Mike Panic

Have questions about laser tattoo removal, ask in this thread

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This is an unofficial FAQ for Last Sparrow members who want to know more about laser tattoo removal.

I've been doing this for 2 years now and feel I have some authority on the subject. I will not be giving industry specific information out but will do my best to answer your questions. I feel this is needed due to the total lack of real answers for people who collect tattoos. There are sites like realself.com but that demographic doesn't match everyone here. Furthermore, 80% of my clients are referrals from tattoo shops, due to the strong relationships I've been able to build over the last 2 years with them.

As questions get asked and answered I'll update the this first post so new readers won't have to scroll through pages upon pages of content / risk the possibility of asking & answering the same questions over and over. So, fire away!

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Hi, I have a friend there in the Bay area. I will ask him and let you know soon. I had a tattoo removal two months before and it was fairly successful. I was pretty much afraid of the scarring it would cause. Although the scars looked bad at first, it looked much better when it started to heal and now I’m perfectly okay with the results. I got it done from a laser tattoo removal clinic in Toronto ( Laser Tattoo Removal | Fairview Laser Clinic Toronto ). I didn’t know that tattooing and tattoo removal is common among the Bay people. Let me see if I can help you.

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Hey Mike,

Does it help you at all as a laser technician if you know what type of ink is used prior to getting treatment? I'm looking to get my half sleeve removed for some new tattoos and I made sure to keep an eye on the ink that was used. "Old Gold Small Batch" was the ink used from beginning to end on my half sleeve.

From what is made available publicly, the ingredients look like this.

Made with some or all of the following ingredients:

Powder pigment

Distilled water

Glycerin

Witch hazel

Ketel One vodka

I'll never know where or not theres metals in the pigment but it seems pretty natural I think. What do you think?

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Hey @ItchinforInk - to be blunt, no. I've never heard of that ink, but the problem is, what comprises "Powder Pigment" and who decided at what fineness it's ground and how much / what ratio is used. Combine that with a tattoo artist who may cut it with distilled water and then factor in machine, need mag selection and power supply settings and you can quickly see there are a near infinite ways the pigment could be delivered to your skin. That doesn't take into account cutting the pigment with something else or inconsistency in the batches from the manufacture.

In a nutshell, until you start with at least one, or two / three treatments, it will be hard to say at what rate your body will process the pigment. I know this isn't the answer you want to hear but it's important to not focus on just one aspect of tattoo removal.

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Thanks @Mike Panic, you're right its not what I want to hear but its a realistic answer. I've been fed a lot of marketed type answers promising me this and that with this amount of treatments but I always see mixed stories of people who get great results and people who don't see any. I also rarely see anyone try to remove heavily saturated traditional work (My sleeve is heavily saturated with a multitude of colors) so I really don't know what to expect and it makes me extremely anxious. Just trying to stay hopeful until December 12th!

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Hey, my first post here, hoping you can help :)

I'm in the process of having a coverup done, there's a badly designed, badly drawn Polynesian outline underneath, and a much nicer Polynesian piece going over the top. The problem is, some of the old lining is still visible around the sides and in some of the areas where the new design will be going. How accurate is the lasering process? Could it be used to remove or at least soften some of the old lines? Due to the nature of the new design there are gaps between the patterns and in some of the areas already completed you can see the old lines running underneath. Can the laser accurately pick out lines and in and around these gaps? Or does it have a wider target area that could hit the new bits too? In an ideal world I'd have lasered the old before I started the new, but being a bit of a dick I didn't go down that route.

e6r24m.jpg

The guy doing the coverup said he can use skin coloured ink to reduce the appearance of the old bits where the new design doesn't cover it, but it's not been that effective so far and the presence of the old lines is spoiling it for me :( If these new-fangled lasers can accuratley pick out the old bits in amongst the new and in the areas yet to be done by the new bits then happy days.

Thanks!

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@Mr Snrub - white medical tape will help stop the laser from treating the new tattoo, however your tattoo artist should have set more realistic expectations with you. I don't want to harp on the "woulda , coulda, shoulda" but the reality is, if they weren't able to give you the cover-up you wanted they should have either suggested a different area or different piece for your cover.

Flesh colored ink rarely works out for anything. More than likely you can have the old tattoo faded / removed but the new piece that covers it will without a doubt get some minor fading as the laser isn't as precise as an Xacto knife. So you'll end up getting some touch ups when you're done.

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@Pete tattoo freak I've gone to | TattooBeGone SFTattooBeGone SF a few times and have had good results. Do me a favor, if you end up going here could you tell them Greg Paull sent you. They give referral discounts.

My buddy has started going to L Plastic Surgery - Charles K. Lee, M.D. - San Francisco, California and seems to like them.

