Not everyone is an ideal candidate for laser removal. “Removal is always going to be more difficult in patients who have a darker skin tone based on laser physics and the way the laser works,” says Susan Bard, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery. “The laser targets pigment that’s in the dye, but at the same time, it can also target melanin in your skin. So, the darker your skin, the more complicated it will be to utilize a laser to remove the tattoo.” Laser removal can cause burns and hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones.
Q-switched Nd:YAG: 1064 nm. This laser creates a near-infrared light (invisible to humans) which is poorly absorbed by melanin, making this the only laser suitable for darker skin. This laser wavelength is also absorbed by all dark tattoo pigments and is the safest wavelength to use on the tissue due to the low melanin absorption and low hemoglobin absorption. This is the wavelength of choice for tattoo removal in darker skin types and for black ink.
If you know that eventually you want a full sleeve, then Gualteros advises coming up with the full-arm design ahead of time, instead of starting off with just a few sporadic tattoo ideas. This is true for both tribal-style tattoos as well as a series of more random, disconnected ones. “When you’re working with a blank canvas, you can really think through the entire composition to make it cohesive,” he says. “If you’re working with existing tattoos, you just have to try to make it as seamless as possible.”
For those peeps who freak out at the commitment or thought of getting so inked, then check out this research: A small study at the University of Alabama found that those with multiple tattoos showed a better immune response to new ink than those who were going under the tattoo gun for the first time. This suggests that tattooing might stimulate the immune system, like how a vaccine does.
Hypopigmentation is more commonly observed in darker skin tones. It is more likely to occur with higher fluence and more frequent treatments. Sometimes lighter skin exhibits hypopigmentation after a series of treatments. Allowing more time between treatments reduces chances of hypopigmentation. Since it is more likely to see hypopigmentation after multiple treatments, some practitioners suggest waiting a few additional weeks, after a few sessions. Usually treatment stops until hypopigmentation resolves in a matter of months.
Geometric tattoos are probably one of the most trending designs from the last couple of years. They look great, are timeless and not too expensive. Above is an example of a silver and black one on the forearm, which is a very popular spot for people to get tattoos now that they’re more socially acceptable and not necessarily restricted to areas that you need to cover up anymore.