Laser Hair Removal: What if I Have a Tattoo?

September 24, 2010 in Hair Removal 101,Laser hair removal

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Though laser hair removal in general has advanced greatly, it is still not advisable to get laser hair removal over an area where there is a tattoo. Though all other parts of the body can be treated, a laser must not go near the tattoo itself. To understand how laser hair removal can negatively affect an area where there is a tattoo, one must understand how the laser operates.

Laser is attracted to pigmentation, and no matter what the tattoo looks like, the laser is likely to be more attracted to it than the rest of the skin, and release an extra amount of heat over it. When the laser goes over the tattoo, and the additional heat is released, it can be extremely painful. This extra heat can make the skin burn and blister, or get infected, and also cause damage to the tattoo.

Lasers aimed for laser hair removal and lasers that are used to remove tattoos are different types of lasers, with varying degrees of power. This means that a hair removal laser might have a very different affect on a tattoo then what a tattoo removal laser would have.

In addition to extreme pain, laser hair removal over a tattoo can also discolor, fade or erase the tattoo in question. This means that the tattoo can get permanently damaged and the money you spent on it is gone. This side effect cannot be reversed, though it is sometimes possible to get the tattoo re-inked. However, it is also likely for the skin to be damaged to the point where re-inking the tattoo is not an option.

Caution is also needed when it comes to permanent make up, as the laser will have the same affect on this type of tattoo. For example, a woman who has tattooed a lip liner around her lips may not want to get laser hair removal in the same area, since the laser can damage the skin on or around the lip.

If you are determined to get laser hair removal despite any tattoos, the laser hair removal practitioner should not treat within 1 inch of the tattoo border. If you have a tattoo on any given area, this area cannot be treated in its entirety. As an extra step of caution, the practitioner can put tape over the tattoo or mark it with an x.

While it is hard to say exactly how the tattoo will react to the laser, it is best to be safe and avoid laser hair removal over an area that has a tattoo. To avoid burning your skin, getting blisters, or causing permanent scarring, be sure to clearly inform the laser hair removal practitioner of any tattoos that you might have, and make sure he or she doesn’t go near that area. This will prevent any unfortunate events during your laser hair removal treatment.

Photo via bubblessoc

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