Laser tattoo removal can be started as soon as the tattoo is healed, and in fact, the sooner you start, the better – in terms of the faster (and more cheaply) the process will go!
Before starting laser tattoo removal, the tattoo must be completely healed. As Dr. Michelle Ellern says, “that means no redness, no crusting, no flaking, no swelling, no warmth to touch.” Putting a laser on swollen skin or an open wound could cause more damage to the surrounding area so this is an important first step. Most tattoos will be fully healed in 2-4 weeks, depending on their location, size, and your individual healing processes.
Sometimes patients want to lighten a tattoo in order to have a coverup, and in that case, we like for you to speak with your tattoo artist prior to treatment, so that our doctors will know how light your goal is.
Finally, not all tattoos can be safely removed. White ink is impossible to remove, as is skin tone ink and any ink lighter than your skin tone. Some permanent makeup tattoos are also unsafe to remove. These include tattoos that have specific ingredients in the ink used, namely iron ore, which can scar in place when heated by a tattoo laser or oxidize and turn black.