Skin type matters in laser tattoo removal, as it is a vital factor influencing the outcome of the procedure. Ink pigments interact with the skin’s composition, and this chemical reaction varies from person to person.
While laser tattoo removal is hailed as the golden standard for erasing tattoos, the process in itself isn’t entirely foolproof. Different factors such as the kind of ink pigment used, ink color, and skin color dictate how soon (or late) the design can disappear from your skin.
It’s important to be aware of the role of your skin type if you’re looking into removing your tattoo. This helps you manage your expectations as well as guide you should you decide to get another tattoo in the future.
To determine skin type, professionals turn to the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale. This classification system came about in 1975, thanks to Thomas Fitzpatrick of Harvard Medical School.
As always, it’s best to consult a licensed professional for a thorough and reliable assessment of your skin type. However, you can come up with a partial diagnosis on your own. Simply answer the skin-type quiz, and compare your outcome on the results sheet shown after the quiz.
If taking online quizzes isn’t really your thing, fret not. We’ll talk about the Fitzpatrick Skin Type classification down below so you’ll know what to expect when your doctor or esthetician assesses your skin type.
According to Thomas Fitzpatrick, you can classify skin according to its “response to sun exposure in terms of the degree of burning and tanning.” This may sound complex, but the man based his claims on scientific grounds.
See, skin color is determined by the amount of the pigment melanin in it. In other words, it’s melanin that’s responsible for your being fair, or dark, or olive. If you’ve plenty of melanin, your skin color’s likely to be dark. On the other hand, if you’ve lesser melanin, your skin color’s likely to be light.
Here is a visual representation of the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale:
As you can see, the scale is divided into types, from type I to type VI. Individuals under the type I category are of Caucasian descent, with blue eyes and fair hair. Darker-skinned Caucasians, Asians, Mediterranean, and Hispanic individuals usually fall under types IV and V.
For Latin, Middle Eastern, and Indian persons, as well as lighter-skinned Africans, their skin tone is usually classified as type V. Dark-skinned Africans are typically a type VI.
Skin type matters in laser tattoo removal because it somehow predicts how effective the process will be on your skin.
Light skin tones react more intensely to sun exposure than their darker-skinned counterparts. In other words, if you want to have your tattoo removed and you’ve fair skin, you’ll likely see faster results.
This is because the laser light is attracted to the dark pigments in your tattoo. Since your light skin has a low melanin content, the laser light “ignores” it and concentrates on the pigment instead.
If you’ve a dark complexion and would like to have your tattoo erased, you’d require different settings than light-skinned individuals. Since your skin contains more melanin, the laser light can get “confused” and somehow target not only your tattoo but also your skin.
In this scenario, your skin faces the risk of burning or scarring, which are possible side effects of laser tattoo removal. Other likely complications include hypo- or hyperpigmentation, which means a difference in skin color.
Skin type matters in laser tattoo removal, because knowing your type beforehand helps you make better, informed choices for aftercare.
With this, scroll down below to find out the corresponding aftercare tips for your specific skin type.
Because you tend to burn the fastest among the other skin types, it’s imperative you pile up on sunscreen. Go for those that have an SPF rating of 30 or higher. Your skin is extremely tender and sensitive after tattoo removal. Therefore, you need to protect it from further damage at all costs.
Even if you spend hours under the sun, you rarely get that tanned look you want so badly. As with the type I classification, you need to be obsessive with your sun-protection methods.
Religiously apply sunscreen, those with SPF 30 or higher. Stay under the shade every time you’re out. Always have an umbrella and a hat with you. Inspect your skin regularly, and report suspicious spots to your doctor right away.
While you don’t burn as fast as the prior 2 types, you’re still not immune from the damaging effects of the sun. Slather on a generous amount of sunscreen (one shot glass for each limb) before heading out. Also, make sure you have on sun-protecting garments.
Just because you tan easily and are less likely to burn doesn’t mean you can get lax with your sun-protective habits. Remember one powerful reason why skin type matters in laser tattoo removal? One word: protection.
Therefore, shield yourself as much as possible from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Apply sunscreen on a regular basis. You can get away with using one with SPF 15, but you can go for those with higher SPFs too.
Remember to reapply after 2 hours, or after excessive sweating. Take note of your skin’s usual moles and spots. If something’s out of the ordinary, consult your doctor immediately.
Individuals who are of this skin type aren’t spared from the skin-damaging effects of the sun. In fact, if they aren’t careful, they can get acral lentiginous melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. This form is common in darker-skinned individuals, and the spots often appear in areas not frequently exposed to the sun.
As with the other skin types, pay attention to your skin. Consult your doctor for spots that appear out of place. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Sunscreen is still a must for people who have a type VI reading in the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale. Avoid the mentality that you can’t get skin cancer just because you’ve a dark complexion. This is dangerous, and can cost you your life if you aren’t careful.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is a form of skin cancer that’s common in darker-skinned persons. In fact, Bob Marley had this disease. What he thought was a mark he got from a soccer injury turned out to be a deadly melanoma.
This can’t be stressed enough: sunscreen is your skin’s biggest defense against skin cancer. Pick a product that has at least SPF 15. If you spend a large chunk of your time outdoors, go for one that has a higher SPF.
Laser tattoo removal, as with any medical procedure, has its own set of risks and perks. Now you know why skin type matters in laser tattoo removal, you need to look into all the possible options to ensure your skin recovers nicely after the procedure.
There are a host of postcare methods you can do for excellent recovery. These include using topical medication, following proper aftercare, and keeping regular consultations with your doctor or tattoo-removal professional.
With this way, you can be on the road to recovery faster and more efficiently.