Laser Tattoo Removal

Latest update: April 11, 2024
Medically reviewed by: Jennifer Trent MD, FAAD
How it works

Details

Tattoo removal is performed using laser technology, which targets the ink color and breaks it down without affecting the surrounding skin. The body will then naturally excrete the particles within a few weeks. Most tattoo removal procedures need quite a few sessions, and some can take up to 2 years to complete. Complete removal of a tattoo is never guaranteed. Tattoo removal on deeper skin tones may not be possible as the laser can burn, scar, or cause hyperpigmentation. Other treatments can fade a tattoo, such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, and diathermy. Doctors usually recommend laser technology as it’s the safest and most effective way to remove a tattoo.

A typical tattoo removal procedure will require a local anesthetic. This is usually a cream applied onto the treatment area half an hour before the process. If the treatment area is smaller, practitioners sometimes inject lidocaine to numb the area. Most patients describe the feeling of laser tattoo removal to be similar to getting a tattoo.

A tattoo removal session can take from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the tattoo and the ink used. Before the treatment begins, patients will need to wear protective goggles. Some doctors may recommend a Q-switch laser. This technology can remove tattoos quicker than the traditional treatment. 

Depending on the ink color, different wavelengths may be used to remove the tattoo. In some cases, doctors may combine different lasers for more effective removal. On average, a tattoo will need 4-6 sessions to remove, but this largely depends on the depth of the tattoo, the ink used, the patient's skin color, and the laser used. Tattoo removal can take months to years as a several-week break is needed between sessions. Tattoos that are less than a year old, non-professional tattoos, and tattoos on the arm or leg are harder to remove and may take longer to fade.
Anesthesia
topical
Operation Time
3-6
Inpatient Period
n/a
Number of Appointments
3-6
Recovery Period
3-6 months
Invasiveness
no

Laser Tattoo Removal LIVE SESSION at LaserAway

Chelsea, a registered nurse at LaserAway, performs a laser tattoo removal on her patient, Wes. The tattoo is on his wrist and this is his first session. Chelsea begins by talking to Wes about his tattoo and why he'd like to have it removed. She asks so preparatory questions and explains why the answers are important. While she performs the removal treatment, Chelsea answers questions from people watching the procedure live remotely. Will Wes be satisfied with the results of this procedure?

How Tattoos Removal can be Done with Less Pain, and Fewer Treatment Sessions

Dr. Amiya Prasad talks about the effective removal of tattoos. He explains the measures he takes to make the patient more comfortable and to limit the pain felt during tattoo removal. He discusses the benefits of using a combination of lasers. Dr. Prasad explains what makes up a tattoo and how this makes removal possible. He talks about aftercare.