What Does the Process Look Like when Having a Tattoo Removed?

When hsving s tsttoo removed with a laser, is there going to be any burns, redness, mark, etc or will there just be fading of the tattoo without any of this?

Doctor Answers 5

Lasers for tattoo removal

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I have been using lasers to remove tattoos since 1998.  Many tattoos, but not all, do well with laser treatment.  The most important factor is the color of the tattoo.  Black tattoos are the easiest to remove and should respond to Q-switched ruby, alexandrite, or Nd:YAG laser.  Red usually responds to 532 nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser.  Green does not respond to Nd:YAG but is usually treatable with Alexandrite or ruby.  Some colors such as yellow are very difficult to treat.  It is necessary to do multiple treatment sessions, usually from 6 to 10 for a professional tattoo.  Sometimes more than 10 sessions are needed for best results.  The best results are seen in individuals who hate their tattoo so they are motivated to do enough treatment sessions to get the job done.  Excision can be a great option for smaller, narrow tattoos, but this is not usually an option for a large tattoo.  Excision does replace the tattoo with a permanent surgical scar.  Laser treatment usually does not leave a visible scar but the more treatment sessions that are required, the higher the likelihood of having minor scarring from laser treatment.  For a multi-colored tattoo, the key is to go to a laser center where more than one laser is available, since there is no single laser that will treat all tattoo colors. 

The Process of Laser Tattoo Removal

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Usually there is redness and crusting of the skin which results in a scabs that last for about 10-14 days. The laser beam is applied as short bursts of energy. Patients describe this as feeling like a rubber band snapping against the skin, or hot flecks of oil from a frying pan. 

The laser does use light energy. But when it is in your skin, it turns into heat energy which is why this does cause a tangible impact as I described. 

If you are curious to learn more, please watch the video I've included below.


Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Tattoo Treatment Process?

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Thank you for the question.

Laser tattoo treatment involves traumatizing the superficial layers of skin and fragmenting the ink particles into smaller “particles” that can be removed by the bodies'  waste system.

The traumatized skin may blister, bruise  or even bleed ( pinpoint).  The skin will go through a healing process before another laser session can be done.

I hope this helps.

Tattoo Removal Process

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It used to be that if someone wanted to remove a skin tattoo, a surgeon excised it with a scalpel, usually in increments to help the tissue around it expand and cover the wound. Today, we can use laser removal. Laser technology has made great strides in eliminating tattoos. The laser's short pulses of intense light pass harmlessly through the top layers of the skin and are absorbed by the tattoo pigment. This causes the tattoo pigment to fragment into smaller particles that are then removed by the body's immune system. With the array of state-of-the-art lasers, these all help to remove tattoos of all colors, shapes, and sizes, but it will take several treatments. If a tattoo is very deep, there may be some scarring. But the method is far superior to that used in the old days, when we had to remove it surgically.

It depends on the type of laser and technician

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Laser tattoo is extremely difficult. It is not magic. Because lasers are attracted to colors, some tattoos are slightly easier to treat than others, but really, they are all very, very difficult. You should expect to do several treatments - like close to 15-20 - and get minimal results, at best. You will get a blurring of the image and some color will change. Pinks, oranges, reds are nearly impossible and those will blur, but probably not come out entirely. There will be some redness after a laser treatment and some pain, but you should not have burns. That would mean the laser treatment was improperly performed. IMHO the best way to get a tattoo off is to see a good dermatologic surgeon, who can excise it. It will save you time, money, and pain. You will have a scar, minimal, but lasers for tattoos just haven't come far enough for great results, yet.

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.