Why is 8 weeks the magic number for laser tattoo removal?

I have recently consulted some patients who have come from other laser offices where they have been treated with a tattoo removal laser every month.  They hope to continue with that same interval frequency with me.  However, that frequency is too soon between treatments to allow for the body to remove the shattered ink.  Consequently, I decline to treat them before 8 weeks.

A study published in 2012 in JAMA looked at treatment intervals and resulting number of treatments required to remove tattoos.  The findings suggested that waiting longer intervals between treatments (8 weeks or more) resulted in fewer treatments needed. They also discovered that smokers had a harder time getting rid of their ink.  So, tattoo removal is another good reason to quit smoking (along with reducing cancer risk, better immune system, etc.).  Understanding the physiology and not being treated with the laser quite as often, you’ll save money because you’ll require fewer treatment sessions.

Also, some of the other consults have shown up with fresh ink they already regret.  You need to wait at least 8 weeks for the skin to heal and the ink below the surface to dry.  By analogy, think of your new tattoo as a newly laid down concrete sidewalk that you put in the wrong place.  You want it removed but you wouldn’t take a jackhammer to break it up until after it has dried, would you?  Of course not.  The jackhammer would just slosh around in the wet concrete.  It would be much easier to wait until the sidewalk dries and then shatter the concrete to remove it. Same goes for your new tattoo. 

I know when you come to see me for a consult, you wanted the tattoo gone yesterday. But do yourself a favor; be patient and do the right thing.

Thanks for reading.

Questions?  Give me a call. 618-236-7555