The laser hair removal process is based on a laser’s ability to focus destructive light energy onto individual hair follicles while avoiding over-heating surrounding skin cells. This is made possible by using laser light energy tuned to match a patient’s hair color – this works exceptionally well when the patient’s hair color contrasts strongly with their natural skin color. As you might imagine, the presence of tattoos (whether monochrome or colored) in the area that’s being treated presents a serious complication.
Location of Tattoos and Hair Follicles
Permanent tattoos are created by injecting pigment into the skin at a depth of between 1.5 and 2 millimeters. This allows the ink to penetrate beneath the skin’s outer layer and avoid being affected as the outer skin cells die off and are naturally replaced. Hair follicles are also located in the dermis but significantly deeper than where the tattoo ink is deposited. This allows tattoos to be placed in areas containing hair growth, without one affecting the other.
Problems with Use of Hair Removal Laser over Tattoos
Laser hair removal works by heating individual hair follicles until they’re damaged and stop growing. However, the laser light energy first needs to pass through all skin layers on top of the hair follicles, including the layer that contains the pigments that form tattooed areas.
Using a hair removal laser over tattooed skin would result in laser light energy being absorbed by the pigment injected into the skin to form the tattoo design. This absorption of energy would result in rapid heating of the tattooed area. There’s a possibility that the laser would fade or alter the color of your tattoo, but there’s a far bigger chance that the energy absorbed by the skin cells containing the tattoo would lead to skin damage, blisters, and burning.
Laser Hair Removal Adjacent to a Tattoo
For this reason, a competent laser hair removal practitioner would decline to perform laser hair removal on top of a tattooed area. This doesn’t mean there would be any problem in using the laser hair removal laser in non-tattooed parts of the body, even those adjacent to tattooed areas. If there’s any risk of laser light spilling over onto tattooed regions, a simple template can be used to shield the tattooed area from any risk of laser light exposure.
Laser Hair Removal Prior to Getting Tattooed
If you’re considering getting a tattoo applied to an area that also contains unwanted hair, you should consider first using laser hair removal to target all unwanted hair in the area, and only after this process is complete should you continue and get the tattoo applied. Conversely, if you’ve already got a tattoo that you’d like to get removed, then take care of this first, and proceed with hair removal afterward.
Your Laser Skin Care
Your Laser Skin Care is experienced and medically qualified to perform laser hair removal, as well as a wide range of other non-invasive cosmetic techniques. We can answer any questions regarding your personal situation and can recommend the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to help you achieve your cosmetic goals. Call us at (323) 525-1516 to schedule a free consultation or visit us online for more information.