Is excision a viable option for my tattoo?

I have got a 2x2cm tattoo on my inner bicep. The plastic surgeon I got in contact with strongly suggested to remove the tattoo in two sessions, which means I have got to pay twice the price. I find that to be terribly expensive for my small tatoo and would like to know some input by other doctors. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 7

Pros And Cons Of Direct Excision Of A Tattoo Of The Medial Bicep

Unfortunately, you do not include a picture of the tattoo in question with your post. This would be quite helpful in formulating a specific answer to your inquiry, particularly in determining the colors that were used in the tattoo, and whether it was a professional or amateur who performed your tattooing. The answer to both of these questions could influence your treatment, and the ultimate outcome of that treatment. 

However, your question does seem to imply that you believe that a 2x2 cm area on your inner bicep is very small. You are wrong.  

If your tattoo were to be excised, it would be removed in an elliptical fashion, which means the length of the resulting scar would probably be somewhere between 3 and 4cm in length.  However, the horizontal width is the real issue here.  Even if you are not an athlete or fitness buff, you probably flex and extend your arm hundreds of times each day.  The location of that tattoo virtually guarantees that you will have a widened scar from direct excision of it, and that the resulting scar will be in a highly visible location that will be difficult to hide.  

The plastic surgeon with whom you had the consultation was proposing to perform a serial excision, to allow the skin to relax after a portion of the tattoo was removed, before you returned to have the rest of the tattoo excised. However, even with two sessions of serial excision, you will still have a widened scar in the center of  the skin of your medial bicep. 

Your best option, depending on the colors of the dye used for your tattoo, is undoubtedly to have laser removal of your tattoo.  This will undoubtedly take more than two sessions, and ultimately may not remove the tattoo completely, but it may be enough improvement to satisfy your aesthetic concerns. 

 And if it's not, well then you will still have the option of excising whatever remnants of the tattoo are still present. But at least this will probably be a smaller area than what you have now, so the quality of the resulting scar will still be better than going directly to complete excision out of the gate.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Laser tattoo removal

Don't opt for surgical excision as this will leave a scar. Lasers are the best way to remove tattoos - tattoo ink is meant to be permanent so don't expect it to be gone in 2 sessions.  Dr Khan

T.G. Khan, DO, FACS
Fort Lee Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Is excision a viable option for my tattoo?

Hello, thank you for your question. We would recommend laser tattoo removal as opposed to excision.  You do not mention why you have not considered laser removal.  You should include a photo of the tattoo for further evaluation, but with excision you run the possibility of scarring.  Depending on the amount of ink and the colors involved in the tattoo, this will help to determine how many treatments may be necessary.

Good Luck!

Mark A. Blair, MD
Phoenix Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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Excision tattoo

Excising a tattoo would likely leave you with a significant scar. If the tattoo can be removed in 2 sessions, you are very fortunate as most tattoos take 6-15 treatments depending on color.

Excision vs Laser for tattoo

You will have a scar for sure with excision. Using laser will take several months but results will be better. If too much tension is used to close an excision, the scar widens and that must be the reason for the 2 sessions. 

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
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New technology available

Hi Magentag and thanks for your question.  New technology does allow for faster removal if using a Pico laser and a PFD patch.  If there is color, it may take more sessions.  An excision would involve surgery and will leave a scar.  Best of luck!

The Price To Pay

Tattoo removal does take a series of treatments, but it will give you a better looking result than outright excision. See an expert in laser tattoo removal. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
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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.