Tattoo Removal







Tattoo ink is placed beneath the top layer of skin. That makes tattoo removal more complicated — and expensive — than the original tattoo application. If you're no longer satisfied with your tattoo, however, tattoo removal might be possible.

Common procedures for tattoo removal include:

  • Laser surgery

  • Dermabrasion

  • Surgical removal

Why it's done

You might consider tattoo removal if you regret a tattoo or you're unhappy with the appearance of your tattoo. Perhaps the tattoo has faded or blurred, or you decide that the tattoo doesn't fit your current image.


Scarring is likely after most types of tattoo removal. Infection or skin discoloration is possible as well.

How you prepare

If you're considering tattoo removal, consult for options.

What you can expect

Tattoo removal is often done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia.

Laser surgery

Q-switched lasers - which release energy in a single, powerful pulse — are often the treatment of choice for tattoo removal. Before laser treatment, the skin is numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic. Then a powerful pulse of energy is applied to the tattoo to heat and shatter the tattoo ink. Multicolored tattoos might need treatment with various lasers and different wavelengths. After the procedure, you might notice swelling and possibly blistering or bleeding. Antibacterial ointment can help promote healing. You'll likely need repeated sessions to lighten the tattoo, and it might not be possible to completely erase the tattoo.


During dermabrasion, the tattooed area is to numb. Then the tattooed skin is sanded down to deeper levels with a high-speed rotary device. Like laser surgery, dermabrasion might not completely erase the tattoo.

Surgical removal

Surgical tattoo removal under LA, is effective — but it leaves a scar and might be practical only for small tattoos.

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