Which Laser is the Best for a Black Tattoo Removal?

I'm 25 years old, I got a black angel tattoo the size of my hand when I was 18. It has great detailing and has light and dark black throughout. I hate it now & I have to use cover ups when I wear dresses. I can't wear skirts to work. I want it gone. This thursday I have an appointment set up with an MD in Raleigh NC. What type of questions should I ask to make sure this guy is legit. Also is there a certain type of laser that works best? I really don't want any scars at all :(

Doctor Answers 6

Removing a Tattoo with Lasers

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Luckily for you, black ink is one of the easiest pigments to remove using lasers. Any pigment laser can be used for tattoo removal, and I prefer the Q-Switch Alexandrite laser. I recommend finding a physician who is experienced and knowledgable in tattoo removal, and one who can offer you effective options for making it comfortable (numbing cream, numbing injections, etc). Over a series of sessions (usually around 5), your ink will slowly fade, leaving you tattoo-free skin. Ask your physician to see some before and after photos, and ask how long he or she has been using the laser for tattoo removal. If something sounds too good to be true or they can't offer any evidence of previous success, I would suggest inquiring further with another physician. Best of luck! 

New York Dermatologic Surgeon

Questions about tattoo laser

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In general black inks respond the best to the tattoo lasers.  You should be looking to have treatment with a Q-switched laser (usually either Nd:YAG or Alexandrite).  Multiple treatments will be necessary to get the best outcome and though it may completely disappear with enough treatments, it is certainly quite possible that the lasers will not be able to remove absolutely all of the ink.  Complications are possible with any treatment (including scarring) but in general your risk should be low, especially  for scarring.  You should ask your doctor about all the possible side effects and their likelihood in his/her practice.

Ideally your treatment will be done or directly supervised by an MD with both training and experience in skin and lasers.

Daniel Berg, MD
Seattle Dermatologic Surgeon

Best Treatment for Black Tattoos

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The best laser for tattoo removal is the PicoSure Laser. It was proven superior in clinical trials on both black and colored tattoos. It goes beyond photothermal action and utilizes a pressure wave technology that more effectively breaks up and removes tattoo ink particles. The ability to remove tattoos completely depends upon the type of ink used, depth and location of placement, as well as the patient’s response to treatment.  We see great response to the PicoSure Laser in my practice and we use it exclusively for tattoo removal.

Laser tattoo removal

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laser tattoo removal can make some tattoos vanish and others look barely noticalbe. It may take 10 more monthly treatments. Although there is a risk fo scarring, this is xtraoridnarily rare. Hyperpigmentation is a risk, though as is hypopigmentation,but this is not common, either.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Black Tattoo respond well to many lasers

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Black ink is the most common, and fortunately the most responsive, of all tattoo pigments.  I prefer the Q-switched Nd:Yag laser (1064nm), but the Q-switched Alexandrite (755nm) or Q-switched Ruby (694nm) are equally effective.

Most important, is to see a Board Certified (see the American Board of Medical Specialties website) Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon with an expertise in laser surgery.  The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery or the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery are also good sites to research those physicians with interest in cosmetic or laser procedures.

With some recently developed protocols, we are seeing tattoos fade much more quickly than before-- but their may be some increased risk of discoloration or mild scar with these more aggresive treatments.

Treatment of black tattoos

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Black tattoos tend to be the easiest of tattoos to treat. Virtually any of the q-switched lasers will work. I would treat the tattoo once a month rotating the treatments between a q-switched ruby, q-switched Alexandrite and q-switc hed 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser. Newer techniques may aloow for complete removal in as few as three treatments. But complete removal varies based on the amount of tattoo pigment as well as its type and depth.

Mitchel P. Goldman, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 25 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.