Do Chemical Peels (for Tattoo Removal) Leave a Scar or Cause Hypopigmentation on Darker Skin?

Doctor Answers 2

Tattoo removal not best done by chemical peel, but laser

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tattoos are deeply pigmented granules.  Chemical peels don't penetrate enough to cause separation of  the pigment, but it could cause scarring if it's a deep peel.  laser is more effective and safe. In the olden days, salt was rubbed on the skin and this created a surface wound through which tattoo particles left the skin.  Dermabrasion, which involves a diamond wheel, can be used to burr off the skin at the stretch mark.

Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Chemical peels for tattoo removal

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Because tattoo pigment sits deeper in the skin than the epidermis, chemical peels (which remove the epidermis) are not recommended for tattoo removal.  Deeper peels can leave scars and discoloration of the skin.

Tattoos are best treated with Q-switched lasers (that is, lasers with very short wavelength pulses) for the best results.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

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