This depends on 7 factors
- Your skin type
- How old is the tattoo
- How dense is the tattoo
- What part of the body
- How many colors
- Is there any scarring?
On your initial free consultation, all of these will be assessed and a realistic number of treatments will be given.
We will do this together using the well-established “Kirby-Desai” score.
Understanding Kirby-Desai scale factors for tattoo removal:
# of Treatments = ¾ X Kirby-Desai score.
Higher score = more treatments;
Higher score by 4 = 3 more treatments
Darker skin contains more of the pigment melanin. This skin type is more likely to absorb laser energy and so create more heat and increase the risk of a skin burn. So for the same tattoo on a dark-skinned person (Type V, VI) a much lower energy has to be used so this results in more treatments being needed.
A tattoo on the hands and feet gets a score of 5, as opposed to the head/neck area gets a score of 1. This additional score by 4 results in 3 more treatments being needed..
The explanation is based on the fact that the area of drainage of the lymphatic system into the central veins of the body is at the base of the neck, and the hands and feet are the furthest away.
Each laser treatment followed by 4-6 weeks allows the immune system to clear ink a little at a time.
The thicker the amount of ink, therefore, the longer it takes to see visible clearing.
Areas that are lightly shaded tattoo areas that have less ink will, therefore, show clearing earlier. For darker areas, no clearing should be expected to be seen until the third to the fourth treatment period.
Layering is a further extension of this and warrants a higher score.
Scar tissue is much denser than normal skin, has less efficient immune function and much less efficient lymphatic flow. There is, therefore, both an increased barrier to laser penetration as well as ink clearing.