Why Winter Is The Best Time Of Year To Get Laser Tattoo Removal

One of the most common questions we hear from individuals considering tattoo removal is, “What is the best time of year for laser tattoo removal?” You may get responses like “now” or “sooner is better than later”, but in reality, we like to focus on the season. Believe it or not, Winter is widely considered the best time to get most beauty and skin treatments done, including laser tattoo removal.

Generally speaking, it is best to start laser tattoo removal treatments sooner rather than later, and we don’t necessarily recommend waiting 9 months to get started, but Winter is the easiest time of year to recover. Winter gives you a good time frame for healing but also is a time where inflammatory heat is absent. Here are a few more reasons why we think winter is the best time of year to get laser tattoo removal.

Enjoy Your Fun In The Sun

During your first visit, a professional medical laser technician will create a customized treatment plan for your specific skin type, color, and sensitivity level, but they will also tell you the importance of staying out of the sun for several weeks before and after each treatment. Tanned or burned skin can alter your laser tattoo removal results. For example, having a tan or sunburn will change the sensitivity to your skin meaning you will more than likely experience irritation during and after your treatments. Exposure to the sun increases your body’s production of melanin, which also makes your skin more susceptible to burns during laser tattoo removal. Exposure to the sun during the healing process in between treatments can also cause peeling and blistering which can lead to scarring.

There is also a risk of hyperpigmentation which is the permanent removal of skin pigment. In order to prevent the risk of hyperpigmentation, it is important to avoid the sun for several weeks after a treatment to give the skin time to heal.

It is much easier to avoid the sun during the colder months because you are not spending as much time outdoors and your skin is almost completely covered when you are. When you choose to have your tattoo removed in the Winter, you can rest easy knowing you will be able to fully enjoy your summer the way you want to and feel comfortable not forcibly covering up your freshly cleaned skin.

Hairy Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

After any laser tattoo removal session, the treated area of your skin will need time to heal, and it cannot be shaved, waxed, or even plucked. Hair removal methods should be avoided because they can easily open up scabs and create blisters. This is yet another reason why winter is the best time of year for laser tattoo removal. Longer and warmer Winter clothing will easily conceal treated areas, relieving any worries you might have about going “au naturel” while your skin heals. Letting your hair grow out in the winter is not a big deal, it’s just hair after all.

Your Progress Will Be Less Obvious & More Exciting To Reveal

One thing to always keep in mind before starting laser tattoo removal is that it is not just a one-time procedure. Your sessions will be determined by a professional during your initial consultation, but there is typically an 8 to 12-week interval between sessions. During this time, your tattoo will begin fading steadily and may start to look spotty depending on your specific treatment plan, the ink colors in your tattoo, and the laser used during the procedure. Most people will cover up these treated areas anyway especially if it’s in visible areas on their body, but this becomes less of an issue during the Winter months. Winter makes it easier to naturally hide recently removed tattoos and you don’t have to feel obligated to answer questions like, “What’s going on with your tattoo?” It’s like a caterpillar transformation in a way. After Winter you will be shedding your layers to reveal something new.

Does Tattoo Removal Cream Work?

So you’re ready to part with your tattoo. Of course, you want to make the process as simple and successful as possible, and it’s not unlikely that these goals have led you to consider tattoo removal cream. The idea of an at-home tattoo removal cream that works by erasing your unwanted tattoo art is obviously appealing, but how does tattoo removal cream work and is it actually effective? We’re here to tell you what we know.

The Goal Of Tattoo Removal Creams

If you’re trying to make sense of tattoo removal methods, it’s helpful to begin with some foundational knowledge about what a tattoo is. Tattoos are essentially composed of ink particles stuck in your dermis (a thick layer of tissue that lies directly beneath your skin, or epidermis). Why are they stuck there? Well, although your white blood cells (WBCs) want to carry away the foreign material, ink particles are simply too large for the WBCs to carry and dispose of. Thus, the particles stay fixed in the dermis and tattoos remain permanent—at least until tattoo removal methods enter the picture. So basically, every tattoo removal method ultimately aims to deal with these ink particles, and the approaches they take are what distinguishes them. For instance, laser tattoo removal uses high-speed lasers to break up the pigment in the skin and while it may be the most expensive tattoo removal method it is still the most effective tattoo removal method. On the other hand, dermabrasion sands down the skin with a high-speed brush, salabrasion uses salt to sand down the skin and remove ink, excision surgically removes the tattooed portion of the skin, and tattoo removal creams utilize chemicals to remove inks.

