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  • Writer's pictureZak Lockhead

Why does my tattoo go white after Laser Tattoo removal?

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Laser tattoo removal can be scary, and it is completely normal to have a few worries and questions about the immediate side effects that occur following laser tattoo removal. You would have to be a little mad not to! One of these side effects that will probably occur is the tattoo immediately turning white.

Laser tattoo removal frosting
The frosting that occurs immediately following Laser tattoo removal is normal

As a laser technician, one of the main questions I get is ‘Well why has my tattoo gone white’ or ‘is this normal?’. Maybe you have also have wondered this question, so I have written this short article to answer this question.

Frosting after Laser tattoo removal
Frosting after Laser tattoo removal

So, why does the tattoo go white immediately after tattoo removal?

Basically, this is called ‘frosting’ and is a completely normal and even sought after side effect. This frosting happens when the light fired from the tattoo removal device is absorbed by the ink in the tattoo which leads to the ink particle heating up. When the tattoo ink heats this causes carbon dioxide to form on the surface on skin. This carbon dioxide is white, which is why the tattoo immediately turns white.

Laser tattoo remova
(1) The tattoo ink is suspended in the skin, (2) The energy emitted by the laser device hit this ink (3) this causes a chemical reaction and the release of carbon dioxide. This particles are white which turn the tattoo white transiently

Does this last forever?

That would be nice wouldn’t it, I mean the tattoo would be virtually gone in one session. Unfortunately it doesn’t, with this frosting only lasting for around 30 minutes.

But isn’t this dangerous?

Not at all, frosting is perfectly normal and actually a desired result of laser tattoo removal. Normally, frosting shows that the laser light has penetrated the dermis and has been absorbed by the tattoo ink (which is what we want). You see, when you fire the tattoo removal device it can go in several directions which can lead to it not actually hitting the tattoo ink. This laser light can also be reflected from the skin. However, frosting shows us that the energy emitted from the Laser device has hit the ink and caused a reaction which is what we want.

My tattoo has not frosted, has it been done wrong?

Not necessarily no. The more tattoo removal sessions you have, the more ink that will be removed from the body. As a result, there is less pigment in the skin (less tattoo ink) so there is less carbon dioxide that will be formed during tattoo removal sessions. This is also the case with older tattoos, where the ink may have faded with time.

Laser tattoo removal
Expected amount of frosting: A) Whole tattoo should frost, B) minimal frosting, C) no frosting

As always, thank you for reading! Remember I offer a free consultation call for all your laser devices.

Dr Lockhead

0113 418 0464


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