Is Laser Tattoo Removal with Q Switch Lasers Safe? Where Does the Ink Go?

I've had 4 laser sessions, and since after the 2nd session I have had recurring issues with an axillary lymph node that keeps swelling up. Is laser tattoo removal safe for the lymphatic system and other organ systems?

Doctor Answers 1

What you experienced happens rarely with tattoo removal

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This is a fantastic question and gets to the heart of the mechanisms by which laser tattoo removal works. Laser tattoo removal is safe but with any procedure there are certain risks and side effects that happen in a small subset of patients. This is why it is important to see a board certified physician, such as a dermatologist, who has expertise in using lasers. 

The symptoms you describe happen rarely in a handful of patients. There was actually a scientific report of two patients by Drs. Izikson, Avram and Anderson of Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School documenting symptoms similar to yours. We don't know the exact mechanisms by which tattoo removal occurs but it is likely that some of the ink particles go to the lymph nodes and in some people this can cause a reaction.

It would be best to see a laser dermatologist to have them evaluate your situation individually. 


I pasted the reference to the article below.


Lasers Surg Med. 2008 Apr;40(4):231-2.
Transient immunoreactivity after laser tattoo removal: report of two cases.
Izikson L, Avram M, Anderson RR.

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.