Tattoo Removal for African American Skin

How effective is Tattoo removal for darkly pigmented African American people?

Doctor Answers 4

Q-Switched Lasers Work Well to Remove Tattoos from Dark Skin

Laser tattoo removal can be performed on any skin color — even African-American skin. If someone says it cannot, I would find another physician who is skilled in lasers — tattoos on darker-skinned individuals do not need to be cut out. We have great devices for these such as the Q-Switched lasers, so find a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon that uses lasers; have a consult and get rid of that tattoo if you want.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal is not recommended for African-American skin. Please consult a board certified plastic surgeon for further treatment options.

Tim Sayed, MD, MBA, FACS
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Tattoo Removal for African Americans

Hello Penzi,

We provide effective and successful tattoo removal for all skin types including African Americans. But for your skin type, there are complicating factors.

The first factor involves the color of the tattoo and if there are any colors beside blue or black. If you are a light skinned African American and have red, green or some other color beside blue and black, your tattoo removal becomes more risky. This is because tattoo removal of colors except for blue and black requires a particular type of laser that may cause your skin to lighten in the area of the tattoo. This is because to remove these lighter colors, the type of laser used will also target the pigment in the skin. This may cause permanent lightening in the area of the tattoo and may be reason enough to think twice before having the procedure done.

For African American skin, there is always a possibility of permanently lightening the skin because of the treatment in the area of the tattoo removal. This is much less likely when the tattoo being removed is only blue or black, but it can still happen even with these colors.

Hope this helps.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tattoo Removal for Darker Skin Types

There are different types of lasers that can be used for tattoo removal, depending on the colors of the tattoo and the skin color of the patient you are treating.  For patients with darker skin types, a specific laser is used (usually a 1064nm QS Nd:YAG), in order to avoid causing permanent discoloration of the underlying skin.  It is important to visit a doctor who is experienced in tattoo removal for patients with darker skin types, and a doctor who has numerous lasers available for the best tattoo removal in each individual patients. 

Eric Schweiger, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 13 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.