Types of Tattoo Removal Creams

Tattoo removal creams are applied as topical treatments and most commonly use hydroquinone or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) as the active removal agent. These two chemicals function quite differently from one another.

TCA tattoo removal induces a chemical burn—and yes, that is as scary as it sounds. TCA tattoo removal creams work by burning or peeling away layers of the epidermis in an apparent effort to free some of the ink pigment stuck way below in the dermis. Effectiveness is low, and the possibility of scarring is extremely high. More likely than not, you’ll be left with a significant scar in place of or in addition to your existing tattoo. Creams that use TCA for tattoo removal are perhaps your worst option.

Hydroquinone, on the other hand, takes a less damaging albeit equally ineffective approach. The chemical hydroquinone is actually used by dermatologists to treat epidermal melasma, a condition involving irregular pigmentation in the epidermis. Hydroquinone is effective in fading irregular pigmentation in cases of epidermal melasma but is not effective in treating other kinds of melasma—namely dermal and mixed melasma. These cases involve irregular pigmentation of the dermis  (the same layer of tissue where ink particles reside) as opposed to the epidermis. In these cases, hydroquinone is simply too superficial to get the job done. The chemical is not capable of affecting any condition that occurs in the dermis—including tattoos. Additionally, it has been shown to cause eczema. Like TCA tattoo removal, the drawbacks of this option greatly outweigh the benefits.

There are creams out there that don’t rely on either TCA or hydroquinone as active ingredients. They are difficult to find, and as far as we have found, reviews always reveal them to be scams (for example, this $55 Tattoo-Off Cream with review after review warning how ineffective it is). In fact, regardless of their composition, tattoo removal creams turn out to be scams far too frequently. This probably has to do with the fact that their production is altogether unregulated by the FDA, allowing essentially anyone to market ineffective treatments to hopeful buyers.

Another Way To Remove Tattoos

It’s disappointing, but the evidence is clear: Tattoo removal creams just don’t work. We’re not the only ones who have come to this conclusion—in addition to the countless disappointed users of tattoo removal cream, the Mayo Clinic and American Academy of Dermatology both strongly recommend against using these creams. They are ineffective, unregulated, and unsafe.

Before you become too discouraged, please allow us to point you in a hopeful direction: Laser tattoo removal. It is undeniably the most effective method, and lots of people don’t realize that many of the qualities that make tattoo removal cream so appealing are offered by laser tattoo removal as well. Perhaps the sheer use of the word “laser” leads people to believe the process is dauntingly complex. On the contrary, we actually find it to be the most straightforward, logical method of tattoo removal. The gist is this: A laser shatters the large ink particles stuck in your dermis, making them small enough for WBCs to carry away. The WBCs do their job and just like that, the tattoo is gone. It’s not rocket science, but if you’re interested in more technical details you can read about them here.

Another common misconception is that laser tattoo removal costs will eat up your entire life savings. Sources promoting tattoo removal cream will tell you the procedure costs thousands and thousands of dollars. Perhaps in the most complex cases the price begins to approach these figures, but in many instances the entire removal comes to less than $1000.

The day an effective tattoo removal cream is invented will be a glorious day and we will be right alongside you celebrating, but it certainly hasn’t arrived yet. For the sake of your health, your time, and success of the process: If you’re thinking about tattoo removal, stay away from creams.

Can Permanent Makeup Be Removed?

