Is Laser Tattoo Removal Possible for Dark Skin?
- Asked by Penzi in Flushing, NY
- 4 years ago
I am a very dark-skinned black woman interested in laser tattoo removal. From what I've read it seems questionable as to whether or not I am a candidate because of how dark my complexion is.
I don't develop keloids, have a few small (<1/2") hypertrophic scars that have smoothed over the years, and have never scarred from a burn. I have two tattoos that I am interested in removing (pictured is the larger of the two; approx. 4 x 4" on my right upper back).
Can anyone weigh in as to whether or not laser removal is possible, how many sessions would be required and expense?
Laser Tattoo Removal for Dark Skin
Tattoo removal in skin of color is certainly possible. Typically the Q-Switch Nd-Yag or Picosure lasers can target pigment in tattoo’d skin while protecting the surrounding, non-tattoo’d tissue. Black tattoos are still the most amenable to therapy. In our office, a tattoo of this size would cost about $500/session, however, multiple sessions would be required for complete removal. How many, you ask? I’d conservatively estimate 8-10.
Your hypertrophic scar history raises a bit of concern for me – I’d recommend a “test” spot first, free of charge, to gauge your response and make sure we’re on the same page in terms of expectations.
Web reference: http://www.bobbybukamd.com/services/#tattoo_laser
Laser Tattoo Removal for Dark Skin
Yes between 6-10 sessions depends in the office that it’s being done. The price change should be $3000.
Web reference: https://www.drjsalomon.com/tattoo_removal.asp
Laser Tattoo Removal for Dark Skin Types
Laser tattoo removal for dark skin types requires a Q-switched 1064nm Nd:Yag laser, which is the safest laser for tattoo removal in patients with darker skin types. Other tattoo removal lasers (such as a 532nm and 755nm laser) can target the melanin (pigmented cells) of the skin, which can result in scarring and pigment changes on the skin. The Q-switched 1064nm Nd:Yag laser does not have the same risk of scarring as other lasers used for tattoo removal, though it is important to visit a dermatologist with extensive experience removing tattoos on darker skinned patients.
Web reference: http://www.nyccosmeticdermatology.com/tattoo-removal-faq.htm
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Safe laser tattoo removal in dark skin
Laser tattoo removal is definitely safe and effective on darker skin types, as long as the Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is used. The safest tattoo color to treat is black (as depicted in your photo). The Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is safe because the wavelength of this laser (1064 nanometers) is longer than that of the Q-switched Ruby (694 nm) and Alexandrite (755 nm) lasers. The longer wavelength of the Nd:YAG laser has relatively little effect on melanin pigment within the epidermis. The other two lasers are safe on lighter skin types but carry a risk of pigmentary change in darker skin.
Only Q-switched lasers can remove tattoos without causing scarring. In my book "Understanding Cosmetic Laser Surgery" (University Press of Mississippi, 2004) there is an extensive discussion of Q-switched lasers used to remove tattoos.
Tattoo removal with the Q-switched laser requires several treatments (six or more for a professional tattoo). Black color tattoos can generally be 100% removed. The fee depends largely on the size of the tattoo; for the tattoo pictured the fee would likely be $300-400 per treatment.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.