Effective Tattoo Removal Depends On Color, Size, And Smoking

Are you regretting that tattoo you got years ago? If so, the effectiveness of the tattoo removal can depend on how big the tattoo is, what colors it contains, and even whether or not you smoke.

Italian researchers treated 352 people between 1995 and 2010 and have said that they are the first ones to fully explore what can make some tattoos harder to remove than others have, reports USA Today.

They published their findings online on Monday in the Archives of Dermatology. The doctors in the study used the normal procedure for tattoo removal, which involved repeated laser treatments using devices called Q-switched lasers (QSL).

They found that 47 percent of the tattoos were removed in 10 sessions, while almost 75 percent were removed in 15 sessions. Success in removal depended on several factors, however.

They discovered that those covering more than 12 inches, those that contained colors besides black and red, those more than three years old, on feet or legs, and even those on a smoker were more difficult to remove.

Smoking was a factor in successful tattoo removal because smoking can impair the wound-healing process that helps to clear the ink after a treatment. The Wall Street Journal notes that a separate study that was also published in the Archives of Dermatology suggests that a different type of laser in development can remove tattoos using fewer treatments than the QSL laser.

The study regarding the new laser, called a picosecond alexandrite laser, involved 15 patients and was even partially funded by Cynosure Inc.. The firm is currently waiting for the US Food and Drug Administration in order to clear the laser for marketing.

The other study’s authors show that most patients may have their tattoos removed with four or fewer treatments, though they did not say if smoking was also a factor with the new laser.