MARCH 13, 2023

How long does laser tattoo removal take?

When London tattoo removal clients ask 'how long will it take to remove my tattoo?' we usually answer that it depends, in part, on how healthy their immune system is. That’s because once the ink particles are broken down by the LightSense™ laser your body must flush them out. A strong immune system helps this process along.

The LightSense™ laser uses ultra-low levels of energy to break down ink pigments and so clients' tattoos can be treated more frequently, every 2-3 weeks as opposed to 6-8 with other lasers. LightSense™ offers tattoo removal in months, not years.

Aside from the technology used, there are other factors that influence the time it will take for you to remove a tattoo from your skin. These include:

  • Tattoo location

  • Ink density

  • Quality of the ink

For instance, a tattoo located close to your heart where the circulation is good should clear faster.

To demonstrate how these factors can impact how long laser tattoo removal takes, we speak to Bella. She removed two tattoos from different parts of her body at NAAMA's studio.

Though the tattoos were both treated during the same sessions, by the fifth session it became clear that the tattoo on her arm was fading much faster than the two flowers on her chest.

So how long did it take Bella to remove her tattoos?

Where is the tattoo on your body?

Five years ago, Bella got a tattoo of a mermaid on her arm, as well as edelweiss and a sunflower on her chest to evoke the places she grew up - Switzerland and Italy. But the latter two didn’t turn out how she had hoped.

“These two tattoos I want removed because they weren’t what I wanted. They are quite bulky, so I want to get rid of them.”

As for the mermaid, she wanted it removed for a straightforward reason: “every time someone asks, ‘what’s that,’ they yank my arm to see it. I’m so done with that.”

While she saw quick results on her arm, the two tattoos on her chest took longer to remove.

Nevertheless, Bella got the results she was after in the end. “I’m so happy with the process. It’s only been 5-6 sessions and I’m already more than halfway done.”

For many clients the most satisfying aspect of removing a tattoo with the LightSense™ laser is that you see the results over weeks instead of months. “It’s awesome to see the process happen as you do it.”

This is because the laser uses ultra-low energy and so clients can be treated every 2-3 weeks, as opposed to over a period of months as with other pico lasers.

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Before treatment

Here’s Bella’s black ink tattoo before the start of her tattoo removal journey.

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After 2 sessions

The ink particles begin to break down in the dermis.

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After 3 sessions

The original form of the tattoo fades, with only the last of the black ink left.

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After 6 sessions

Bella sees amazing results. She's left with beautiful, clear skin.

The colour, density, and depth of the ink

The colour, density, and depth of the ink all play a part in how long it will take for the LightSense™ laser to remove your tattoo. As you might expect, faint ink will likely clear faster than dense ink.

Darker colours absorb a broader spectrum of light and so black, blue, green, and deep purple tattoos are easier to remove than white, which can be much more difficult.

While the LightSense™ laser is adept at removing black ink from all Fitzpatrick skin types, it is not yet possible to safely remove coloured ink from types 4-6. We recommend that you speak with one of our consultants if you are looking to remove coloured ink from your skin.

The quality of the ink

It is difficult to predict how a tattoo will fade through treatment because tattoo ink is an under-regulated product. Unfortunately, it’s not as if there’s a single type of ink that every artist uses.

The picture is much more complicated. Researchers have shown that in many cases tattoo ink is not properly labelled and so it can be difficult to tell what it contains. Worryingly, they’ve also raised the alarm that some inks might contain harmful carcinogens.

Tattoo ink is even manufactured from ingredients that were never intended to be put into your skin in the first place - like printer ink.

So how do the consultants at NAAMA assess your tattoo when you come to us with ink that could contain any number of ingredients?

“We don’t know how the tattoo will react to the treatment, as everyone is different,” says Leslie, who deals with NAAMA’s clients. “But when we start treating the tattoo we get a much better idea of how the ink will fade.”

These inksights, ahem, come as the client progresses through the treatment. After a consultation looking at the specifics of your tattoo it is possible to make better estimates about how long it will take to remove it.

If you are concerned about ink quality your best bet is to do some online research and seek out a trusted distributor. Speak to artists, people with tattoos, and those who own shops when you plan to get a tattoo and ask questions about the ink you're going to be putting in your body.

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A healthy immune system

We cannot overstate the importance of a healthy immune system for clearing tattoos.

At the risk of sounding like a nagging parent, there are seven simple ways to get the most out of your treatment. As many ways as there are deadly sins.

  • Drink water

  • Get active

  • Eat well

  • Try a massage

  • Be safe in the sun

  • Limit your alcohol consumption

  • Avoid stress

These are all easier said than done, we know. But if your body is hydrated, well-rested, and physically fit you will greatly improve your chances of achieving good results through laser tattoo removal.

95 percent of the fluid in the lymphatic system – the part that clears out toxins – is water. So, make sure to ask for a glass of water during your sessions.

A massage can help the lymphatic system to work effectively at clearing ink particles from your skin and also assists with number seven on our list: avoiding stress.

So, how long does a laser tattoo removal session take?

Zooming out, we can answer the question, how long does a laser tattoo removal session take? As Bella can vouch, “it only lasted a few minutes - not even - it’s so quick.”

While we cannot say for certain how many sessions it will take for a client's tattoo to clear - there is no one-size-fits-all response - we can confidently say that the individual sessions are quick and relatively painless. “It hurt for two seconds and now I’m over it. And it didn’t hurt afterwards.”

For more insight into how many sessions it will take you to remove a tattoo, speak to one of our consultants or book a consultation and patch test.

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