October to December is peak flu season, and if you’re getting laser tattoo removal treatment during the winter months, it’s important to support your immune system so you can stay healthy, heal quickly, and improve the outcome of the procedure.
Here’s what you need to know about the immune system, its role in laser tattoo removal treatment, and how you can boost your immunity during the process.
The Immune System and Its Role in Laser Tattoo Removal
The immune system consists of a network of special organs, cells, and chemicals that work together to fight infections caused by microbes. The main components include white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow. The immune system protects the body by killing microbes and eliminating foreign objects.
The lymphatic system, in particular, plays a critical role in the laser tattoo removal process. During the procedure, lasers that match the wavelengths of the ink colors are applied to the tattooed area. The lights are selectively absorbed and heat up the ink particles, which shatter into smaller molecules.
The body treats these ink molecules as “foreign objects.” Because they’re now small enough to be removed via the bloodstream, the immune system flushes away the shattered ink particles through the lymphatic system during the weeks following a laser tattoo removal treatment session.
When the ink particles are removed from the body, the tattoo starts to fade. Over a series of treatment sessions, more inks are shattered for removal by the lymphatic system, eventually leaving the skin free of ink.
What Happens to the Immune System When You’re Sick During Laser Tattoo Removal Treatment
When you’re sick (e.g., having flu-like symptoms), the various components of the immune system get activated. The lymphatic system plays a critical role in carrying white blood cells throughout the body to fight germs and infections. Lymph nodes also act as filters for your immune system by catching germs and dead or damaged cells, then destroying them.
When you get sick before tattoo removal, your lymphatic system is already working hard. Undergoing the tattoo removal procedure can add more workload to the immune system and impact both your body’s ability to fight the illness and eliminate ink molecules. As a result, your symptoms may last longer, and the tattoo removal treatment may not be as effective.
How to Support Your Immune System and Stay Healthy During Laser Tattoo Removal Treatment
During the tattoo removal process, the laser only serves to break down the ink. Your body’s immune system is what finishes the job by removing the ink particles, so you need to make sure it’s working optimally—particularly during the flu season. Here’s how to strengthen your immunity:
- – Drink Lots of Fluids
Increase your water intake before and after the laser tattoo removal sessions to help your body naturally expel the ink particles. Staying hydrated also supports the body in flushing out toxins, which can increase the effectiveness of the tattoo removal process.
- – Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Keep your immune system in tip-top shape by eating nutritious foods, exercising, and taking the necessary vitamins to promote healing. Smoking also weakens your body’s defense and can decrease the effectiveness of laser tattoo removal by 70%!
- – Wait If You’re Sick
If you get sick before tattoo removal session or start having flu-like symptoms, you should wait until you’re well before continuing the procedure. This will allow the immune system to focus on one thing at a time—first getting you healthy, and then removing the ink particles—so you can get better treatment results.
- – Get Ample Sleep and Manage Stress
Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can weaken the immune system. To keep your cortisol levels in check, you should get enough sleep and use relaxation techniques to manage your day-to-day stress level.
- – Avoid Alcohol and Drug Use
Alcohol reduces the number of leukocytes and impairs nutrient absorption, which can weaken the immune system. Certain prescription medications and recreational drugs can also inhibit the function of leukocytes and impact your ability to fight infection, which can lead to complications during laser tattoo removal.
- – Avoid Infection with Proper Aftercare
You want your immune system to focus on removing ink particles instead of fighting off infections after the procedure. Performing proper aftercare can help speed up healing:
- – Clean the treatment area daily with cool water and cover it with a non-stick sterile bandage if necessary.
- – Avoid hot water, including swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas.
- – Avoid prolonged sun exposure and use proper sun protection, such as sunscreen with at least SPF 40 and 20% zinc content.
- – Keep blisters and scabs intact to prevent bacteria from getting through the skin and causing infections.
- – Use topicals, such as vitamin E oil or hydrocortisone cream to relieve itchiness and prevent scratching, which can increase the chances of infection.
Can You Get Laser Tattoo Removal Treatment If You’re Immunocompromised?
When your immune system is compromised, the lymphatic system won’t be as effective in removing the shattered ink particles from your body. You’re also more likely to get sick since the tattoo removal process taxes the immune system.
To get the best results from your tattoo removal treatment, shorten healing time, and avoid getting an infection, you should wait until you’re healthy before having laser tattoo removal sessions.
If you’re getting laser tattoo removal sessions during the flu season, make sure to pay special attention to your overall health and keep an eye out for symptoms that could signal a compromised immune system so you can get the best results from your treatment.