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Will Laser Tattoo Removal Cause Scarring?

November 29th, 2016 by Tattoo Removal in Tattoo Removal

Anything can cause scarring when done incorrectly. Peeling a carrot comes with its own degree of difficulty and risk when left to the wrong person. Laser tattoo removal is no different. Laser therapy is a medical procedure and as with all medical procedures the person performing the treatment needs to be fully aware of all the variables involved in the process. It is also important to recognise that no matter how good the technician is, if the patient does not care for the treated area, scarring can occur.

With the use of a Q-Switched laser to shatter the ink in your skin, scarring from laser tattoo removal is rare and is more likely to occur when the patient is lax in their aftercare. The photomechanical process works when the energy emitted from the laser is absorbed by the ink particles in a matter of nanoseconds. This intense, targeted blast of energy raises the surface temperature of the ink particles to thousands of degrees with the energy rapidly collapsing into a shock wave. The tattoo inks are selectively destroyed with the resulting shock wave dissipating in the unharmed surrounding tissue.

Scarring is much more likely to occur when an IPL laser, designed to remove hair, is used to remove a tattoo. IPL lasers shoot a two by six centimetre block of light at the skin rather than the five to eight millimetre ray produced by the Q-Switched laser. Unable to only target the ink embedded in the skin, these machines use a long pulse of light to heat the targeted area to only 70 degrees Celsius. While effective at destroying hair follicles caught its wide beam, ink is unlikely to be shattered. What is a much more likely result of using the wrong technology for the job is setting the ink permanently whilst burning and blistering the skin.

As well as needing the right tools for the job, skin type is a factor in potential scarring. People prone to hypertrophic or keloidal scarring are more likely to experience scarring from laser treatments than others. Lower fluences are used to treat darker skin tones to avoid scarring. It is also worth noting that areas with thin skin have a higher incidence of scarring than areas with thicker skin.

If you are still in the process of thinking about getting a tattoo and are reading this because you want to know what will happen if you ever want to get rid of it, here is something to consider before getting inked. Some inks contain heavy metals like cadmium, lead and iron oxide. In some people these substances have been known to cause reactions which lead to scarring. Ask your artist what is in the ink they will be using to create your future masterpiece and if there are any known side effects to it.

5 Tips to Avoid Scarring From Your Laser Tattoo Removal

Drink water, quit smoking and eat healthy

I’m engaging broken record mode again, but it needs to be said. Much of the healing process is in your hands and it begins before you set foot in the clinic. To give yourself the best chance of healing without scarring, do everything you can to boost your immune system several months before you begin treatment. A healthy immune system promotes a fast recovery and reduces the likelihood of scarring. The happy side effect of doing this is that it will also serve to increase the success of your tattoo removal and reduce the number of treatments you will need.

Chill out

A bad pun, but I couldn’t resist. Immediately after treatment it is recommended to rest and elevate the area and apply a cold pack. This will help reduce the risk of swelling and blistering that can lead to scarring.

Apply the soothing lotion your technician recommends and keep the area clean with mild, unscented soap

This will aid the healing process by keeping the treated area hydrated and free from germs and irritants that will lead to scarring caused by infection.

Pat, don’t rub. And don’t pick.

A much less suave directive than ‘shaken, not stirred’, but certainly much more relevant to the situation. After swimming or showering, pat the treated area dry. Rubbing is likely to knock the scabs off early and every child who has ever picked at a scab knows that it is much more likely to cause a scar than if it is left to heal naturally. This also goes for popping any blisters that may appear during the healing process. No matter how tempting, avoid rubbing, picking, scratching and popping.

Avoid sun exposure

The laser treatment you have just undergone has projected intensely hot light into your skin, any further exposure to heat is to be avoided to reduce the chances of your skin burning and blistering.


Let it never be said that I don’t give value for money. Your bonus tip for avoiding scarring may be the most obvious one, but it is most certainly no less important.

Choose a reputable and well trained laser technician with a wealth of experience and the correct tools for the job

Obvious isn’t it? But so many of us are swayed by cheap prices and pretty pictures that we do not take the time to look in to the experience of the people who are performing the treatment for us.

As a part of the multinational Ashley and Martin Medical Group, Tattoo Removal Laser Clinics operate first and foremost as a medical clinic. This commitment to providing the highest standards of care throughout your tattoo removal is why you will be treated with the gold standard Q-Switched laser and see our clinic doctor before commencing treatment. Furthermore, our technicians are not only trained by the company providing the laser equipment, but undergo extensive training from our clinic doctors who have a wealth of experience in cosmetic medicine.