laser tattoo removal

Laser tattoo removal is a procedure that uses high-intensity pulses of light to target and fade unwanted tattoos while preserving the surrounding skin.

Laser Tattoo Removal

What Is laser tattoo removal?

Approximately 30% of individuals have at least one tattoo, and up to 25% admit regretting their decision to get it.

For individuals in the 25% category, laser tattoo removal methods can effectively reduce the visibility of unwanted tattoos with few side effects.

Laser tattoo removal is a treatment that aims at reducing the visibility of unwanted tattoos. In this procedure, professionals use lasers that emit high-intensity pulses of light. These pulses target the ink in the tattoo without affecting the surrounding skin. The heat from the light causes the ink in the tattoo to break into small pieces, eventually eliminated by the immune system. Over time, the tattoo fades as the ink is removed.

Exploring the process

Lasers are used to remove tattoos by breaking up pigment colours with a high-intensity light beam. Black tattoo pigment is the most accessible treatment as it absorbs all laser wavelengths, while other colours require specific lasers based on their pigment colour.

Before undergoing tattoo removal, arranging a consultation with an experienced professional for an evaluation is recommended. The number of treatments required will be determined by factors such as the age, size, colours, and depth of the tattoo pigment, as well as your skin colour.

This is a typical experience during a laser tattoo removal session.


  • The doctor or technician will address any questions and ensure your consent before proceeding. Please inform them of any concerns you may have.
  • A picture of your tattoo may be taken to document the "before" and "after" stages.
  • Patients will receive a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes, and their skin will be cleaned and allowed to dry by the doctor or technician.
  • Patients with darker skin may receive treatment involving a cold pack or cooling gel applied by a doctor.
  • The doctor or technician will administer numbing medication or apply numbing cream to the treatment area.
  • A quick test patch may be conducted to determine the appropriate lasers and techniques for optimal results based on your skin's reaction.
  • During the tattoo removal, a doctor or technician will use a laser to pass light pulses through your skin. The ink in your tattoo absorbs this light and starts to break up. The laser may be passed over your tattoo multiple times, with occasional breaks between passes.
  • Patients should inform their doctor or technician if they experience significant pain during the procedure so that adjustments can be made as necessary.


The number of pulses needed to remove a tattoo depends on its size, with smaller tattoos requiring fewer pulses and larger ones needing more. Multiple treatments are necessary to eliminate a tattoo, and the tattoo should gradually fade with each session.

Is laser tattoo removal painful?

Laser tattoo removal procedures can cause discomfort, but methods are available to help manage the pain.

Before laser treatment, medical professionals may apply numbing cream or administer numbing medication to the treatment area. Additionally, they may conduct a small test patch to assess pain levels and ensure the effectiveness of the laser.

Following a treatment session, it is common for the skin to feel sore or swollen. Applying an ice pack can help alleviate any discomfort. Additionally, your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen before or after treatment sessions.

The pain level experienced during tattoo removal depends on factors such as the location of the tattoo and the type of lasers used. Some describe the sensation as similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. Others find it comparable or less painful than getting the tattoo. Communicating significant pain to your doctor during or after a treatment session is essential.


Your doctor will provide instructions on post-treatment care for your skin following each laser tattoo removal session. It is advisable to ask any questions you may have to ensure your skin heals properly and to minimize the risk of scarring.


  • Ice packs should be applied to the area immediately following treatment to reduce pain and swelling and promote skin healing.
  • Antibiotic ointment or cream for a few days can help prevent infection and provide a soothing sensation on the skin.
  • Wearing a bandage or wrap over the wound and changing it regularly to keep the skin dry and prevent infection is recommended. It is essential to keep the area covered until it heals.
  • Applying petroleum jelly or an unscented moisturizer underneath your bandage using a cotton swab or cloth helps keep the area hydrated. It prevents scabs or blisters from sticking to the bandage.
  • To clean the area, use gentle, unscented soap and avoid scrubbing. Pat dry after washing and avoid prolonged soaking in water. Do not use body scrubs or rough washcloths.
  • It is recommended to avoid tight clothing, as it can irritate the area or exacerbate discomfort. Opting for loose clothing can help the skin breathe and promote healing.
  • To maintain the effectiveness of laser treatment, it is essential to avoid direct sunlight. Sun exposure can interfere with the treatment and lead to uneven skin tone. It is recommended to wear sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher and protective clothing to shield the treated area from sunlight. These precautions help prevent any complications and aid in the healing process.
  • Picking or scratching scabs or blisters is not recommended, as this can result in scars. The skin will heal better if left alone. If the area feels itchy or you can't stop picking at it, try putting an ice pack or bandage on it to distract yourself.

Tattoo Removal

Potential side effects

Laser treatment for tattoo removal is considered safer than other methods due to its selective pigment treatment and minimal side effects. However, it is essential to consider certain factors before making a decision.


  • Infection can occur if bacteria enter the treated area before it fully heals. Prevent infection by using antibiotic ointment and keeping the area clean. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience swelling, redness, or pus following a laser treatment session.
  • Tattoos may not be removed entirely with laser treatment. Specific colours, such as blue and black, respond better to treatment than yellow, red, and white. Cosmetic tattoos like lip liner and eyeliner could darken after treatment but may fade.
  • Skin colour changes may occur, with potential outcomes including hypopigmentation (skin appearing paler) or hyperpigmentation (skin appearing darker) in the treated area.
  • Scars can be a lasting result of skin injuries and are more likely to occur if the healing process is disrupted or the skin is exposed to sunlight.
  • Allergic reactions can occur during laser tattoo removal, especially with red ink, so your doctor may provide you with an allergy medication before the procedure.


Can laser tattoo removal cause scarring?

There is a possibility of lasting scars with all tattoo removal methods, with laser tattoo removal having a lower chance of scarring than other methods.

After a laser tattoo removal session, blisters, scabs, flaky skin, and itchiness are expected. It is essential to avoid scratching or picking at the skin to prevent potential scarring.

Applying petroleum jelly or a moisturizer to the affected area, covering it, or using an ice pack can help stop picking.

Properly caring for the area by keeping it clean and protected from the sun during healing can help prevent scarring. Remember to apply sunscreen and cover the treated area when exposed to sunlight.

Individuals with a history of keloids may be at a higher risk of developing a keloid from laser tattoo removal, particularly those with darker skin tones.

Changes in skin colour

It is important to note that laser tattoo removal may result in permanent changes to your skin colour in the treated area.

Laser pulses used to remove tattoo ink can sometimes break up melanin in the skin, causing hypopigmentation, a lighter skin patch. Darker-skinned individuals are more likely to experience hypopigmentation if the laser removes too much melanin. Hypopigmentation scars may be more noticeable on darker skin compared to lighter skin.

Hyperpigmentation is a permanent change in skin colour caused by clumps of ink from a tattoo. Occasionally, ink can react to the laser and become darker instead of breaking up. Certain chemicals make This more common with pink, red, or white ink. Hyperpigmentation is more noticeable on lighter skin but is more likely to occur on darker skin tones.

How many sessions to remove a tattoo?

Individual responses to laser tattoo removal vary, with treatment typically requiring between four to 15 sessions or more. It is advised to wait at least one month between sessions for proper healing and the immune system's clearance of broken-down tattoo ink.