tattoo removal and tanning

Tanning and Tattoo Removal

Does your tattoo removal process get affected by tanning? If so, what should I know?

If you are planning a spring getaway down south remember you must schedule your treatments 2 weeks before active suntanning and 2 weeks after active suntanning. That includes tanning beds for pre-tanning! There are some key things you should know about tanning and tattoo removal.

Avoid PreTanning

Here’s why…

Getting a base tan to prevent burning is counterproductive. It’s like locking the car doors in your convertible with the top down. You have good intentions but it just doesn’t work. The tanning beds use UVA light which is responsible for deep tanning and photoaging. It’s the UVB light from the sun that burns your skin.

As for the danger of laser tattoo removal treatments too close to active sun-tanning may result in hyper(darkening of the skin) or hypo(whitening of the skin) pigmentation changes. The additional UV light from the sun makes the treatment results unpredictable with the uncontrolled added energy resulting in hyperpigmentation. Conversely, having the sun’s UV light in your skin then compounding that with the laser, it will lock onto the ink and the darkened skin and recognizing them both as chromophores to be pulverized. This results in the color of your skin being left white which could be temporary or even permanent.

To make a long story short, active tanning includes tanning beds. Not to be done 2 weeks either side of tattoo removal. If you must be in the sun wear a hat, and use a good quality sunblock that doesn’t smell like a pina colada.

Note: Look for UVA and UVB protection with zinc oxide and a newer ingredient Mexoryl which is great at blocking the photoaging effects of UVA.

Be kind to your skin and it will be kind to you.

Avoid It Even if Already in The Process of Tattoo Removal

If you are in the process of having a tattoo removed, it is important to know that you should refrain from doing applying self-tanning products, sunbathing or visiting a tanning bed before or soon after your treatments.

To understand why darkening your skin prior or immediately after a tattoo removal treatment, there are some commonly asked questions we should cover.

How does the laser pick up pigmentation on the skin?

With the Picoway laser that we use here at Unthink, the laser is able to determine dark pigmentation (or ink) on the skin. After it has been targeted, the device then sends an ultra-fast laser into the dermis of the skin, which ends up shattering the particles into very small fragments. Over time, these fragments are carried out of your body by your white blood cells and through the lymphatic system.

What does tanning do to your skin?

In regards to tanning in the sun and in tanning beds, there are two different types of rays that are produced: UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are around all year, while UVA rays are around predominantly in the warmer months. When UV or Ultraviolet rays are radiated onto the skin, this causes the body to produce melanin. Melanin makes our skin darker in an effort to protect our skin from harmful rays or to protect our skin from burning. Tanning beds produce these rays artificially and cause your skin to have the same effect that you would have if you were sitting in the sun.

As for self-tanners or spray tans, they are an alternative to exposing your skin to harmful UV rays and take away the risks that are involved with sunbathing. Self-tanners use an FDA approved chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When you apply a self-tanner or spray tan, the dihydroxyacetone reacts with your skin’s dead skin cells thus creating a glow or “tan” on your skin.

Why can’t I tan before or after my tattoo removal treatment(s)?

When there are high levels of melanin on your skin, specifically from tanning, this can cause your skin to burn or blister from the laser. The laser may pick up dark pigmentation on the skin that it may recognize as ink, but really it is something you do not want to remove. This could result in hypo (whitening of the skin) or hyper (darkening of the skin) that may leave a permanent scar. If you have been in the sun for long periods of time, your skin is not as strong or tight as it is naturally, which can cause more negative effects from the laser. If you refrain from sunbathing or going to a tanning bed, this will ensure that your skin is in the most natural and healthy state that it can be in for your treatment and will also assist in removing the tattoo in the fewest sessions as possible.

As for a fake tan (i.e. spray tan, as home tanning products), even though it is on the very surface of your skin, the laser may pick up on the darker pigmentation that could result in scarring. It is also important that you know that although all of the chemicals that are in self-tanners are FDA approved, they may have a negative reaction with the laser, thus resulting in complications or more sessions needed to remove the tattoo.

Overall: avoiding sunlight during the consult and during the process and follow aftercare instructions. Tanning and tattoo removal do NOT go together.

For more questions on tattoo removal, please contact us directly.

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