Carolina Dermatology
of Greenville
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Laser Tattoo Removal

Do you have a tattoo that you wish would disappear? Your best chance for removal is with laser treatments. Tattoos are created by placing ink deep into the skin below the level where new skin cells are generated. This deep placement of ink makes the tattoo permanent. Your body detects the ink as something foreign and tries to remove it; however, the ink particles are too large for your immune cells to carry them away. Over decades, these immune cells can chip away at the tattoo giving it a blurry appearance. Laser tattoo removal helps your immune system remove the tattoo by breaking the ink particles into smaller pieces that can more easily be carried away.

Some tattoos are easier to remove than others. Amateur, or homemade tattoos, are usually easier to remove than professional tattoos. Professional tattoos have more ink delivered into the skin, so it takes more treatments to remove them. Larger tattoos and multicolored tattoos also require more treatments to remove. Black and dark blue pigments respond the best to the laser light and are more easily removed. All colors are generally improved with laser treatments, but some pigments, such as green and yellow, are more resistant to laser therapy. Older tattoos are easier to remove than new ones. Laser removal also works great for incidental tattoos such as pencil injuries that leave graphite under the skin.

Laser tattoo removal can be uncomfortable, but often just applying a cold pack prior to the treatment is all that is needed to make it tolerable. Others options for numbing include topical anesthetic creams and injected local anesthetics. We use a Q-switched Nd-Yag laser for removal of tattoos. This laser is one of the best and most commonly used for tattoos. Treatments are typically scheduled every 2 months to give your skin’s immune cells time to remove the pigment after each treatment. An amateur tattoo may only take 3 sessions to remove; however, professional tattoos can take 6-8 treatments or more. Even after multiple treatments there may be faint residual tattoo pigment, however, it is typically much less noticeable than the original tattoo.

Other methods of tattoo removal include surgical excision, dermabrasion (sanding), and chemical treatments; however, these methods often cause considerable scarring at the site of the tattoo. Laser tattoo removal generally yields the best cosmetic outcome for tattoo removal.

If you are interested in laser tattoo removal, please call our office to schedule a consultation.