Is It Safe to Remove a Small Tattoo at Home with Salt? (photo)

I have a small tattoo on my bikini line and I think I want to remove it and put it elsewhere. I saw online people use salt (mixed with water) at home to remove small tattoos. Is that safe? What are the pros and cons of doing it this way vs laser treatment?

Doctor Answers (7)

Salt is of historical importance only for tattoo removals

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Salt removal of tattoos were an ancient practice, first developed in the middle east, centuries ago. This works like a dermabrasion, essentially removing the layers of skin to reach the tattoo. 
Tattoos, as one knows, are placed in the very deepest layers of skin, and hence dermabrasion needs to go to this depth. Can or does this work? The answer is yes! Do we use it now? No. This is because the chances of scarring is very high, and selective lasers that target pigment, such as Q Switch lasers are much more effective, and infinitely safer. Laser removal has taken tattoo removal out of the salt age( Stone Age) .

Even newer lasers such as the Pico are better than the current Nano lasers. 

Dr Davin Lim 
Consultant Laser Dermatologist, 


Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Home treatments won’t penetrate deeply enough to help.

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The idea behind an at-home saltwater scrub is that the abrasion process will gradually wear through the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and down into the dermis (where the tattoo ink actually lies), allowing access and removal of the ink in that fashion. First of all, abrading your skin down to the dermis would be incredibly painful, not to mention the potential risks of scarring and infection, either of which would probably be far more unsightly than your existing tattoo. I definitely recommend laser tattoo removal over any at-home method. Not only are lasers safer for your skin and your overall health than a homemade saltwater scrub, but they also offer the best chance that you’ll get optimum results.

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Tattoo removal

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it is not ideal to remove a tattoo at home with abrasion. The depth you would need would be deep into the dermis which is not possible. 
In order to remove a tattoo, you must wait 6 weeks from the time it has been placed. We are unable to tell how many passes over the tattoo it takes, it depends on your bodies ability o break to the tattoo and get rid of the ink. Every patient is different. We know that black does better than color, smaller is better than larger, non-smokers do better than smokers, older tattoos do better than newer and tattoos close to the heart does better then on the extremities.
The R20 means that the tattoo can be removed in less visits to the office.

Eric Schweiger, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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Home Remedies for Tattoo Removal

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Using a salt and water mix to abrade the skin is not only an ineffective way to attempt to remove a tattoo, but it's also potentially harmful. You'll be irritating the epidermis (uppermost layer of your skin), causing inflammation and leaving the area prone to infection. You will not reach the dermis (the location where ink is placed in a tattoo) and if you did, you'd be causing much more harm than good. The simplest, MOST effective technique for tattoo removal is a pigment laser such as the Q-Switch Alexandrite. I recommend you find an experienced and knowledgable physician to help you get rid of the tattoo.

 

Best of luck! 

Cameron Rokhsar, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Home tattoo removal

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I believe what you are talking about is salabrasion, which is essentially removing the tattoo with a salt slurry.  This is an abrasive technique that will remove all the layers of the skin down to the layer where the ink is residing.  Basically you end up with a bad road rash in the area, which can have unsightly scars.  I would recommend laser tattoo removal with the latest technology, as the scarring is minimall with this technique.  At our medical spa and laser center, Chic Esthetiq, we use the Revlite SI laser tattoo removal system.  Instead of the the ink particle absorbing the thermal energy, the laser will photoacoustically shatter the ink particles, which can lead to less thermal damage from the laser.

Robert Kratschmer, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Please don't try this at home.

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Tattoos penetrate to the dermis, the deep layer of the skin.  In order to remove this pigment, you must go deep.  Not only would it hurt to do what you are suggesting, but it will also likely leave you with a scar that is worse than the tattoo.  You should consult with a physician who is qualified to remove the tattoo with a laser.  I have added a link below with more information from my website and a video.

Stuart H. Bentkover, MD
Boston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Tattoo Removal at Home with Salt

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Your best option is to see a board-certified dermatologist to examine the tattoo and provide your best treatment options.

Using one of the Q-switched lasers for removal of pigmented lesions and tattoos can remove the tattoo with minimal risk of scarring. Basically, the energy from these particular lasers is more avidly absorbed by the pigment in the tattoo. This energy shatters the pigment, which is carried away by the body's cells. In my opinion removal with one of these specific lasers (e.g. YAg, Alexandrite or Ruby) is the best way to remove a tattoo with minimal scarring.

There are other options including excision of the tattoo, dermabrasion (or salabrasion) of the tattoo, burning off of the tattoo with electrocautery/laser/chemical. These have higher risks of scarring or textural/pigmented changes to the skin.

Do-at-home salabrasion is a bad idea. Risks include scarring, infection, incomplete removal of pigment, foreign-body reaction, etc.

In my opinion your best option is to see that dermatologist with extensive experience with lasers and tattoo removal and discuss your options. Good luck.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

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.