Tattoo removal can be tricky business. There are many factors that may determine how many sessions are required to removal a tattoo including the size of the tattoo, density of the tattoo ink, the type of tattoo ink, age of the patient, comorbid medical problems and certain medications, scarring of the tattoo, and colors of tattoo ink.
Now we can confidently add one more major confounding variable: CIGARETTE SMOKING. Yep, that’s right; if there weren’t enough reasons to quit smoking already then here is another one: smoking cigarettes can reduce your chances of successfully removing your tattoo in 10 or fewer sessions by a whopping 70%.
A study published in JAMA Dermatology attempted to determine which factors were the most likely to determine success of completing tattoo removal within 10 sessions. One of the most predictive findings was cigarette smoking. 75.2% of non-smokers achieved removal of their tattoos by session ten compared with only 22.3% of smokers by session ten!
This makes sense. Cigarette smoking is well-known to impair wound healing. Surgeons have been warning their patients for years to stop smoking after operations and cosmetic procedures. Tattoo removal is jump started by the laser, but it is the body’s own immune system that ultimately does the work of mopping up the tattoo ink. Cigarette smoking predictably suppresses the immune response.
So, if you are a smoker, do your lungs, your heart, your blood vessels and now also, your tattoo, a favor: quit smoking!
Smoking reduces tattoo removal success!