How Does Laser Hair Removal Affect Tattoos?
You’ve been considering laser hair removal for years now. The idea of never having to shave or wax again sounds amazing. Getting smooth, hair-free skin and not having the stress of dealing with unwanted hair is going to be the best investment. But what about your tattoos? Is it safe to get laser hair removal over your tattoos or even a removed tattoo?
Laser hair removal is a very effective way to say goodbye to unwanted body hair, but lasers can also interfere with tattoos—laser technology is used to remove tattoos, after all. Here’s what you need to know about laser hair removal and tattoos so you can keep your ink and ditch the hair.
How does laser hair removal work?
The laser detects pigment in the hair, then sends a concentrated beam of laser light directly to the hair follicle, which absorbs the light and heat. The follicle is damaged, and that hair can never grow again. The hair must have pigment for the laser to target, so peach fuzz or white hair won’t be removed with laser hair removal.
Since hair grows in cycles and each hair follicle is in a different phase, multiple treatments are needed to remove all treatable hair in an area. Providers using state-of-the-art lasers will be able to target follicles within layers of the skin without causing skin damage.
How does laser hair removal affect tattoos?
Because laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in your hair, this causes issues when it comes to your tattoos because the laser can’t tell the difference between ink pigment and hair follicle pigment. If you get laser hair removal over a tattoo, the pigment in your tattoo could scatter and result in a burn as the pigment tries to escape the skin. It can also reduce the color of the tattoo.
How does laser hair removal affect removed tattoos?
If tattoos are removed, they’re gone, right? Yes and no. After the removal process, residual pigment can remain deep in the skin and result in a burn if treated over. A faint outline of a removed tattoo will indicate pigment in the skin. Laser hair removal technologies were not designed to remove tattoos. Treating over a tattoo or removed tattoo may cause burns, blisters, or other skin damage, which is why it’s important to disclose if you have any removed tattoos before getting laser hair removal.
… lasers can’t tell the difference between ink pigment and pigment in the hair follicle.
Can you get laser hair removal over a tattoo?
Unfortunately, no. It’s unsafe to perform laser hair removal directly over a tattoo, including a removed tattoo or one you were planning on removing. Most laser hair removal providers’ protocols will forbid treatment or require approval from a medical team for spot treating over the area with a removed tattoo.
However, you can still get laser hair removal in other non-tattooed areas, but other forms of hair removal should be done directly over the tattoo, such as waxing or shaving.
Can you get laser hair removal around a tattoo?
Yes! You can still get laser hair removal around the tattoo. Laser hair removal providers will almost always ask if you have a tattoo or removed tattoo. If the answer is yes to either, a tattoo protocol should be followed. Usually, a border or template will be outlined around the tattooed area to ensure that area isn’t harmed and tattoo burns don’t occur. So, while you can still get laser hair removal if you have tattoos or removed tattoos, it’s important to disclose this information before beginning your laser hair removal journey.
For other questions about laser hair removal and tattoos, contact the provider you’re considering directly. They can work with you and devise a treatment plan for your exact needs and goals that follows their tattoo protocols.