No! Not generally. The removal process itself should not cause scarring. In fact, there is a very low risk of scars if quality laser tattoo removal equipment is used by qualified specialists.
If there are existing scars, however, they will remain. The laser can remove the tattoo ink, but not scar tissue from the original tattoo.
Problems with scarring don't usually arise from removal treatments, but rather with improper before and aftercare. It is vitally important that appropriate care be given to the affected skin before and following treatment(s).
Here are 7 tips to help you prevent laser tattoo removal scars.
7 Tips to Prevent Laser Tattoo Removal Scars
Seek Out Qualified Removal Specialists with Up-to-Date Equipment As technology has advanced, the risk of tattoo removal scarring has reduced significantly. Older equipment would heat the skin tissue to the point of causing damage and scars.
Newer lasers like the Q-Switched laser shatter ink particles with short pulses of light, leaving the surrounding skin unharmed.
Choose a clinic with up-to-date equipment and qualified technicians. The right equipment in the hands of a well trained professional will reduce your risk of scars exponentially.
Don't Rush to the Finish Line Allow proper healing time between treatments. Expect that time to be 4-8 weeks. Patience will return better overall results.
The more time you give your skin to heal between treatments, the less chance you'll have of experiencing side effects and/or scarring.
Resist the Urge to Scrape, Itch, or Pop After having a tattoo removal treatment, you may experience redness, scabbing, blisters, swelling, and/or itching. This is a normal part of the healing process and can last from a couple hours to a couple weeks.
It's your immune system doing its work to heal and remove the ink.
Picking at scabs or popping blisters can cause scarring and the potential for infection, so DON'T. Scabs and blisters need to heal naturally. Apply ointment when needed and as recommended.
For the same reasons, avoid shaving in the treated area. You can resume shaving after the area has healed properly (within 1-2 weeks).
If you're itchy and you can't ignore it, choose to lightly slap your skin rather than scratch it.
Keep the Treated Area Clean and Dry Wash the treated area with MILD or anti-bacterial soap and water a couple times a day. Dirt can inhibit healing and cause side affects, so it is important to exercise cleanliness throughout the healing process. Avoid scented soaps which can irritate and/or inflame healing skin. Also, avoid letting high pulsating water hit the treated area.
Don't rub your skin dry as that can prematurely cause scabs to come off, forcing the body to form new ones, slow down the healing process, and possibly leave scars. Choose to PAT dry instead.
Don't swim or soak in baths or hot tubs until any scabs and blisters are fully healed. Why? These areas of water contain bacteria that can permeate wounds and cause infection and scarring.
Stay Hydrated Drinking plenty of water both before and after treatment helps speed up the healing process.
Respect the Sun Keep your tattoo out of the sun between removal treatments. Your skin will be sensitive to direct sunlight for several months after your treatment. In fact, the sun can cause blistering and slow down the healing process. Keep the treated area covered throughout the removal process to avoid burns and scars.
When you need to be outdoors, WEAR SUNSCREEN, preferably with an SPF 30. Also, look for sunscreen that contains zinc. Wear it even if your clothes cover it. The sun can penetrate through clothing.
Side Note: Avoid scented lotions as they can irritate treated skin as it's healing.
Say NO to Vices Smoking can reduce the success of tattoo removal by as much as 70%. Why? It restricts circulation, lowering the chance that the shattered ink particles will be carried away from the tattoo. This results in slower fading and a longer time to see removal completion.
Don't drink too much alcohol. Alcohol can dehydrate your skin and impede the ability of your kidneys and liver to flush out the ink. Ensure your vital organs are operating at maximum performance by drinking water instead of alcohol and you'll see better, faster results.
More Aftercare Recommendations
Follow instructions and recommendations provided by your removal specialist as closely as possible.
Apply ointment and change dressing daily. This will protect your skin from infection. Your specialist will advise on the best ointment options for you.
After 3 days (or whatever time frame your specialist recommends), remove your bandages and expose your skin to air. Air is needed to heal and dry out the area treated by the laser.
If you experience discomfort or inflammation, use a cold compress and take Tylenol. Aspirins and ibuprofens should NOT be taken as they raise the risk of bleeding or bruising.
Once the treated area has healed, massage around it for about 5-10 minutes daily. This will stimulate your lymphs to clear away the old cells holding the ink particles and potentially speed up the removal process.