Laser Tattoo Removal Aftermath, I Thought There Would Be More Blistering and Scabbing, Normal?

I just had my first laser tattoo removal session 2 days ago and I'm not experiencing any of the blistering and scabbing I was warned about. There is some minor inflammation but other than that, the treated area looks/feels fine. I also don't see much of a difference with the tattoo (I realize it will take 6+ sessions but I was expecting better results after the first session). Does it take a few days/weeks for the body to absorb the ink or should I assume the treatment wasn't very effective?

Doctor Answers 4

Don't Be Concerned

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You should not be concerned at this point in time after having a laser tattoo removal procedure.Depending upon the colors of the tattoo and the energies of the laser used, some may have intense redness, blisters andscabbing, and others have virtually none of those. It takes time to see results and multiple treatments – so do not give up hope and continue on with your planned laser tattoo removal sessions.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

No skin reaction after laser tattoo removal treatment

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It is not necessary to get an obvious "healing reaction" after laser tattoo removal treatments. As explained in my book Understanding Cosmetic Laser Surgery, specialized Q-switched lasers have a specific effect on the tattoo ink particles (breaking them up) and when used properly do not cause damage to the surrounding skin. This type of non-surgical treatment is very different from traditional surgery such as dermabrasion, in which the skin containing the tattoo is sanded off. After dermabrasion there is a prolonged healing process that will result in a scar. Q-switched laser treatments are capable of removing the tattoo ink while causing no damage to the skin.

Robert C. Langdon, MD
Guilford Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Laser tattoo removal does not need to scab and look bad to be effective.

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Laser tattoo removal does not need to scab and look bad to be effective.  The degree of inflammation, crusting and scabbing depends on the color and density of the tattoo pigment and the laser energy used to treat the tattoo.  You will be able to tell how effective the treatment is after one month.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Laser Tattoo Removal Does Not Always Result in Blistering and Scabbing

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Laser tattoo removal does not necessarily result in blistering and scabbing.  If the design is fairly small and there is a minimal amount of ink involved, the pigment will readily absorbs the laser energy (e.g. black ink), and break up into smaller particles.

Also it is not uncommon for the results after the first treatment to appear negligible. It will probably take several sessions before you start to see noticeable changes.

To answer your last question, it takes about 4-6 weeks for the body to absorb the ink in between treatments. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 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.