Our board-certified plastic surgeon, licensed medical aestheticians, and other staff are passionate about all things aesthetic, and we love watching new trends take their course. Tattoos overall have been a mainstay for decades, but there’s one curious trend we’re keeping our eye on: white ink tattoos. White ink itself is nothing new, but in the past, it’s primarily been mixed with other colors to make them lighter. Over the past few years, though, more and more people are being drawn to tattoos with entirely white ink. We can’t blame them – the subtlety and the unique look are both classy and trendy. But there’s a serious catch (at least for now), and it involves the tattoo removal process.
Why it’s Difficult to Remove White Tattoos
First, you need to understand the basics of how laser tattoo removal works. Thinking back to your elementary school science classes, you probably learned that colors are formed when some types of light are absorbed and others are reflected. For example, an object will look red because it only absorbs select types of light. Black looks dark because it absorbs all types of light. In laser tattoo removal, we target certain colors of ink by using the type of light that they can absorb. When the ink absorbs the light, it breaks up the ink particles so your body can remove them naturally and safely.
Here’s the problem, though: white reflects all types of light. Because it doesn’t absorb light as easily as other ink colors, it can be very difficult to treat white ink. This is also true for light colors that may involve some white (like a light blue that was made by mixing dark blue and white ink). The white ink acts as a shield, making it more difficult to treat and remove the other color as well. Every tattoo takes a different number of treatments to remove, and our laser specialists will be able to offer more information at your free laser tattoo removal consultation, but white tattoos do typically take longer because of the light absorption.
There’s also another potential issue with white ink. You may have heard that white ink can get darker from laser tattoo removal, and it’s true. This is because white tattoo ink often contains titanium oxide and/or zinc, both of which can darken with exposure to light. This may make it take many more sessions to remove your tattoo.
This is a lot of information, but the bottom line is this: while every patient and every tattoo responds to laser tattoo removal slightly differently, white tattoos are more difficult to predict. They can often be faded significantly, but they might not be able to be removed entirely. In other words, it’s not impossible to remove a white tattoo, but it can be more difficult and require many more treatment sessions.
The moral of the story is to “think before you ink.” It’s a good rule for any tattoo, but especially for white ink. White tattoos can be beautiful pieces of artistry, and we’re strong believers in the benefits of loving your appearance – just make sure you know the extra hurdles they can put up if you decide to get it removed in the future.
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