Is full removal of a mostly black and grey tattoo possible? I'm looking for complete removal using laser. (photo)

Doctor Answers 7

Tattoo removal

I believe that you would have a good result with laser treatment of your tattoo. I would recommend finding a provider that uses the pico technology.

Tattoo removal

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I believe that you would have a good result with laser treatment of your tattoo. I would recommend finding a provider that uses the pico technology.

Yes, this tattoo should be able to be completely removed with the latest technology and best laser techniques.

Black and grey tattoos respond well to laser tattoo removal with the best lasers.  1064nm lasers usually work the best on this type of tattoo and include both the Q-Switched and PicoSecond Lasers (QX-Max, Quanta, Discovery Pico, PicoWay, Enlighten).  These tattoos respond less well to colored laser light (755nm and 694nm).  Fractional ablative lasers (Fotona SP Dynamis fractional erbium) can be combined with picosecond and Q-Swtiched lasers to remove deeper stubborn tattoo ink.  Small, areas of ink that are totally resistant to removal may also be ablated with lasers or excised which could leave some areas of scarring. 

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

Yes, this tattoo should be able to be completely removed with the latest technology and best laser techniques.

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Black and grey tattoos respond well to laser tattoo removal with the best lasers.  1064nm lasers usually work the best on this type of tattoo and include both the Q-Switched and PicoSecond Lasers (QX-Max, Quanta, Discovery Pico, PicoWay, Enlighten).  These tattoos respond less well to colored laser light (755nm and 694nm).  Fractional ablative lasers (Fotona SP Dynamis fractional erbium) can be combined with picosecond and Q-Swtiched lasers to remove deeper stubborn tattoo ink.  Small, areas of ink that are totally resistant to removal may also be ablated with lasers or excised which could leave some areas of scarring. 

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

​Use the Best Technology Available

Thanks for your question.  We get this same question in our office all the time.  You have 2 routes for laser tattoo removal.

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.  Your tattoo is extremely large and so will be the cost of removal.  The cost for picosecond treatments will be higher, but you should need less than half the treatments compared to a nanosecond laser.

​Use the Best Technology Available

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Thanks for your question.  We get this same question in our office all the time.  You have 2 routes for laser tattoo removal.

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.  Your tattoo is extremely large and so will be the cost of removal.  The cost for picosecond treatments will be higher, but you should need less than half the treatments compared to a nanosecond laser.

Black and grey tattoo

I use the PicoSure laser by Cynosure and it is fantastic at removing all tattoos, especially black and grey.  You should have a great result if you use this laser.  Good luck! DSR

Black and grey tattoo

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I use the PicoSure laser by Cynosure and it is fantastic at removing all tattoos, especially black and grey.  You should have a great result if you use this laser.  Good luck! DSR

Laser Tattoo Removal

With newer picosecond laser technology, tattoo removal has become more efficient and effective.  In the past, I would tell patients 12 or more treatments would be required with Q-switched technology.  These days with picosecond lasers, you may need 6 or more treatments to see significant improvement.  In addition, with the new PFD (Perfluorodecalin) patches, multiple passes are now possible during a single treatment session.  I recommend that you see a board-certified dermatologist for a proper evaluation and treatment.

Laser Tattoo Removal

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With newer picosecond laser technology, tattoo removal has become more efficient and effective.  In the past, I would tell patients 12 or more treatments would be required with Q-switched technology.  These days with picosecond lasers, you may need 6 or more treatments to see significant improvement.  In addition, with the new PFD (Perfluorodecalin) patches, multiple passes are now possible during a single treatment session.  I recommend that you see a board-certified dermatologist for a proper evaluation and treatment.

Is full removal of mostly black and grey tattoo possible?

Hello, thank you for your question.  It is impossible to guarantee anyone with any type of device that 100% removal is possible.  The way a laser rids the skin of unwanted ink is, it shatters the ink into tiny particles and your body then absorbs those particles.  Because your body also plays a part in the removal process, it is impossible to guarantee 100% removal.  The latest technology in laser tattoo removal is the 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.  This type of technology can usually remove unwanted ink in about half as many treatments as the traditional Q-switch device.  This is a very large tattoo, for this size tattoo we would recommend lidocaine injections prior to treatment for comfort.  You can click on the weblink below and put in your zip code to see if there is a provider of this laser in your area.

Good Luck!


Is full removal of mostly black and grey tattoo possible?

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Hello, thank you for your question.  It is impossible to guarantee anyone with any type of device that 100% removal is possible.  The way a laser rids the skin of unwanted ink is, it shatters the ink into tiny particles and your body then absorbs those particles.  Because your body also plays a part in the removal process, it is impossible to guarantee 100% removal.  The latest technology in laser tattoo removal is the 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.  This type of technology can usually remove unwanted ink in about half as many treatments as the traditional Q-switch device.  This is a very large tattoo, for this size tattoo we would recommend lidocaine injections prior to treatment for comfort.  You can click on the weblink below and put in your zip code to see if there is a provider of this laser in your area.

Good Luck!


Is Full Removal of Black and Grey Tattoo Possible? PicoWay Will Remove Black and Gray Tattoos

The PicoWay laser uses short, intense pulses of energy to shatter the ink in your tattoo so that it can be absorbed by and eliminated from the body. It takes weeks to months for your body to eliminate the pigment. You will need at least five sessions, possibly more. Black ink is the easiest to remove, but it still is a long-term process. If you commit to it, however, your tattoo should fade completely. A board-certified dermatologist who is expert in tattoo removal will be able to give you a good estimate on the timeline for your tattoo removal.

Is Full Removal of Black and Grey Tattoo Possible? PicoWay Will Remove Black and Gray Tattoos

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The PicoWay laser uses short, intense pulses of energy to shatter the ink in your tattoo so that it can be absorbed by and eliminated from the body. It takes weeks to months for your body to eliminate the pigment. You will need at least five sessions, possibly more. Black ink is the easiest to remove, but it still is a long-term process. If you commit to it, however, your tattoo should fade completely. A board-certified dermatologist who is expert in tattoo removal will be able to give you a good estimate on the timeline for your tattoo removal.

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.