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I'm still getting treated with Picosure. Now they have this boost thing which works wonders and apparently targets red ink too. I got my 6th treatment finished with the boost a couple of weeks ago. I'll post photos once I hit about 12 weeks after. :)

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Hi Mike.

I'm 7 sessions in to removing a fairly sizeable tattoo inside my bicep. Things are going reasonably well, and I'm hoping to be pretty much there after another 3-4 sessions. One thing I have struggled a little with during this process is knowing how to look after the area in the weeks between treatments. That isn't to say I've neglected my skin - far from it (I hope), but it seems that out of all the lotions and potions I've accrued claiming to do all sorts of miracle things for healing skin (some even specifically designed for post laser treatment) it seems that the only real thing that works is time. My skin tends to stay a little red way past the 4 week mark after a treatment, and I wonder now if that's because I've simply been applying too many different things to it (bio oil, rosehip oil etc), before it's fully had a chance to heal, thus potentially prolonging the healing process.

Do you mind me asking what you advise your clients in terms of immediate aftercare and then longer term, in the lead up to the next session, so that when they come back in their skin is in the best shape possible to 'go again'.

Many thanks in advance.

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@wilks1986 - Have you consulted your laser tech or doctor where you're getting treatment and let them know of your concern? That's my first bit of advice. Moving on though, at 7 treatments you should be somewhere 6-10 weeks between treatments but you shouldn't be red for a month post treatment. There are a large number of variables that could cause that and medial biceps always seem to bruise a little more lateral, so you should know that going into it.

Aside from that, I don't ever publish after care online or advise someone who's under the care of others what might be best for aftercare. My immediate reaction though is that you have a sensitivity to the oils you're using post treatment. Stick to what they are suggesting you use and simply hydrate more. The better you take care of your body with quality foods, water (or coconut water) and exercise is all you need. Since laser tattoo removal is a non-invasive procedure there really isn't anything you can put on your skin to promote fading.

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Thanks very much @Mike Panic. The advice is appreciated.

Myself and my technician have discussed that perhaps my skin is a little more sensitive, coupled with the fact that that inner arm spot seems to often cause people some issues, be it during tattooing or lasering - seems to be a lot more sensitive than perhaps other parts of the body. I do wonder if movement has anything to do with it, as being inside the arm it's a little more prone to 'rubbing' throughout the day. On that note, interestingly enough the part of the tattoo that's currently most faded, and almost entirely gone in some places, is the portion nearest the armpit, which I guess experiences the most 'rubbing' through movement and from clothing. I often wonder if it's acting almost like a 'massage' to the area throughout the day, and bringing more blood/lymph movement to that spot? Or of it's literally just because that area is nearer to the trunk of the body? Who knows.

I have a treatment next weekend, so aside from the first couple of days I think I plan on pretty much leaving it alone for the duration of the healing/fading period, which will be a further 9 or 10 weeks. Plenty of exercise and healthy eating etc.

One final question: in your experience, do you find that any hyperpigmentation in the skin tends to resolve over time? From the outset the grey shading in my tattoo turned a light shade of brown. I still don't know if this was a change in colour within the ink itself (I suppose the ink could have been mixed with white which could have in turn changed colour after laser interaction?) or an increase in melanin in the skin as an inflammatory response. Those areas are very light now, but there is still a small amount of ink that needs targeting. My worry is that treating the areas again with a higher fluence (which I guess will be needed to disperse the remaining small amount of ink) could further prolong the hyperpigmentation (if that's what it is) - but I've given these areas around 8 months away from the laser now, and they don't seem to have cleared completely. I guess my goal currently is to clear all remaining ink then hope any pigmentary changes within the skin correct themselves in the months after my last treatment.

Thanks again for your help.

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@wilks1986 - 50% of hypo-pigmentation will resolve in 18 months. But typically you need to be a skin type 3-4-5 to even get hypo-pigmentation. If your black shading went to brown, I'm akin to believe the black pigment had a heavy concentration of iron. As it's fractured, the 'new side' is exposed to the oxygen in your blood and will start to rust. I have successfully continued fading this and it's gone virtually away, but time is what works best in these situations.

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I just got my tattoo on my forearm.

I got it meanwhile I was on vacation and after I cameback to my country I realised what a mistake I've done since then I hate it , I cant sleep and I cant concentrate on anything besides thinking DOES LASER REMOVAL does actually work ?

In my research I see a lot of people getting lasered in youtube videos , bunch of ''fake doctor'' websites with results ? I've never seen a tattoo which was lasered and healed I cant find such thing in the god damn internet, jesus !

Please enlight me give me some faith. Im already looking for a tattoo removal procedure even though it was just done + you've to wait 6 months before laser ? Will it leave any sign of a tattoo after the treatment ? I researched a lot I spent a lot of time in blogs/websites etc. Recently was browsing people results in RealSelf and I cant seem to find a tattoo which was healed is it because its a new process ? Or is it because it doesnt work :(

I manage to find some tattoos which are eliminated , but left with skin marks ( I mean the contures of deleted tattoo like after you remove the ink you still can see same thing just created by ur skin :D dont know if that makes any sense).

