To put it plainly, higher amounts of melanin in the skin mean that heat is absorbed faster and spreads through the surface that it’s come into contact with faster.
We’ve all worn a dark-colored shirt on a hot, sunny summer day – it feels much heavier and much hotter than wearing something in a light color. Likewise, melanin’s high energy absorption leads to the skin taking in too much energy from the laser and burning. This means that laser tattoo removal on dark skin is more prone to complications.
Inexperienced doctors and tattoo removal clinics are likely to use the laser for too long or on too high a setting when treating dark skin, which can cause unnecessary pain and burns. When skin is burned with a laser, it is likely to heal slowly, become infected, or develop painful blisters. There is also a high likelihood of developing scars after the burn heals.
Ineffective laser treatment on black and brown skin increases the likelihood of the skin developing hypopigmentation, or loss of color. Most cases will not be permanent and will go away after a while. However, a very small percentage of cases of hypopigmentation are more permanent, and leave behind a light-colored outline of the original tattoo, almost like a ghost of tattoos past.
Permanent cases of hypopigmentation are more likely to occur when laser tattoo removal procedures are performed by a careless or inexperienced individual. If you have fair skin, chances are the hypopigmentation will not be as noticeable, or maybe easy to cover up. If you have darker skin, concealing the ghost tattoo will be much harder.
But wait! There is some good news.
Newest innovations in laser tattoo removal technology, such as the PicoWay®, help ensure a safe, quick, and effective tattoo removal process. However, it is important to remember that each tattoo is different, and will respond differently to treatment. Thus, you should always pick a reputable tattoo removal specialist who has experience working with darker skin tones to perform the procedure – there is less risk of burns or mistakes. When working with a reliable specialist things like hypopigmentation, scarring and infections are much less likely to occur, and the healing period in between treatments takes far less time than with other tattoo removal technologies. The newest, safest laser removal techniques, combined with proper aftercare are usually enough to avoid most adverse effects of tattoo removal, though it is important to remember that no two tattoos are ever alike.