Fraxel to Remove Colored Tattoo?

i have a tat from years ago that's in 4 colors...on my left bicep...i was reading about lasers like this best laser tattoo removing option?

Doctor Answers 6

Fraxel Does Not Remove Tattoos

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Hi Todd,

Fraxel seems to be able to do so many things, but tattoo removal is not one of them.  There are other lasers that have different wavelengths that are able to target colors.  Contact dermatologists in your area regarding your tattoo removal. 

Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

The Infrared Coagulator (IRC) Treats All Colors of Tattoos

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Unfortunately, while it may be fairly easy to get a tattoo applied, it’s safe to say, it’s much harder to get one removed, and, for that matter, much more expensive. Light-based therapies are the treatment of choice for tattoos and have basically replaced all prior therapies, which included dermabrasion, salabrasion, cryotherapy, chemical peeling. and surgical excision.

Lasers work by emitting short, intense pulses of light that pass through the skin and target the ink. The energy from the laser light fragments the large particles of tattoo pigment enabling the body’s natural immune system to more easily scavenge the pigment and carry it away. This process usually takes several weeks, and multiple treatment sessions are often necessary to achieve maximal clearing. Fraxel lasers are much too mild to do the job.

Since black pigment absorbs all wavelengths of light, it is ironically the easiest pigment to remove. Colors, such as green, do not absorb as well, and sometimes a variety of lasers, with varying wavelengths, are needed to effectively treat a multicolored tattoo.

Potential complications include permanent scarring, temporary or permanent loss of pigment or excessive pigmentation. Fees for laser treatments may range from $1000-$3000 or more, depending upon the number of treatment sessions required, and the size, shape, colors, and location of the particular tattoo.

IRC is my personal favorite. It uses non-laser infrared light to heat the area containing the pigment. It is quick and easy to perform, and generally requires fewer treatments than lasers. Most small tattoos can be treated successfully in one to three sessions.

Very importantly, the IRC’s efficacy does NOT depend upon the particular color of the pigments involved, so, this one device fits all. And it is for these reasons, that it has become my preferred method for dealing with small tattoos. Larger tattoos may be treated in segments.

The procedure is quick and simple. The area is first numbed with local anesthesia. Next, very short pulses of infrared light are directed at the tattoo in a gridlike fashion, leaving tiny spaces between each treated site. Since each burst of energy is just a fraction of second, an entire treatment session requires only a few minutes to complete. It is within the course of the next few weeks, as he wound heals, that the pigment is extruded.

To complete the removal, the intervening spaces are generally treated between two to four weeks later. Fees for a series of three sessions generally run about $1500.

As with laser treatments, potential complications include scarring and temporary or permanent pigmentary changes. Most people, however, are quite gratified and relieved to be free finally of their tattoos.

Fraxel is not for tattoo removal...

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Fraxel is a laser treatment that can improve sun damage, wrinkles and other signs of age.  It is a treatment that helps the appearance of the skin look more youthful.  Even though Fraxel is an excellent laser for skin improvement, it is not used to remove a tattoo.  One effective option for removing a tattoo is the Q-switched Nd:Yag laser.  Be sure to discuss your concerns fully with you doctor before undergoing any procedure.


Fraxel will not work

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Oh, if only it was as easy to remove a tatoo as it is to get them! There would be so many less miserably unhappy people who want that old biyfriend's name off their bum.

Unfortunately, it takes dozens of treatments, often with different lasers for the different colors, to begin to make those tatoos disappear. Some kind of scar or mottling is often the final outcome after thousands of dollars.

Fraxel is better for other applications

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Fraxel is good for scars including acne scars, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation among other things. It's target in the tissues is not the colored inks that make up your tattoo. There are other lasers that do target those colors and may be helpful. Be advised that several treatments will likely be needed and perhaps more than one type of laser as well.

Bruce K. Barach, MD
Schenectady Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Fraxel is not for tattoos

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Hello Todd

Fraxel is a very useful laser but it is not intended for tattoo removal. I would suggest consulting with a Board-certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon who offers tattoo removal. They can explain the process, the number of treatments it will take, the expected results, and which laser will be best for you.

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.