What You Should Know About Pigmentation And Laser Tattoo Removal

Does Laser Tattoo Removal Cause Skin Discoloration?

Laser tattoo removal is the most popular tattoo removal technique today because of its effectiveness and lessened side effects. However, you may experience minor side effects from the laser tattoo treatments depending on your skin type.

And even though health professionals and specialists approve of it, there are always potential risks. Two of the potential side effects of laser tattoo removal are hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation.

When considering the risks there are a lot of factors to assess. Laser tattoo removal is not a uniform experience for everyone due to individual makeup, skin color, and other factors that we can’t control. However, you can minimize your chances of side effects when you work with experienced professionals, like our team of Certified Laser Specialists.

How Laser Tattoo Removal Causes Skin Discoloration

Before beginning laser removal treatments, it’s best to manage your removal expectations and understand laser tattoo removal technology. Tattoo removal works by using a laser to target the tattoo ink in your skin — essentially, the laser light is attracted to the darker tattoo pigment in the skin and breaks it apart. 

If you have lighter-colored skin with less melanin, the laser can more accurately target the darker pigment. For those with darker skin, the laser can have difficulty differentiating the pigment from the skin.

The lighter your skin, the greater success you’ll most likely achieve during the laser tattoo removal process. Because the laser can more easily target the darker pigment from the lighter skin tone, the laser technician can program the laser to higher settings to remove the ink. Overall, this typically means fewer scheduled sessions. If your skin has a higher melanin content, to protect the skin against additional scarring, burns, or blistering and pigment changes, your technician will program the laser to a lower setting. To completely remove the ink, you’ll most likely need more sessions as a result of the lower laser setting.

Common Laser Tattoo Removal Skin Discolorations

With any laser treatment, you run the risk of issues with scarring, blistering, or pigmentation problems. All patients going through laser tattoo removal will notice slight changes in their skin and around the target area, but most of the time (when performed by a professional) these changes aren’t permanent.

While patients with middle to darker skin tones are at the greatest risk of pigmentation changes, these issues can be temporary when proper protocols are followed. Choosing an experienced laser specialist could mean all the difference in risk-free removal. While the shade of skin tone can definitely affect how your body reacts to laser removal, an experienced laser specialist will know how to modify treatment and ensure your skin is safe.

During your search for a laser tattoo removal specialist, be sure to ask if they have much experience removing tattoos from patients with different skin types.

Our team has worked with many shades of skin tones, but we’ll let our work speak for itself! Take a look through our before and after gallery to see how we’ve helped past patients.

Common Pigmentation Conditions & Side Effects

Melanin is a naturally occurring pigment found in our skin and hair. It’s entirely normal for the skin’s ability to produce melanin to be skewed during laser tattoo removal. Some patients experience an overproduction while others experience a decrease in melanin production.

Choosing laser tattoo removal as your removal option means you’ll experience far fewer side effects than other removal techniques like dermabrasion, salabrasion, or surgery. However, like with any procedure, there is the opportunity for side effects to occur.

Side effects only occur in two percent of patients and commonly include itching, swelling, and scabbing. As long as you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your laser removal technician, like keeping properly hydrated and practicing healthy living habits, you most likely won’t experience any scarring or discomfort.

These two pigmentation issues can be classified into two conditions: hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation.

Hypopigmentation:

Patients may notice lighter patches of skin as the laser has depleted levels of melanin, making the area looked bleach. This side effect is usually temporary but does take longer to heal than hyperpigmentation. However, if proper aftercare is followed, it’s possible to reverse these side effects.

Hyperpigmentation:

The opposite of hypopigmentation, this condition occurs when the body produces additional melanin and is most common in patients with medium skin tones. The treated area may appear darker than the natural skin tone, but with proper care, these effects can be reversed over time.

What to Do If Pigmentation Problems Occur

When we run into pigmentation issues, modifications to treatments must be made; otherwise, you face permanent damage. During your free consultation, we’ll discuss an appropriate treatment plan and schedule, but we can never know 100% how bodies will react to the laser which is why it’s so important to maintain flexibility in treatment.

If a patient encounters pigmentation issues, it’s best to wait until the area has returned to its normal skin tone before treating again. Often, the main cause of permanent pigmentation is when a laser technician continues to treat an affected area too aggressively.

The MEDermis Laser Clinic team will work with you to ensure that a safe and effective treatment plan is in place. We understand that all of this information can be scary, but it’s important to recognize that all permanent side effects are completely avoidable if proper protocols and aftercare are used.

Can You Reverse Pigmentation Problems?

Both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are not life-threatening conditions and will not affect your health in any way, but we understand that some patients have a hard time with new discoloration.

If you want to protect your skin and avoid these issues, it’s best to follow the aftercare plan that we will discuss in your consultation and treatment. 

Some of the most important aspects of aftercare include:

  • Avoiding sun exposure throughout the entire treatment
  • For the first few days after treatment keep the treated area covered with a healing ointment and sterile gauze
  • Keep the treated area dry
  • Scabs will form during this treatment, do NOT pick them
  • Stay properly hydrated

These five steps are a great foundation for proper aftercare, but we will discuss other important aftercare tips in your consultation. Once treatment is finished, it may take a few months for the changes in skin color to naturally resolve.

Call the Tattoo Removal Specialists Today!

Have questions about how laser tattoo removal works? We’ve been serving clients in Austin and San Antonio longer than any other clinic in the entire southwest region of the U.S. Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation. Get in touch with our team by calling our Austin clinic at 512-637-5277, the San Antonio clinic at 210-402-4030, or by filling out our online contact form.

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