Purple Tattoo Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Purple Tattoo Removal

Purple ink tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last decade. The rich, bold tones of purple lend themselves beautifully to tattoo artwork. However, as with any permanent body modification, many people later regret their purple tattoos and seek removal.

Laser tattoo removal has become the preferred method for erasing unwanted tattoos, including those with purple pigment. Lasers work by targeting the ink particles under your skin and breaking them apart so your body’s immune system can flush them out. However, removing purple ink presents some unique challenges compared to other colors.

The wide range of purple tones, from light lavender to deep eggplant, makes it difficult for lasers to effectively target every shade. The shorter wavelengths of purple also mean it absorbs less laser energy. This makes complete removal of purple ink unlikely through laser treatments alone. Still, today’s advanced Q-switched and picosecond lasers can significantly lighten most purple tattoos, even if some stubborn tones remain.

In this guide, you’ll learn the key considerations around purple tattoo removal to set realistic expectations. With patience and the right laser type and techniques, you can successfully minimize the appearance of an unwanted purple tattoo.

Why Is Purple Tattoo Removal Difficult

Why Is Purple Tattoo Removal Difficult?

There are a few key reasons why purple tattoo ink is notoriously difficult to remove:

  • Shorter wavelengths – The wide range of purple shades have shorter wavelengths than other colors like black or red ink. Shorter wavelengths don’t absorb as much energy from laser treatments, making them harder to break up.
  • Variety of pigments – Purple ink can be created using different pigments. Some purples contain more blue, others more red. Since lasers target specific wavelengths, they may only effectively remove certain purple pigments.
  • Range of tones – Light lavender purple is very different from deep eggplant or magenta shades. It’s hard to find one laser setting that works on the entire spectrum.
  • Density of color – Heavy saturated purple tattoos leave more packed-in ink that is harder to reach compared to lighter watercolor styles.

With other colors, one or two laser sessions may be enough to fully remove the ink. But with purple, it often takes multiple treatments to make significant progress. Understanding these challenges sets proper expectations for removal.

Finding the Right Laser for Purple Tattoo Removal

When it comes to lasers, not all are created equal for purple tattoo removal. Here are the most effective laser types:

  • Q-Switched Lasers: The gold standard in tattoo removal lasers. They deliver ultra-short pulses that shatter ink pigments. Q-switched lasers include the Alexandrite, Ruby, and Nd: YAG lasers.
  • Picosecond Lasers: The newest generation of Q-switched lasers. Picosecond lasers deliver pulses in trillionths of seconds, faster than nanosecond platforms. Models like the PicoSure laser treat purple ink effectively.
  • Alexandrite Laser: The alexandrite laser delivers light at 755 nm, near the purple spectrum. In studies, alexandrite lasers removed 76-82% of purple tattoo ink after 6 sessions.
  • Nd: YAG Laser: The 1064 nm wavelength can treat purple well since it’s at the end of the color spectrum near infrared light. It may take more sessions than alexandrite but can work when other lasers fail.

Avoid UV lasers as they lack the specific wavelengths needed to target purple pigments. With the right laser choice, you can successfully lighten purple tattoos. See our guide on laser tattoo removal options and alternatives for more on choosing the ideal laser.

How Many Laser Sessions Are Needed?

The number of treatments needed depends on the tattoo’s size, location, color saturation, and your skin tone. Here are general estimates:

  • Small simple purple tattoos: Approximately 3-6 sessions
  • Medium purple tattoos: 6-8 sessions
  • Large dense purple tattoos: 8-12 sessions

Space sessions 6-8 weeks apart for proper healing between treatments. Using picosecond lasers can reduce sessions by around 20%. With patience, even difficult purple tones will gradually fade over multiple appointments.

What to Expect During Purple Tattoo Removal Sessions

The laser removal process itself only takes a few minutes depending on the size of your purple tattoo. First, the technician will clean and shave the treatment area, then provide protective eyewear. When ready, the laser handpiece will be positioned directly over the tattoo. As the laser fires pulses at the skin, you may feel a rubber band snapping sensation.

This is completely normal. The laser is sending out rapid bursts of energy that target and shatter the purple ink under the dermis. You can expect some minor discomfort but the process is tolerable for most people. Immediately afterward, the tattooed area will look swollen and whitened from the laser interaction with your skin. This fades quickly. Within 24 hours, expect redness, swelling, and possibly blistering as your body’s immune response kicks in to flush out the ink particles. This is all part of the normal healing process. Keep the area clean and follow aftercare directions to support proper healing.

Does Laser Removal Fully Erase a Purple Tattoo?

For many people, complete tattoo removal is unlikely after just laser treatments. Here’s what to expect:

  • With 6-12 sessions, expect around 75-90% reduction in purple ink
  • Large dense purple tattoos may retain a hazy shadow even after 12 treatments
  • Ink will gradually fade more over several years as your body continues flushing particles

The goal is to lighten the purple enough that the unwanted tattoo is no longer visible or recognizable. Further treatments like surgical excision can remove stubborn remaining ink.

Tattoo Removal Costs

On average, each laser session costs:

  • Small tattoo: $100-$150
  • Medium tattoo: $200-$300
  • Large tattoo: $300-$500

At 6-12 sessions needed, you may spend $600-$5000 or more for full removal. Options to lower costs include:

  • Opt for “spot treatments” only on the purple areas rather than full treatments
  • Seek package deals where prepaid sessions are discounted
  • Use Groupons or look for specials at tattoo expos
  • Apply for CareCredit financing if eligible

Shop around for reasonable pricing from reputable dermatology clinics with the right laser technology. Removing a regretted purple tattoo is worth the investment.

Conclusion

Purple tattoos come with unique removal challenges given their short wavelengths and variety of hues. However, today’s advanced Q-switched and picosecond lasers can successfully lighten most purple ink to the point of being unnoticeable. Finding a clinic experienced in purple pigments is key, as is having realistic expectations on costs and number of sessions.

While total erasure is difficult, most purple tattoos can be dramatically faded through consistent laser treatments over time. Combine this with proper at-home care between sessions, and you can minimize an unwanted purple tattoo for good. With the right approach, you can say goodbye to tattoo regret and restore your skin.

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