I am an African American woman wanting laser tattoo removal. From what I have read it seems questionable as to whether or not the procedure will work on my complexion. It is a fair new tattoo & I do not develop keloids or scars easily. Can anyone tell me whether or not laser removal is possible, how many sessions would i need and the expense?
Laser Tattoo Removal On African American Skin, Is this Possible? (photo)
Doctor Answers 2
Laser Tattoo Removal for African American
Thanks for your question and especially for including photographs. Fortunately, your skin is light brown so that makes the laser be able to "shine" into your skin better to "find" the ink which is buried down in the dermis, the second layer of the skin.
Because you have black ink and are African American, a 1064 laser would work best. This wavelength gets the tattoo ink with very little getting filtered by your natural pigment.
Although some professional tattoos can be removed in 6-8 treatments, 12 or more is more likely. The treatments need to be spaced out so you many need a year or more to be done.
By being careful and using the 1064 laser, the risk of a bad scar or keloid scar is low. Pricing varies but can be a couple hundred dollars per treatment.
Because of the expense of laser removal and the fact that people are often willing be be guinea pigs for "new" treatments, there are many that are buying tattoo removal creams that are widely advertised on the internet. Do they work? Not that I can tell. I see and talk to tattoo patients every day and have yet to see anyone who has been pleased with a tattoo removal cream.
Laser Tattoo Removal on African American Skin
The reason why laser tattoo removal is considered to be a risk for darker skin is because of the high levels of melanin. In order to remove the tattoo ink, the laser needs to be absorbed by the colored ink pigment. However the melanin in your skin is likely to absorb the laser light as well which can cause overheating and scarring.
The Spectra laser for tattoo removal uses the 1064nm wavelength. All laser systems use one wavelength to accomplish specific objectives. What is special about 1064 is that it is relatively resistant to melanin absorption in the surrounding areas of tissue. Therefore it is relatively safe for ethnic skin. In very dark skinned individuals there may be an advantage in first bleaching the area with a cream to reduce the side effect quotient as well as improve laser efficacy.
Also since your tattoo is black and on the upper part of your body, it should be fairly easy to remove. However using laser on darker skin is a more conservative process, which can take a longer period of time before it is successfully removed
Also since your tattoo is black and on the upper part of your body, it should be fairly easy to remove. However using laser on darker skin is a more conservative process, which can take a longer period of time before it is successfully removed.