2. It will take months—if not a year or more. Tattoos don't just disappear after a once-over with the laser. (I wish!) I've had six sessions, and I'd wager that I need about five more, despite the fact that my initial estimate was six to eight sessions. It takes a long time to complete because each time the tattoo is lasered, particles are broken down and digested by the body's immune system. The regeneration period is up to eight weeks, and the next time you go, the laser breaks down new particles of pigment. And so on and so forth.
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.”
Before getting a tattoo, make sure that you’re in the pink of heath. During the tattooing session, your body’s immune system will start kicking into overdrive. So you must live a healthy lifestyle a few weeks prior to getting a tattoo – Meaning no alcohol, no drugs, and get the right amount of sleep. You must also eat a proper meal before you head on to your appointment, to keep your blood sugar levels up. Bring some refreshments with you, like a water bottle and snacks – A tattoo session could last for as long as four hours.
Dowdell says that Celtic and tribal tattoos are on the way out (and those similar in design). You might associate them with muscled celebrities and athletes, and recognize them for their ornate patterns or scenery. A Celtic tattoo uses black ink to background crosses, trees, or folkloric animals. A tribal tattoo uses black ink to fill in spiraling, zigzagging arrows and lines, often migrating from the pec onto the shoulder and arm. The tricky thing about tattoos is that you still see the ones that are “out of style”, because they’re permanently on the wearer. So, Dowdell’s point is that he’s doing far fewer of these types anymore, in favor of the aforementioned ones. As seen on: The Rock’s shoulder and arm. (His is technically a Polynesian tattoo, but stylistically in the same vein.)
Hamlet says it's common for clients to ask for a few changes here and there after the design is done — but recommends going into the process knowing that you shouldn't micromanage the whole thing. Give your tattoo artist the leeway to be creative and use the artistry that is his or her forte. On that same note, don't be afraid to ask for something different if you don't like it. Hamlet says he works on a design until everyone is happy with it.
A sleeve tattoo comes from the cooperation between the tattooist and the customer, in order to show a theme that they have both liked and agreed on. Occasionally, the sleeve is made when someone has plenty of small, individual tattoos found on their leg or arm. This person eventually has them linked to each other with a background tattooing, to be able to create a complete sleeve tattoo. A full sleeve tattoo can take endless hours of non-stop tattooing, sometimes taking days, weeks, months, and even years to finish. Tattoo sleeves have become so popular that plenty of clothing companies have created apparel that simulates the look and feel of a tattoo sleeve with the help of a transparent mesh, that’s printed with tattoo designs. If a person gets both of their arms tattooed as a part of a full-body tattoo, this is also referred to as a sleeve tattoo.
Regardless, if you are going to start with a single tattoo, in any location, be sure to tell your artist that your eventual end goal is a full sleeve. “She or he can leave the piece in a way that it can be added to in time,” Gualteros says. “Basically, to get the best result for this, you should ask for flow.” (That’s tattoo-artist speak for “something that will flow nicely with other designs”.)
Tattoos consist of thousands of particles of tattoo pigment suspended in the skin. While normal human growth and healing processes will remove small foreign particles from the skin, tattoo pigment particles are too big to be removed automatically. Laser treatment causes tattoo pigment particles to heat up and fragment into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are then removed by normal body processes. Q-switched lasers produce bursts of infrared light at specific frequencies that target a particular spectrum of color in the tattoo ink. The laser passes through the upper layers of the skin to target a specific pigment in the lower layers.
Though laser centers and spas are popping up everywhere, it’s important to make sure laser removal is done by a dermatologist. “[Dermatologists] know what to recognize, how to look for a complication, and who not to treat,” Robert Anolik, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells SELF. With laser tattoo removal, there’s a risk of bleeding, infection, and scarring, all of which can be successfully treated, but only under the proper care of a dermatologist. It’s up to you to check the qualifications of your practitioner. New Jersey is the only state that requires licensed physicians to operate a laser, meaning that in most places, the path to offering laser removal has fewer roadblocks than it should.