Can Red Ink in a Tattoo Be Removed?

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Is the red in your tattoo not as red as it used to be? What happens when the vibrant colors of your old tattoo have faded with time? Many people wonder if you can remove your color tattoos. Laser can remove some colors, but struggles with others. Tatt2Away, the non-laser alternative, removes all color tattoos equally well.

Why are color tattoos hard to remove with laser?

The way laser light reacts with tattoo pigment is a matter of physics. The colors we see are caused by light reflecting from objects at a certain wavelength. A red tattoo is red because it absorbs all colored visible light except red, which it reflects instead.

So how is a tattoo in red ink removed? With laser tattoo removal, the laser machine has to be calibrated to the right wavelength. The laser output must be a frequency that is absorbed by the red pigment, causing it to super-heat and fragment into smaller particles. These smaller pieces are then picked up by the circulatory system and moved deeper into the body where the red tattoo is no longer visible.

Tatt2Away removes red tattoos, just like all colors, by drawing the old ink out through the surface of the skin. Because Tatt2Away does not use lasers, it can remove all colors. Even difficult or impossible inks like white titanium dioxide or UV tattoos are removed by Tatt2Away in just a few sessions.

What makes some colors harder to remove than others?

Some colored tattoo inks are difficult for lasers to affect. This varies with manufacturers and the lasers they use in their machines, but colors like shades of blue or green often pose a problem for laser removal. Again, it comes down to the reflectiveness of the inks and which colors of light they will absorb. If the frequency used in the laser is not absorbed by the ink, it won’t be removed effectively.

Some complex pigments might reflect more than one wavelength of light at once. Many black inks are mixed using blues or greens. If the laser machine is calibrated for black but not blue, some of the ink will be faded but the blue will remain. This effect is often seen in faded tattoos that have been treated with lasers. Some of the colors may have been removed, but others are still visible. Laser technicians call these “stubborn colors,” because some difficult shades of ink need to be blasted over and over before you see results.

It’s fairly common for a tattoo with “stubborn” colors to be subjected to laser removal up to 20 times, with some of the color still visible. The damage caused over time by this many laser sessions can make the skin feel different and be more difficult to tattoo with a new design. The epidermis, the layer of skin where the tattoo pigment stays in your tattoos, can be thinned by laser ablation to the point where a tattoo artist will struggle to work with it.

If your color tattoo removal goals include the possibility of a new tattoo, Tatt2Away may be the better option. Up to 35% of the old ink is removed in just the first session, and all colors come out equally well. Since there are no “stubborn colors” and no need to treat the skin a dozen times or more, you are left with a healthy epidermis ready to receive new body art once the treatments are finished.

Can Red Ink in a Tattoo Be Removed? was originally published in Tatt2Away on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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