We break down the difference between laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal and explore why the former shouldn’t be used to remove permanent ink.
A lot of cosmetic procedures these days use laser technology, so it’s common to have questions about whether the same laser can be used for different treatments, or whether you can have laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal on top of each other.
But first, let’s look at what each procedure involves, because there is a difference between laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal.
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What is laser tattoo removal?
Laser tattoo removal is a procedure that uses a laser to directly target the ink in your skin, breaking it down so your body can flush away the particles.
What is laser hair removal?
While laser hair removal also uses a laser in the procedure, it targets hair follicles at the root. This makes it difficult for the hair to grow.
Can laser hair removal remove a tattoo?
No, laser hair removal is not effective for removing tattoos. Laser tattoo removal and laser hair removal are two different procedures that use lasers to achieve different results. While both procedures use lasers to target specific areas of the body, the type of laser and the way it is used differ depending on the desired outcome. Tattoos are created by injecting ink into the dermis layer of the skin, whereas laser hair removal targets the melanin in the hair follicles. Laser tattoo removal is the most effective and safest way to break up the ink in tattoos so that the body can remove it. The laser used in hair removal will not be able to target the ink in the tattoo and may cause burns, blisters, and scarring to the tattooed area. It's not recommended to use laser hair removal to remove tattoos as it is not the right kind of laser treatment for that purpose.
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What’s the difference between a laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal device?
Here are the main differences:
Desired outcome: laser tattoo removal devices are specifically designed to clear ink pigment from the skin, whereas laser hair removal devices focus on targeting the hair and hair follicles.
The type of laser used: laser tattoo removal typically uses the average Pico laser, while laser hair removal typically uses an intense pulsed light (IPL) laser or a diode laser.
The number of treatments required: laser tattoo removal typically requires several treatments spaced several weeks apart, while laser hair removal often requires fewer treatments.
The cost: laser tattoo removal is typically more expensive than laser hair removal, but this can depend entirely on the size of the area being treated and other factors.
Let’s get into the details.
Trying to swap out different laser procedures to achieve a result is like trying to swap a fork for a spoon. The tools aren’t right to get the best results. While laser hair removal is effective at stopping hair growth on a permanent basis, the laser’s energy isn’t designed or calibrated effectively to break down ink pigment in a way that the body can successfully clear it from the body through the lymphatic system. Instead, you run the risk of harming the skin, having complications or causing potential scars and blisters.
Likewise, the same is true for trying to use a tattoo removal laser to remove unwanted hair. The results are unlikely to be successful.
The type of laser used
Laser tattoo removal involves the use of a specialized laser that emits short pulses of intense light. The light from the laser is absorbed by the tattoo pigment, causing it to break down into smaller particles. The body's immune system then removes the particles, resulting in the fading of the tattoo over time. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, uses a different type of laser that is specifically designed to target the melanin in hair follicles. The laser emits a beam of light that is absorbed by the melanin, heating up the hair follicle and damaging it. This damage prevents the hair from growing back, resulting in long-term hair reduction. One of the main differences between laser tattoo removal and laser hair removal is the type of laser used. Laser tattoo removal typically uses an average Pico laser, which produces short pulses of high-energy light. This type of laser is specifically designed to target the tattoo pigment without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, typically uses an intense pulsed light (IPL) laser or a diode laser, which is less powerful but still effective at damaging hair follicles.
The number of treatments required
Another key difference between the two procedures is the number of treatments required to achieve the desired results. Laser tattoo removal typically requires several treatments spaced several weeks apart, as the body's immune system gradually removes the broken-down tattoo pigment. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, often requires fewer treatments, as the hair follicles are damaged with each treatment and are unable to regrow.
The cost of the two procedures also differs. Laser tattoo removal is typically more expensive than laser hair removal, as it requires specialized equipment and trained personnel to operate it. The lasers are high-tech and require the right knowledge and specific qualifications to administer the treatments safely and successfully. We don’t recommend any at-home laser devices as they tend to not be safe, regulated or calibrated correctly to achieve optimal results. Laser hair removal is often more affordable, as the equipment and training required are less specialized and you can purchase at-home devices as well.
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If you’re thinking of getting rid of a tattoo, seek out top-of-the-line laser tattoo removal service like NAAMA
If you’re considering getting rid of some unwanted ink, you’ll probably want to seek out the top-of-the-line tattoo removal laser. NAAMA’s LightSense® is the best out there, able to effectively clear ink without causing long-term damage. What makes NAAMA different from other tattoo removal places?
Tough on your tattoos, kind on your skin.
We’re the only studio in the world using the LightSense® laser system that doesn't leave any permanent damage behind.
Faster results in less time.
Experience removals in months, not years.
Safes on all skin types and tones.
We’re the safest laser tattoo removal for darker skin tones. It’s all thanks to our lower energy and precise spot size.
Less energy, less pain.
LightSense® is the most painless tattoo removal technology thanks to lower energy levels and even distribution.
Ultra precise spot size.
A minuscule laser spot size ensures we’re targeting the ink particles, and not the surrounding skin. Perfect for cosmetic tattoos and partial removals.
Bespoke treatment plans.
Our expertly trained consultants are the only team in the world certified to use the LightSense® laser. They’ll create a personalized plan to suit your skin, tattoo and removal goals.
And as long as you stick to a good aftercare regime, the healing process does not take long at all and we can have you back in for treatment every 2-3 weeks.
Can you have laser hair removal over a tattooed area?
If you have a tattoo and want to have laser hair removal over the top, there are some caveats. Your laser hair removal technician won’t use the laser over your tattoo. This is because there’s a chance that the laser beam will affect the tattoo, even though it can’t remove it completely. For this reason, your laser technician will avoid your tattooed area, as well as the two to three centimeters of skin surrounding your tattoo. If your technician accidentally lasers your tattoo while removing your hair, it can lead to burns and blistering, and distort your tattoo.
Can I get a tattoo after I’ve had laser hair removal?
It’s entirely possible to get a tattoo on an area of skin that you’ve had laser hair removal on. It’s best to wait until your skin has completely healed from the laser removal treatments before you get a new tattoo to ensure the skin is fully recovered and ready for treatment.
The bottom line - don’t use a laser hair removal device to remove a tattoo
In conclusion, laser tattoo removal and laser hair removal are two different procedures that use lasers to achieve different results. While both procedures use lasers to target specific areas of the body, the type of laser and the way it is used differ depending on the desired outcome. Laser tattoo removal is the most effective method to remove a tattoo, and it’s the procedure you’ll want to seek out if that’s your goal. While effective at removing hair, laser hair removal isn’t a recommended method for clearing ink.