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Lasering A Large Tattoo (or several)

Lasered sleeve

I recently included this client’s tattoo in a Facebook advertisement which has worked out very well in that I’ve had several new enquiries on the back of it. Regular followers on my social media accounts will have seen many of this client’s tattoos as I am lasering off most of 2 full sleeves, his back and shoulders, his sides/torso and his leg. The vast majority of his ink has only been lasered once so far, with a couple of areas such as his shoulder below now resting after 2 laser treatments. Large tattoos should be lasered in segments not much bigger than a man’s palm and I keep sessions around 2 weeks apart. You don’t want to overwork the immune system by giving it too much ink to deal with (poor results) and you don’t want to give the skin too much of a surface area to recover/heal in one go. This is especially true if the tattoo is very dark and dense as far more laser energy will usually be absorbed.

Lasered shoulder

If you think that professional tattoos can take 10-20 sessions to remove, this client is seeing some amazing results. He will probably only need 3 sessions on each area before his skin is ready for new ink (yes, he’s having cover-up tattoos!).

But why? The main reason I think is because most of his ink is what tattooists might call ‘shading’ and I’m told this involves placing ink in at a shallower depth in the skin, whereas outlines or line work tend to go in vertically and deeper. This would be why the cherry blossom outlines are a little bit more stubborn (but not much!). He also heals very well and quickly so I’m assuming he’s physically very fit and healthy. Even this client, though, sees different responses on different body parts where one bit of ink might not go as easily as in other areas. It is true that you can laser the same client and get different results for different tattoos as there are so many variables at play. For example, depth of ink, colour of ink, where on the body, age of tattoo, type of ink used, client’s immune system/health and even which tattooists.

In my area we had a tattooist called John Tibbits who tattoo’d locals for many years (including my husband). Now if someone comes to me with an old ‘Tibbits’ tattoo I’m fairly certain to get a quick result on fading/removing ink. Maybe he used weaker ink? Or maybe his technique involved placing the ink shallower? Conversely, there was another tattooist (who shall remain nameless) who was very heavy handed. Dark, dark ink…placed very thick in the skin….sometimes I can feel the ink level raised above the skin. These tattoos take a lot of work (especially when over a large area e.g the tribal tattoos that were very popular a few years ago) and quite often skin is damaged at the time of tattooing. Suffice to say, no 2 cases are ever the same even different tattoos on the same client.

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