How many treatments will my removal require? Will it scar or even be worth it?

I have a 3 inch by 3 inch NEW tattoo on my inner bicep. It healed very nicely with no visual scarring or complications. It's all black with no shading....It is a lot of thin lines very close together. I'm fair skinned.

Doctor Answers 5

Tattoo Removal

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Pico lasers are the most advanced technology. I utilize the PiQo4 laser which has 4 Pico wavelengths making it possible to remove 96% of ink in as little as 4-6 treatments on average. The amount of treatments can vary based on how quickly your body eliminates the ink. I also utilize the Picosure for a total of 5 Pico wavelengths.  I believe that tattoos are removed faster and safer with Pico lasers and there is less risk of scarring. I also think it is important not only to seek the best technology but an experienced laser tattoo removal provider.

Chicago Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

​Use the Best Technology Available

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Q-Switch or nanosecond lasers came out about 20 years ago.  Picosecond laser came out about 3 years ago.  The majority of former Q-Switch patients we see have significant hypopigmentation (ghosting) around and under their tattoo.  The Q-Switch lasers have trouble differentiating between the melanin in your skin and ink.  The technology uses heat to burn the pigment out of your skin.  In addition, we have seen patients with raised scars as if they have been branded.  Both of these condition are irreversible. 

Picosecond lasers (like the PicoWay & PicoSure) fire 1000 times faster, using a pressure wave rather than heat to shear the ink molecules apart.  After using the PicoSure for almost 2 years, we have only seen pinpoint hypopigmentation in a very small number of patients usually of darker skin tones.  We cannot say it is impossible to get burned with a Picosecond laser, but it is highly unlikely.  We tell every PicoSure tattoo patient to expect at least 6 treatments, but don’t be surprised if it takes 10 to 12.  Patience is the key for our patients.  We typically see our tattoo removal patients every 6 to 8 weeks initially.  If they have more time than money, we encourage them to come every 6 months as the tattoos seem to continue to fade while they wait.

We recommend waiting 6 weeks until your tattoo is healed and then finding an experienced physician in your area.  Treatment prices vary by market.  The cost for picosecond treatments will be higher, but you should need less than half the treatments compared to a nanosecond laser.

Laura Riehm, MD
Fort Worth Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Tattoo removal -How Many treatments required and will it scar?

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Hello, thank you for your question.  Laser tattoo removal is an excellent option. Black ink is the most responsive color to treat and because of it only being thin lines, you should have great success with no scarring. The latest technology in tattoo removal is pico-second technology. The PicoWay Laser (Candela/Syneron) uses photoacoustic impact/pressure waves rather than photothermal/heat.  This process has less heat, therefore it is more comfortable and the chances of hyperpigmentation are less.  The Pico-second pulse shatters the ink into even smaller particles, allowing the body to more easily absorb the ink. The pico second technology can usually remove unwanted ink in about half as many treatments as the traditional Q-switch devices.  Because you have not included a photo, it would be hard to tell you how many treatments, but the scarring with this new technology is really minimalized. Good Luck!

Mark A. Blair, MD
Phoenix Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

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How many treatments will my removal require? Will it scar or even be worth it?

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Good questions.  Anyone that professes to know how many sessions you'll need should be avoided.  That said, based on what you're describing it could be as few as 4-5 sessions at the low end and 12 or more on the high end.  There's just no way to know as tattoo removal is heavily dependent on an individual's immune system to carry away the pigment particles after treatment.  We recommend no tattoo removal during the first 90 days after tattoo placement.  Tattoo removal performed by knowledgeable practitioners should be effective and clear the tattoo without scarring.  The best device in my experience is the enlighten laser, a dual wavelength, nano- and pico- laser made by Cutera.  It is reasonable to expect 30-40% faster (fewer sessions) clearance of tattoos compared to conventional q-switched (nano-) lasers, therefore less costly overall.  Best of luck!

Adam Gropper, MD
Aventura Radiologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Tattoo removal

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Thanks for your question. There is no definite number of treatments to remove a tattoo. There are too many variables such as the type of ink, amount of ink, the placement of the ink and the number of colors. One color,  such as yours,  is quicker to remove than a multicolored tattoo.  Laser tattoo removal is by far the best way to remove a tattoo. The newer picosecond lasers seem to require less treatments than the standard nanosecond lasers. Any tattoo laser will need multiple sessions about 6-8 weeks apart. Typically, I see a significant reduction or near elimination of a tattoo such as yours in 3-9 treatments. Scarring is a possibility but not common. Best of luck with your decision.

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.