I Had my Eyebrows Tattooed About 15 Years Ago And Now They've Grown In. Can The Tattoo Be Removed?

I Had my Eyebrows Tattooed About 15 Years Ago.  My Eyebrows Have Now Grown How Can I Get The tattoo removed?

Doctor Answers 5

Tattoo Removal is Possible on All Body Sites

The popularity of tattoos is on the rise, as is the desire for laser tattoo removal.  Removal has become easier and more efficient with the development of so many laser options.  As one would expect, a particular physician's training and research plays an important role in tattoo removal.  What also plays a very important role is which lasers the physician has available and what settings are used.

Most tattoo pigments can be eliminated using a variety of what are called "Q-switched" lasers.  "Q-switched" is just a technical term that indicates when a laser is designed to deliver high powers and very short pulses.  Commonly used Q-switched lasers for tattoo removal include the Q-switched ruby and Q-switched Nd:Yag lasers.  One type of Q-switched laser offers advantages over others.  Often two different Q-switched lasers are needed for the treatment of different colors in the same tattoo.

There are some tattoo pigments that should not be lasered with a Q-switched laser, such as white and beige, since this type of laser can make these pigments very dark.  Obviously this is undesireable when trying to remove evidence of a tattoo.  In these cases, it is very possible to treat a tattoo using an ablative fractional laser.  Ablative fractional lasers superficially wound the skin while reducing pigment after each treatment.  It's very tolerable if the skin area is numbed and should heal rapidly after treatment.

When tattoos are located on the eyebrow or even the eyelid, it is possible to remove tattoos using combinations of Q-switched lasers and ablative fractional lasers.  It is critical that the eyes be protected.  If the eyelids are being treated, protective shields must be placed under the eyelid to protect the patient's eyes.  It is important to note that white and beige pigments are often used in tattoo makeup.  In these cases, the ablative fractional laser is the best bet.  Lastly, there is some risk of damaging hair follicles.  That is why it is valuable to choose lasers that allow for small areas to be treated (such as the Q-switched Nd:Yag) so that hair follicles can more precisely be avoided.

I have written about the topic of tattoo removal around the eyes in detail in a book titled Smith’s Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, 3rd edition, that is due out early next year.  The good news for the person who posted the question on this webpage is that the tattoo is about 15 years old.  We recently performed a study at our center on tattoo removal that was presented at the 2011 American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Annual Meeting titled: Age of Tattoo is an Indicator for the Rate of Success of Laser-Assisted Tattoo Removal.  We showed that older tattoos (i.e. tattoos older than 10 years) were eliminated at a more rapid rate than fresh tattoos (i.e. tattoos newer than 5 years).

Good luck in your pursuit of tattoo removal.  Please look into all of your options and I strongly recommend that you have an experienced physician treat you when pursuing tattoo removal.


Robert Anolik, MD, FAAD - New York Dermatologic Surgeon

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tattoo Removal

Yes, the tattoo can be removed using laser technology to break up the pigment. Every procedure has its potential risks and complications. However conducting a test on a small area can help avoid unwanted consequences. 

Your description sounds a lot like the patient in this video who had her brows tattooed However, she opted for eyebrow hair restoration right above the tattoos, so they are far less visible. However, in the event that the test does not produce desired results this is another possibility simply for you to consider. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Eyebrow Tattoo Removal

Thank you for the question.

Laser tattoo treatment is the only predictable/effective treatment modality for permanent eyebrow tattoo removal. I generally recommend a small trial area to be treated with laser to make sure the laser and ink do not react ( oxidize) and result in a darker color.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Laser for eyebrow tattoo

Laser treatment of eyebrow tattoos can be very difficult.  The pigment can contain iron oxide which undergoes immediate pigment darkening upon treatment with a laser.  In other words, the eyebrow tattoo can turn black after laser treatment.  Another issue is that the laser treatment could injure the eyebrow hairs that are growing in the area, although these would probably grow back over time.  The third issue is that the laser operator needs to be very careful with using tattoo lasers around the eyes to avoid any eye injury.

Richard Ort, MD
Lone Tree Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Tattoo removal after regrowth

Sure. Be careful, however, when having them treated. The inks used in permanent pigmentation procedures differ from standard tattoo inks in important ways. Iron oxides are used for these inks and may discolor when treated with tattoo removal lasers. A test spot is indicated before you have full treatment.

Barry Resnik, MD
Miami Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 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.