So, you've got a tattoo you hate, whether it's an exe’s name or a drunken decision that took 6 hours and left you with a unicorn that just happens to cover 90% of your back (true story), you want it gone. Luckily, you have options aside from parkas or blatant shame that can turn a bad decision into a distant memory.
Both Laser tattoo removal and tattoo cover ups have come a long way in the past 10 years and both may be viable options, however which is right for you?
The art of taking a new (hopefully better) and tattooing over the old bad tattoo. Good cover up artists learn to mask the worst parts of the old tattoo in busy areas in the new tattoo to trick the eye into not seeing a cover up.
You can never completely hide the old piece so the goal is to camouflage it in colours and textures to take the eye away from the previous piece. Often times artists will try to incorporate the lines from the older tattoo into the camouflage.
-Less expensive than laser
-More immediate result
-End up with a larger tattoo
-Less painful than Laser
-You still have the tattoo
-Cover ups tend to be larger and darker
-Only get one shot to cover something because trying to cover up a cover up or even laser remove a cover up is much harder
-Design choices become greatly limited
-High chance you still won't be happy with the results
Laser Tattoo Removal
The process of shooting specific and targeted wavelengths of light directly into your skin to burst the ink particle in your skin and allow your body to remove the ink naturally using it's immune system.
Good lasers now feature multiple wavelengths to target all tattoo colours, lasers can not remove all the colours in a tattoo without more than one wavelength. We recommend either a 3 wavelength PICO or a 4 wavelength Nd:YAG laser.
PICO is a newer technology that uses sound waves to break up the ink, the technology is new to the industry and requires fewer sessions to full remove the tattoo however - it comes with a higher price tag.
Nd:YAG technology was the industry standard, it has been successfully tested and improved on over the years providing consistent and safe results. The standard is a 3 wavelength machine but we highly recommend the Asclepion TattooStar Combo machine as it has 4 wavelengths and a square spot which can target 100% of the colour spectrum and allows more consistent targeting with no overlap (no chance of over treating the skin). Typically you'll need more sessions that you would with a PICO but you're getting a more reliable method of removal and paying less.
Be weary of cheap lasers, stock photos in sites and promises that seem to good to be true.
-Complete removal with a good laser
-You have the option to only do a few sessions to lighten a tattoo so that you can then cover it with any design you want
-Sessions are extremely quick
-Can not remove scar tissue
-Known to be painful (personally I found it more painful than tattooing, BUT very quick bursts that feel like a hot elastic band or bacon grease)
-Can be VERY expensive
-Takes months to years to completely remove a tattoo
With both Laser Removal or Cover ups make sure you do your research - a poor artist will leave you with another tattoo you regret and want to cover and a poor laser technician or sub-par laser will leave you frustrated and spending thousands to have little to no success or worse, scars or burns from incorrect treatment.
Tattoo Removal creams do not work. They can not reach deep enough into the skin to actually remove ink, they can however scar the skin above the tattoo, creating an illusion of lightening through scar tissue.
Injecting or tattooing these types of products into the skin to ensure the product reaches the actual ink particles will also cause skin damage and scarring and does not work.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Lasers work by targeting the ink particles in the skin, short pulses of light energy is pulsed into the skin at a specific wavelength to cause the targeted ink particle colour to shatter into tiny pieces (pieces small enough that your body can force them out the same way it fights other foreign bodies).
Each colour has a corresponding wavelength that once targeted with will absorb and then shatter. For example if you hit a blue with a wavelength designed to target red, the blue won't absorb enough of the light energy to shatter.
Therefore you need more wavelengths to successfully remove colours.
Laser Removal Facts
-Black is the easiest colour to remove.
-Tattoos closer to your heart are easier to remove than tattoos on your extremities (meaning they take as sessions) this is due to circulation
-The average laser tattoo removal requires five - ten treatments before the tattoo is considered to be fully removed