Every few years there seems to be a resurgence of permanent makeup tattoos. While it seems like a great idea on the surface (who doesn’t want to look their best all the time), permanent makeup comes with a very real commitment and some very serious consequences for those with a change of heart. Like other tattoos, cosmetic tattoos are a permanent body modification. Ink inserted under the skin can only be removed through a few methods and not all of them are great options, especially when it comes to the delicate skin on your lips, eyes, eyebrows and face. Many of the options available for tattoo removal simply aren’t suitable for permanent makeup removal, and, as a result, many people opt to get cover-up tattoos, which can result in even further issues resulting from poor application and fading.

Hate Your Permanent Makeup? There’s Hope!

If you have tattooed eyebrows, permanent lip-liner or any other cosmetic tattoo that you hate, you may be asking the question, “Can permanent makeup be removed?”. The answer is yes. There’s hope to get your beautiful natural face back!

The best method for removing permanent makeup is modern laser tattoo removal technology. Choosing a clinic which specializes in permanent and cosmetic makeup removal is important. While the processes of both tattoo removal and permanent makeup removal are very similar, special care and technology must be used in order to protect the delicate area around your eyes and mouth.

Now that you have hope that, yes, permanent makeup can be removed, you may be eager and very ready to jump right in. Before you do that, there are some questions you should ask before deciding to get a permanent makeup removal procedure:

  • Are you a board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or ophthalmologist with laser tattoo removal experience?
  • Do you have a large number of cosmetic tattoo removal procedures in your bank of experience already?
  • Can you connect me to previous patients who have undergone the treatment who would be willing to speak to me?

The Untattoo Parlor has extensive experience working with patients to remove all forms of cosmetic makeup. Dr. Garrett Vangelisti is a board-certified plastic surgeon and specializes in tattoo removal in Portland Oregon.

Laser Tattoo Removal and Melanoma

At The UnTattoo Parlor, we are frequently asked how the process of tattoo removal can either help or hurt screening for Melanoma.

What is Melanoma and how can we get it?

Melanoma is commonly thought of as a pigmented lesion of the skin that can result in disfiguring excisions, metastatic disease, and on occasion death. Many may not know that melanoma can also occur on mucosal surfaces such as the intestines and even in the eyes. Risk factors for melanoma include fair skin, a history of sun exposure (for example severe sunburns in childhood), a family history of melanoma, and rare genetic disorders such as xeroderma pigmentosum. Melanomas can also appear on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet (some may know that Bob Marley died of melanoma that originated on the sole of his foot).

A diagnosis of melanoma can only be made by obtaining tissue that can then be examined by a pathologist. The prognosis or expected long-term outcome of melanoma is directly related to the depth that the malignant melanoma invades the dermis. The deeper the invasion the more likely for metastasis and a poor outcome. As with any malignancy the earlier the diagnosis the better the prognosis.

If I have had or think I might have Melanoma, is it safe to undergo laser tattoo removal?

Individuals diagnosed with Melanoma in the past or think you may have Melanoma it is best to consult with a licensed dermatologist before undergoing laser tattoo removal. The laser used to treat tattoo pigment also has the potential to lighten pigmented lesions which can sometimes indicate the presence of Melanoma. If your doctor cannot see the Melanoma it can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages when the survival rate is highest. If you are at high risk for Melanoma many doctors will recommend that you hold off on getting tattooed. If you already have tattoos, the safest course of action is to keep your tattoos and get regular check-ups from a physician trained in melanoma screening. Dermoscopy and photo mapping are often used to screen and follow patients at risk for melanoma.

Melanoma self-screening Guide

A – Asymmetrical Shape
Melanoma lesions are often irregular, or not symmetrical, in shape. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.

B – Border
Typically, non-cancerous moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.

C – Color
The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.

D – Diameter
Melanoma lesions are often greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).

If you exhibit any of the above signs consult a physician right away. See the links below for more information:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/index

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/are-there-skin-risks-associated-with-tattoos

http://www.nccn.org/patients/guidelines/melanoma/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/tattoos-moles-and-melanoma-201308056578