How Soon After a "New" Tattoo Can You Start Laser Removal?

If a tattoo is fresh (only a few months old), is laser even an option, or would 15-20 sessions still not remove something so fresh/dark (it's only black, 2 inces wide x 6 inches long)? I'm fairly pale, and my skin really absorbed the ink. Also, is excision not an option on an "active" area like the shoulder blade? Even w/grafting? I know the scar would be major, but I desperately want the tattoo gone.

Doctor Answers 15

Tattoo Removal

In order to remove a tattoo, you must wait 6 weeks from the time it has been placed. We are unable to tell how many passes over the tattoo it takes, it depends on your bodies ability o break to the tattoo and get rid of the ink. Every patient is different. We know that black does better than color, smaller is better than larger, non-smokers do better than smokers, older tattoos do better than newer and tattoos close to the heart does better then on the extremities.
The R20 means that the tattoo can be removed in less visits to the office.

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Six weeks at a BARE minimum but the longer the better....

The adult human skin cycle dictates when a laser procedure can start. If you start too soo after tattoo placement you run the risk of increased adverse events including prolonged ink retention and scarring. A minimum of six weeks is necessary but we usally err on the side of caution and have patients wait seven , eight or more... Best of luck, Dr. Kirby

William Kirby, DO, FAOCD
Manhattan Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Wait 6 weeks to Treat a

First, we recommend waiting six weeks before removing a new tattoo with a laser.  Laser is the first line treatment for tattoos, as the chance of scarring is remote.  With an excision of the upper back and shoulder regions, there is significant risk of a thickened scar or keloid, in your case, possibly six inches in length.

With older, nano-technology lasers, these type of tattoos could take up to 15-20 sessions, but with our new Picosure pico-second laser, we are seeing resolution of these types of tattoos in half the treatment sessions, roughly 4-6 treatments.  


Edward Rohaly, MD
Newport Beach Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Laser tattoo removal for a new tattoo, when can you start? Richmond VA

Dear Regretful

You are not alone. It is estimated that 25% of people who get a tattoo regret it immediately. 

Older technology of Q Switch lasers would dictate a long waiting period before starting laser tattoo removal. Smart Laser uses the newest Picosecond technology and has a significantly lower risk of side-effects than Q Switch. I have used Smart Laser on tattoos that were a week old without problems. As long as your skin is intact over the tattoo, Smart Laser is safe. 

I recommend finding a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist with the newest picosecond lasers to help you. Sure you can find spas, tattoo parlors and Family doctors who have lasers, but, this is your skin we are talking about. Have it treated by a professional. 

I hope this is helpful

Dr S

Travis L. Shaw, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

How soon can a tattoo be lasered?

Typically a tattoo shouldn't be lasered until the skin is completely healed from the tattooing.  Generally this takes at least 6 weeks.

Anh-Tuan Truong, MD, FACS
Chicago General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Laser Removal On A New Tattoo

I recommend waiting six weeks after getting a new tattoo to have it laser removed. This is because you need time for the skin to heal after getting a new tattoo. If the skin is not healed you may have complications like scarring. The colors you have described are difficult to remove. Black ink is the easiest color to remove.

Hardik Soni, MD
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Tattoo Removal Doesn't Have to Start 6 Weeks after Placement, But Risk Increases

Most physicians will tell you that you need to wait a period of time before beginning laser tattoo removal – up to six weeks or more. I have been using q-switched lasers for a long time and I have on many occasions began treatment much sooner than this — even within a week in some cases of buyer's remorse. Yes, there is increased risks associated with this but as board-certified dermatologists, we are very adept at handling most pigment concerns and scarring risks, so we explain this with the patient and work with them during the treatment sessions to minimize these for them.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Laser tattoo removal for eyeliner tattoo

A tattoo can be removed immediately after it was placed. Based on the description you provided, it may require a few more sessions to get rid of the tattoo. Usually black ink tattoos take up to 5-10 sessions. In some cases more. You should consult a laser surgeon to choose an appropriate laser & setting for the tattoo removal therapy.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Tattoo removal with laser and surgery

Tattoo removal is performed by laser and surgery. Tattoo works by selectively targeting pigment in the tattoo. Once the laser is used, macrophages in the skin remove tattoo particles.

Surgery is reserved for tattoos that are resistant to laser tattoo removal. Surgery is not indicated for areas that are dynamic, like the joints, shoulders, mid back, and chest.

Since the laser targets the tattoo pigment, it can be performed early after laser hair removal, as long the epidermis is intact.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

How Soon is Too Soon for Laser Tattoo Removal?

Due to the healing process after receiving a tattoo, it is best to wait 6-8 weeks to begin tattoo removal treatments.

David L. Robbins, MD, FACS
West Des Moines Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 35 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.