If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo in a prominent area such as your legs, arms or chest there is one medi-aesthetic treatment that you MUST have before you jump onto the tattoo artist’s table… laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal is an incredibly effective method for removing unwanted hair, but laser technology is also used to remove tattoos! This can be problematic if you want to have laser hair removal in an area where you are already inked. But don’t worry, we’re about to answer all your questions on laser hair removal and tattoos so that you and your body art stay smooth and safe!
Laser hair removal works by sending a concentrated beam of light into your hair follicles. The laser is attracted to pigment (whether that’s the pigment in the hair root or the pigment in the blood supply to the follicle), which absorbs the light and heat, damaging the follicle enough to discourage further growth.
As we just learned, laser hair removal is attracted to the pigment within your hair follicle, deep in the layers of the skin. When laser hair removal is performed over a tattoo, the laser cannot distinguish between the pigment in your hair follicle or the pigment in the ink – and can cause the pigment of your tattoo to scatter. In some instances, it can also reduce the colour in the tattoo.
The short answer is no, it is unsafe to perform laser hair removal over a tattoo – even if you were planning on having that tattoo removed anyway. Laser hair removal machines aren’t designed to remove tattoos and worse than distorting your tattoo, it can potentially lead to burns, blisters or skin damage.
The best course of action is to plan ahead and receive a full course of laser hair removal in the area where you plan on placing your tattoo. Not only is this the safest and most convenient option, but your tattoo will look even better on a smooth canvas! However, if you already have tattoos and have decided you also want laser hair removal, there are still options.
If you have a tattoo on your forearm but only want laser hair removal on your underarms, it is likely there isn’t going to be an issue. However, if you have a tattoo on your thigh and you want to have full leg laser hair removal, we won’t be able to treat over your tattoo. This means you will need to continue to use other forms of hair removal, such as shaving, over the untreated area.
It is also very important that you visit a laser hair removal clinic that has well-trained and experienced laser technicians, like those at Australian Skin Clinics, who can safely treat around your tattoo. Depending on the size and placement of your tattoo, a template will be placed over top with a two to three-centimetre buffer to fully protect you and your ink.
If you have any questions about laser hair removal and tattoos, we recommend booking a complimentary consultation with one of our trained laser technicians who can help devise a treatment plan that best suits your needs and goals. You can find your local Australian Skin Clinics location here.