How Much Fading Should I Expect After Three Laser Tattoo Removal Treatments on Ankle? (photo)

I have a multi-colored tattoo on my left outer ankle, approximately 1 inch in area, 15 years old. I have had three laser removal treatments spaced 6-8 weeks apart with a Versapulse VPC laser used each time. I understand that laser tattoo removal is a long process requiring multiple treatments and will likely not remove all of the tattoo, but I see very little difference in color. I am wondering if I should continue on with the current laser, find another method of removal or just live with it.

Doctor Answers 3

What to Expect After Three Treatments of Laser Tattoo Removal

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After three treatments one might expect more clearance than what you are seeing, but you are on the right course and I would stay that course if I were you. The Versapulse is a great machine with great wavelengths that treat most tattoos. Newer Q-Switched laser systems and even newer Picosecond laser systems now exist which may make the treatments go faster – but you are using a machine which is true and tried, so you should be fine.

Make sure a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon is treating you so you are getting the maximum benefits with your treatments.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Multi-colored Tattoos difficult to Treat

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For most tattoos, I tell patients to expect about 6-8 treatment session spaced 2 or more months apart, with a goal of achieving about an 80-90% lightening.  Some tattoos, such as yours, with more complex colors will often get a lesser response.  The more vibrant green, orange/red and yellows in your tattoo tend to be harder to remove.

The Versapulse is a good laser -- essentially 3 tattoo laser in one, and is good for addressing black, purple, red and green colors.  The power output of this laser, though, is a little lower than some of the new lasers, so may not be quite as effective.  Again, the orange/red, yellow and vibrant green are difficult to treat with any laser.

I would expect better clearance, though, of the black, purple, and some of the red out of the red/orange after 3 treatments.  If the fluence (treatment energy dose) was not optimal during treatment, this could be a reason.

Be sure to consult with a Board Certified physician from an accepted field in aesthetic medicine (such as Dermatology or Plastic Surgery) with experience in cosmetic lasers to obtain your best results

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tattoo Removal on Ankle

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I would continue with laser treatment.  Tattoos on the ankle can be slower to respond than other areas.  I have used the Versapulse laser in the past.  The Versapulse has both Nd:YAG and alexandrite lasers available and it is effective for tattoos.  However, it is somewhat older technology and there are newer Q-switched lasers available.   I recently upgraded my Q-switched laser to the Quanta Q Plus C which has both Nd:YAG and Ruby lasers in one package.  Newer lasers allow use of higher energies with larger spot sizes for deeper penetration, and with less potential to damage the skin.  It is important to pick the right laser for each color.  Ruby is the best laser for green.  Alexandrite can also be used for green. 

Richard Ort, MD
Lone Tree Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.