Tattoo Removal – Laser Treatment Is Still The Best Option

tattoo removal 
We’ve all done things in our past that we may now regret.  The passage of time is all we usually need to forget and move on, but when it comes to tattoos that no longer represent who we are, the solution gets a little trickier – and more expensive.

Tattoo removal options have been around since permanent body inking first began.  From rubbing the skin with salt blocks to simply covering up a tattoo with a new one, people have tried just about everything.  Surprisingly, even the older methods of removal are still used by some today.  But the plastic surgery, dermatology and cosmetic procedure industries widely agree that the safest and most effective option for tattoo removal is laser treatment.

Laser Tattoo Removal

A laser removes a tattoo by zapping the skin with strong, short pulses of energy.  The light from the laser targets the pigment of the ink and breaks it up into smaller granules that are eventually reabsorbed by the body.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, there are some hurdles to overcome.  They include:

Colored Ink – Because black ink fully absorbs the laser energy, it is the easiest color to remove.  It seems counterintuitive, but the lighter the ink color, the more difficult the removal.  Pinks, yellows and greens are especially difficult.

Type of Laser – Most doctors recommend a Q-Switched ND: Yag laser for the best results.  The wavelengths are optimal for targeting ink at deeper levels of the dermis and scarring is rare.

Non-Level Tattoo – If you utilized a professional, then your tattoo was likely applied by a machine that delivered the ink dye into the skin at a consistent depth.  If the tattoo was done by hand, the ink may not be at the same level making laser tattoo removal very difficult.

Dark Skin – If you have darker skin, the light from the laser will be attracted to your healthy tissue as well.  This can cause problems in the form of burns, scabs, scars and hypopigmentation.  African American skin is more likely to show an outline of the former tattoo after treatment due to skin fading.  It is important to choose a provider who has the right type of laser and lots of experience treating ethnic skin.

Pain – Laser treatments aren’t excruciating, but they are no cake walk either.  Most patients describe the energy pulses as feeling like a hot rubberband snap or a splatter of hot grease.  The good news is that each pulse only takes a fraction of a second and most treatments are finished within a few minutes.  Topical numbing creams may help with patient comfort.

Cost – Laser tattoo removal is not cheap.  You will need a series of treatments depending on the size, placement and color of your tattoo; usually between 3-10 treatments.  Each treatment can cost between $350-$650.

Other Tattoo Removal Options

Even with all the drawbacks, laser treatments remain the gold standard for tattoo removal.  But there are other options.  Here are a few:

Excision – If the tattoo is small enough, it can be surgically removed by a doctor who will then close the wound with sutures and a possible skin graft if the area is large or the skin is too tight (on an ankle for example).  A scar will remain, but sometimes the trade off is worth it for a one-step, simple procedure.

Dermabrasion – This method involves using abrasive friction to literally rub the tattoo off of the skin.  This, too, requires several treatments as new skin grows back to replace what has been removed.  Dermabrasion is likely to remove all remnants of the tattoo, but new the skin often has a different texture and color.

Topical Creams – There are several topical creams and ointments that advertise their ability to easily and painlessly remove tattoos.  However, most doctors agree that at best these products may slightly fade tattoos and at worst contain harmful ingredients.

Today, there are several effective methods for tattoo removal.  However, lasers will likely deliver the best results for leaving your past in the past.

Tattoo Removal

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About Victoria Strander

Writes about the latest beauty procedures. Her articles are available for syndication. Use Contact Page for inquiries.


  1. My friend bought a product that she swears works (I can’t see her tattoo anymore). Here’s the link for anyone who is interested:

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