Let’s first get to know what happens during laser removal. A laser is a concentrated beam of light over a small area that produces a lot of energy, and it is used everywhere. From optic fiber cables, 3D scanners, DNA sequencing, you name it! A laser is an important part of what happens in our everyday life.
Because of the concentrated beam of energy, the laser is able to target deeper layers such as the dermis. As it can reach those areas, it is much easier and safer than other methods of removal. For tattoo removal, it targets the ink that is inside the skin. The hair removal targets the hair follicles, right at the root. This ensures that there will be no hair growth in these areas for the foreseeable future.
The laser helps burn up to the dermis layers of the skin. The tattoo ink and the root of the follicles have to be targeted. These are so deeply embedded under your skin that they need to be burned off. Lasers then heat the tattoo ink to break them down and then kill the hair follicles. This is the source of the pain. One factor is laser intensity, which is what makes these types of laser removal hurt.
|Laser Hair Removal
|A few guidelines to follow
|Fewer guidelines to follow
|Number of treatments
|High intensity in a small area
|Low intensity over a large area
|Point of attack
|Tattoo ink in the dermis
|The root of the hair follicles
|Vulnerable body parts
|Where the skin is thinnest
|Where the hair is more concentrated
|Burning sensation and itchy skin
|Red, swollen and irritated skin
It is obvious you want to know what to do before your laser removal procedure. For both, you would want to avoid the sun and use topical products. You want your skin in the perfect condition and these two affect with it. You would want to wash the target area thoroughly too! The tattoo has some extra precautions of not using numbing agents as it interferes with the laser attacking the ink. Take the advice of your doctor regarding medication.
The number of treatments depends on how much tattoo or area of hair is being removed. But we can give you an estimate for them. Typically for tattoos, it may take between 5-10 sessions. That’s a lot! Bigger tattoos will need more days and it also depends on the ink and age of the tattoo. Hair removal takes about 2-5 sessions, a much shorter time. It only depends on how hair is being removed. The more session the more it will hurt so tattoo removal with lasers is a bit more painful.
Because tattoos need to be targeted specifically, the laser’s target area is very tiny. They need to be able to target ink in the dermis, heat it up, and break it down. One small area takes repeated exposure to the laser to remove properly. Hair removal is over a larger area. They only need to target the hair follicles to reach the roots so they can use a less intense laser.
Both tattoo and hair removal target the laser at the dermis of the skin. It is right under the top layer of your skin. The tattoo ink is deep in the dermis and that is why it is harder to get at. The hair follicles are more easily targetable as they only need to target the root to stop hair growth. The tattoo ink is a bit deeper than where the hair follicles are.
In both, a thinner layer of skin will hurt the most. Thinner skin means the pain receptors are more concentrated and when the laser hits it hurts a lot! Because the laser targets the dermis, it is much closer to the pain receptors than the top layer. However, for laser hair removal, the place which has more concentrated hair hurts more. This is because the skin gets heated to destroy the root. And a more concentrated will make the skin hurt more during removal.
Expect a lot of skin irritation such as scabbing and redness to form. Your skin had been heated so the skin will remain swollen and red for at least a week. You’ll be happy to know it would take only a few hours for the pain to go away. But it hurts a lot during the laser removal. For both procedures, using aloe vera will help lessen the burning sensation. It is strongly advised to not touch or scratch the affected area as it will make it worse.
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Tattoo removal is permanent while hair has a time limit. The tattoo ink is broken down and rid of from the dermis of your skin. And the hair follicles are destroyed so no more hair growth occurs over there.
However, some tattoo inks ranging from green to light blue are very difficult to remove and require multiple treatments. And the problem with laser hair removal is that it kills the root of the follicle. These follicles can grow back within a year.
That is why if you would want to make hair removed permanently, you need repeated treatments done over the years
Maybe you got the laser hair removal done for future tattoos. Then it is good to know if it is safe to get a tattoo over the hair removal area. And for your information, it is absolutely safe! However, you want to wait about 3 months after your hair removal to get a tattoo. The skin needs time to rest and heal properly. If you wait, there is little to no chance there will be any problems with your new tattoo.
You could but then you run the risk of ruining your tattoo. The hair removal laser might be of a lighter intensity than tattoo removal. But it still uses lasers and needs to be used a lot longer time than tattoo removal. Thus the ink risks being broken down and this not only ruins your tattoo, but it also means your pores can also get blocked. I advise you to not do them together.
There are various ways to lessen the pain from the laser removal of tattoos and hair:
Can I get laser hair removal over a tattoo?
You could but it has a chance to ruin your tattoo. I advise against doing so.
Can I have Ibuprofen before or after my procedure?
You should NOT take Ibuprofen. It thins the blood and causes bleeding during the procedure. You could take it after a week of the procedure to allow time for the skin to heal properly.
Which colors are harder to remove?
A Green and light blue are the most difficult to remove even with lasers. Areas where the ink is present take a lot of time to be removed completely.
Both hurt, but you can assume that tattoo removal will be a lot more because of how much ink has to be broken down to completely get rid of it. But hair removal requires more treatments over the years to make it permanent. The lasers used are typically more powerful than the commercial laser points that you see. They heat the skin to be able to target the areas needed for removal. You can do certain things to lessen that pain, but expect it to be a hurtful process. Hope this information helps you to understand which hurts more, tattoo or hair removal.
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