Wondering whether laser tattoo removal is safe for your skin type? At Removery, our experienced laser technicians use the Fitzpatrick Scale as a guide for tattoo removal on different skin types. Based on where your skin falls on the scale, they’ll adjust the settings to keep your skin safe. Carmen Brodie, Removery’s VP of clinical operations, explains exactly how this works, and dives into how the Fitzpatrick Scale affects laser tattoo removal on a variety of complexions.
The Fitzpatrick scale measures the amount of melanin in your skin. This is super important when dealing with laser tattoo removal, says Carmen. It goes beyond measuring just how light or dark you are, which can vary over time due to natural tanning. Other factors, like whether your skin has freckles and how prone you are to tanning vs. burning, help determine which skin type you have. This all relates to ancestry—where your family is from and the degree of melanin in people from that part of the world, explains Carmen.
“It goes 1 through 6— consecutively getting darker,” and “We use that data, that understanding, to know what settings we can use for different treatments.”
What does this mean for each skin type? “You can treat skin types 1, 2, and 3 very aggressively—with very high settings—whereas, with skin type 4, you have to be a little less aggressive,” says Carmen. “With 5 and 6, you have to go really low and slow with your settings.” This is to ensure that the tattoo is being treated effectively without causing hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Learn more about skin types and tattoo removal below.
The color of the tattoo ink also influences a person’s treatment options. “There are different colors that are a little bit more difficult on different skin tones as well because of the aggressiveness you need [to target that ink] or the wavelengths that are attracted to the melanin and oxyhemoglobin,” says Carmen. Melanin and oxyhemoglobin are two components of skin that influence its color. In other words, a technician generally has to be more gentle with darker skin tones, even though some ink colors respond better to aggressive settings. In that cases, taking the slower more cautious route pays off in the long run.
With skin types 1 – 3, a technician can safely use a broader spectrum of wavelengths. “You can use a 532 with no problems whatsoever,” says Carmen. “You get into a 4, and you have to be more careful. There’s more melanin; there’s more oxyhemoglobin, so your laser gets a little confused in there sometimes,” she explains. “You have to be super careful with 5 and 6,” because the more melanin in the skin, the higher chance that the laser will mistake the skin pigment with the tattoo pigment. It’s important to be cautious when treating skin types 4-6 which is why our technicians typically use a lower setting to see the reaction of the tattoo.
With Removery, our experienced technicians know how to evaluate your specific needs based on your skin type. We are always happy to explain how the safety of your skin is the priority in every step of the removal process. Book a free consultation to discuss your removal options with a specialist today and learn more about what a laser actually does and how Removery became the experts in laser tattoo removal in our 101.1 and 101.2 laser tattoo removal series with Carmen Brodie, Removery’s V. P. of Clinical Operations.
We’re on a mission to give you the most straightforward, easy and efficient laser tattoo removal experience. Your estimate will be entirely bespoke to your tattoo; the size, the colours, the ink. It won’t take long and afterwards you’ll have a plan to finally get rid of your unwanted tattoo and get back to being you.