos:

  • A relationship is over, and they want to forget about it
  • Embarrassment or out of date
  • Poor quality
  • Tattoo has become distorted
  • Having a family
  • Employment rules concerning visible tattoos
  • Wanting something new

What Tattoo Treatments Are Available?

Almost a quarter of Americans with a tattoo aren’t happy with them. For whatever reason, they regret having it done and want it removed, which is where laser removal steps in.

How Does Laser Removal Work?

Laser tattoo removal works not by burning the tattoo but by sending light energy into the skin. It uses different wavelengths of light, depending on the color of the ink being removed. Black pigments aren’t the easiest color to treat because it absorbs all light wavelengths.

When the ink particles absorb the energy from the laser, they shatter into small pieces. Your body’s immune system then goes into overdrive to eradicate the ink over a few weeks. Several laser treatments later, and after some moderate pain, the tattoo should no longer be visible. 

What Other Treatments Are Available?

  • Dermabrasion — uses a metal grinding tool to remove the outer layer of skin
  • Chemical peel — uses a mild acid applied to the skin
  • Surgical excision — simply cutting away the skin where the tattoo is
  • Tattoo removal creams — although the results of these are very poor

All of these treatments, barring the removal cream, have the potential to cause scarring. 

The Chance of Scarring Can be Reduced

It’s no longer the case that a tattoo is for life. You can have it removed successfully, and there are several ways to do it. That being said, scarring can happen. If you don’t take the right steps or choose a skilled removal specialist, the chance is much higher.

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