Suggestions on tattoo removal? What laser to use? (photo)

My tattoo is about 2.5 years old all dark black ink. I had it professionally done and then gone over again a few months after I got it because the ink wasn't consistent in some spots. I'm not very familiar with tattoo removal but I'm ready to get mine off. What's the best laser with few treatments? How many treatments should I expect? Will there be bad scarring? Approx cost? The writing of my tattoo is about 6 inches long and 1/2inch and less tall.

Doctor Answers 8

Laser tattoo removal

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Black ink and location of your tattoo make it a good candidate for successful removal. You need a 1064 wavelength for this and I believe that Piqo4 as well as Prima Pico and PicoWay would work well. With Pico lasers, you would need fewer treatments to have your tattoo completely removed. When it comes to Q-switch lasers, they work well too but you may require more treatments. Pico lasers are more expensive than q-switch lasers per treatment, but they require fewer number of treatments, so the price would come down to the same amount. It is hard to give you an estimate for the price of your tattoo, it all depends on the location and experience of the provider as well as their equipment. Good luck

Summit Emergency Medicine Physician

Use the PFD patch

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While either a nano second or pico second 1064 wavelength laser would be the optimal wavelength to remove this dark-colored tattoo, there's been a recent advance in tattoo removal by using something called the Describe Patch. This patch, made of silicone, transparent to this wavelength of laser, is placed over the tattoo with a liquid painted onto the tattoo called PFD. This liquid will absorb some of the gases that the laser causes in the skin which make it difficult to treat the tattoo more than once. This has allowed multiple treatments all in the same day. We have found that more treatments rather than shorter on times (nano vs. pico) is much more predictive of how many treatment appointments are necessary to clear your tattoo.

Marc J. Salzman, MD, FACS
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Black ink tattoo - Needs a 1064 laser!

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No question you need a 1064 laser for black ink. The best lasers will have both nano and pico second 1064. Picosure is 755 and not ideal for this tattoo. There are a few combo 1064 nano and pico. After doing my research, the Piqo4 has the most power of all these lasers and therefore would clear the tattoo the quickest, all other variables being equal. Clearing the tattoo is also dependent on the proper usage of the laser. 

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

A picosecond 1064nm laser like the Prima Pico will work the best on this tattoo.

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I have found the 1064nm picosecond laser Prima Pico to work very well o this type of tattoo.  The PicoWay,  and Enlighten lasers should also work well.  Q-Switch lasers like the Fotona QX Max, Revlite, etc. are also very good laser.

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

Laser Tattoo Removal Facts--Takes a series of treatments

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I recommend getting a formal evaluation with a laser tattoo removal expert. This will take a series of treatments and cost will vary. Each Dr. has their preferred laser for treatment. I use the Medio Star/Tattoo Star Combo. See an expert for best results. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

Suggestions for laser tattoo removal, what laser?

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Hello, thank you for your question and for including photos. Laser tattoo removal can be very successful, but since your body play a part in the removal process, it can not be guaranteed complete removal. The latest technology in laser tattoo removal is Pico-second technology. The PicoWay Laser (Candela/Syneron) uses photoacoustic impact/pressure waves rather than photothermal/heat.  This process has less heat, therefore it is more comfortable and the chances of hyperpigmentation are less.  The Pico-second pulse shatters the ink into even smaller particles, allowing the body to more easily absorb the ink. The newer technology can usually remove ink in about half as many treatments as the traditional Q-switch devices.  You can go to the website and "locate a provider" to find someone in your area with this technology.  Pricing will vary by market. I would take a guess and say that with the PicoWay laser that this will take approx. 6-8 treatments to resolve. Scarring is less of an issue with this device as it is not as hot. After care is equally important to help avoid scarring.

Good Luck!

Mark A. Blair, MD
Phoenix Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

​Use the Best Technology Available

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Thanks for your question.  We get this same question in our office at least once a day.  You have 2 routes for laser tattoo removal.

Q-Switch or nanosecond lasers came out about 20 years ago.  Picosecond laser came out about 3 years ago.  The majority of former Q-Switch patients we see have significant hypopigmentation (ghosting) around and under their tattoo.  The Q-Switch lasers have trouble differentiating between the melanin in your skin and ink.  The technology uses heat to burn the pigment out of your skin.  In addition, we have seen patients with raised scars as if they have been branded.  Both of these condition are irreversible. 

Picosecond lasers (like the Enlighten, PicoWay & PicoSure) fire 1000 times faster, using a pressure wave rather than heat to shear the ink molecules apart.  After using the PicoSure for almost 2 years, we have only seen pinpoint hypopigmentation in a very small number of patients usually of darker skin tones.  We cannot say it is impossible to get burned with a Picosecond laser, but it is highly unlikely.  We tell every PicoSure tattoo patient to expect at least 6 treatments, but don’t be surprised if it takes 10 to 12.  Patience is the key for our patients.  We typically see our tattoo removal patients every 8 to 12 weeks initially.  If they have more time than money, we encourage them to come every 6 months as the tattoos seem to continue to fade while they wait.

Treatment prices vary by market.  The cost for picosecond treatments will be higher, but you should need less than half the treatments compared to a nanosecond laser.

Laura Riehm, MD
Fort Worth Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Type of laser for your tattoo removal

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1064nm laser is usually best for dark ink.  For removal with the fewest number of treatments, I would recommend that you look for someone who uses the Enlighten laser.  The reason for that recommendation is that Enlighten has 1064nm in both nanosecond and picosecond pulse durations.  

This probably sounds complicated if you aren't familiar with the terms!  But what it means is that for an all dark tattoo, like yours, that type of laser has the capability to use the best settings to treat your tattoo throughout the process.  As the ink begins to fade, the picosecond capability will be important in obtaining your end result in fewer treatments than with many other lasers.  You should still be prepared that with any laser, it will take multiple treatments, especially with "double ink."  It is impossible to predict exactly how many treatments will be needed, but I would estimate between 5-10. Remember, that is just an estimate. Cost will vary from center to center.  I think a fair rough estimate of range would be $250-$500 per treatment, depending on where you live and the type of laser used.  Many places will offer packages that help reduce the total cost.  I hope this helps.

Jeffrey Gosin, MD, FACS
Atlantic City Vascular Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 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.