By now you know that your unwanted tattoo is not going to disappear in a day, a week, or even a month. It's a journey. Understanding what to expect along the journey can help you set reasonable expectations and plan for the best time to book each procedure.
Going on a fun in the sun vacation soon? You'll definitely NOT want to plan a removal treatment two days before leaving. Among other things, the treated area needs to stay out of direct sunlight and out of water. Regardless, do you really want to be dealing with skin that is healing while you're on holidays? Not likely.
And what about those initials of an old partner you desperately want to remove before you get married? Don't leave it till 2 months before your wedding. Adequate healing time is required between procedures and two treatments won't be enough to get rid of a tattoo. Even if you're a quick healer, you'll want to wait at least four weeks between treatments.
1064nm and 532nm are the most popular wavelengths used in tattoo removal. CoLaz uses the Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser which can achieve both.
1st Tattoo Removal Procedure
You will feel heat while the procedure is being done. You'll also hear a crackling noise as the laser rapid fires (about 10 shots a second), causing the ink to break up. The average treatment will take only a few minutes.
Following the treatment, you will experience some bleeding, crusting, scabbing, and/or swelling. The area will heal in about 2-3 weeks. It will take about 6 weeks for your body to clear away the ink that was broken up during the treatment.
How much the ink will fade during that first treatment will depend on factors like the age of the tattoo, how much ink was used for the tattoo, and how deep the ink is in the skin.
In some cases you may not see a huge difference after the first session. In other cases there will be a significant difference. Your consultation prior to beginning the treatments will have provided some indication of what results to expect for your removal.
2nd-5th Tattoo Removal Procedures
Your tattoo could fade as much as 50% between the first and 5th procedures.
Considering there are 6-8 week wait times between sessions, it's a good idea to keep a photo diary of your progress.
The percentage of fading will vary from treatment to treatment. It's easy to forget how dark the original tattoo was after seeing faded versions for many months. Your progress photos will provide encouragement during the wait times.
6th-15th Tattoo Removal Procedures
Most tattoos will be completely cleared or barely visible somewhere between the 6th and 15th procedure. Of course, that will depend on several factors. Your removal specialist will have discussed those factors with you during your initial consultation.
There are some colors that are tougher to remove than others (eg, orange and yellow are significantly more challenging then purple or blue) and that will contribute to how much progress has been made by this stage in your treatments.
As well, the size of your tattoo, depth of the ink, and your immune system will play a part in how many procedures are needed. A healthy immune system helps to flush away the broken down ink much faster than a weak one.
16th + Tattoo Removal Procedures
Even if you had a challenging tattoo to remove, you will have seen significant fading by this stage.
Reevaluate with your specialist to address any road blocks you may be experiencing that might prevent you from a full tattoo removal.
If the treatments are proceeding well, continue procedures through to complete removal.