Its in such visible spot that I really want it gone it has 6 words & 17 letters ( i mean in 6 words 17 letters) It is a homemade tattoo by an amateur artist does it help my in anyway ? Please advice me and thank you in advance.

Sorry for the poor english :mad:

P.S. forgot to mention that all the tattoo is in black and letters are thin I mean their contures + in 1 place even after the tattoo was done in healing process I could've seen 1 place in which the ink wasnt injected deep enough it looks a little thin and faded already ( its not faded but its clearer then the rest of my tattoo letters)

P.S.S forgot to mention the weird paranoia I have when people actually claim to've them removed and then suddently they dont know how to post a picture in forum... makes my feel like everything is fake

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@wilks1986 - I'm honestly not a really big fan of talking specs online, especially with people who aren't my clients / who I don't have charts for. Sorry if this sounds rude, but I don't want to overstep my bounds with another professional.

@Ehhh - you can start treatment 10-12 weeks post tattoo, how long will it take? Lots of factors, but you could expect it to take 10-12, maybe a few more or a few less. You might also never have it fully removed, it could be 95%+ but might not be 100% gone.

Amaeture tattoos can be tricky because they may have put too much pigment in, not enough, too deep, had barbed needles, running their machine with too much or too little voltage, the list goes on and on.

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aight well another question if u manage to remove all the ink from the skin you'll have those contures of the tattoo where the ink was placed originally. will it ever heal ? comeback to the normal state of skin after the ink is removed ?

and other question lasers were used for 20 ++ years but its so hard to find any final results in forums... non-existant. + people who got their tattoos removed ( if they ever did ) never share their lasered tattoo later on photos... :((( why's that. it could help so many people and yet after so many years you have to browse gooogle so dang hard to find some result which isint photoshoped.... dang

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@Ehhh - I'm not sure what you mean by "contours" of the tattoo where the ink was placed" - please try to elaborate?

The reason is many regarding your question why no one shows finally removed photos. I will only speak on my personal experience.

Full removal takes 1.5-2 years, in some cases longer.

80% of my clients, maybe more, don't want full removal, they want fading for a cover up. This means a much smaller pool for me to shoot images of.

A lot of people who want tattoo removal when they start treatment end up changing their minds half way through and get a cover-up.

A lot of people who want tattoo removal never follow through to the end.

I don't post a lot of photos on here in this forum because I'm not here to advertise what I do, I'm here to help people get a better understanding of what's available... but I do understand your frustration which is why we post a LOT to social media and our website.

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is full removal ever actually possible? say in a perfect situation, if a client is dedicated to their treatment course, do you believe complete or close to complete removal is attainable?

i do have another question - i have heard that some lasers will turn white ink dark. how common is this and does it disqualify an individual from being a candidate for laser if there are small white highlights in their tattoo?

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is full removal ever actually possible? say in a perfect situation, if a client is dedicated to their treatment course, do you believe complete or close to complete removal is attainable?

Sorry for the late reply @rocketqueen, I stopped getting email notifications from this thread a while ago and can't figure out why. I will never, as a professional, quote 100% tattoo removal. My idea of 100% is different from yours, and it's not a tangible thing to fight over. Even in my "best case" scenarios, I can still find trace amounts of pigment if I look hard enough. A casual stranger who didn't know the history, wouldn't know though.

Also bear in mind, "dedicated to treatment course" isn't always a factor in how successful any given removal will be. How the tattoo was done (scarring, over worked area, dragging or barbed needles, etc.), pigment used, pigment saturation, liner vs. shader, location on the body, immune system, age, age of tattoo and quality of life will all play roles in how much any given tattoo will be functionally able to be removed. There is no black and white answer with tattoo removal.

i do have another question - i have heard that some lasers will turn white ink dark. how common is this and does it disqualify an individual from being a candidate for laser if there are small white highlights in their tattoo?

Not some lasers, all lasers used for tattoo removal have the possibility of white ink turning black. In fact, many colors shift during removal. Black ink will often fade to brown or sometimes if it's got a deep indigo blue, that starts to show after a few sessions. There is no MSDS for tattoo ink, without knowing the ingredients there's always a possibility of color shift. Moreover, even if we do know the ingredients, there likely hasn't been any long term studies done on the effects caused from exposure to lasers.

To directly answer the question, it doesn't disqualify someone but it does cause for a very serious conversation about realistic expectations in my office.

Please understand that my job is to create very realistic expectations about what can and cannot be accomplished. The ol, "well my friend went here and they had the best and it's now gone after X treatments" simply holds no weight. Every tattoo done on every person is unique.

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