What is laser tattoo removal?

It is estimated that close to 25% of the U.S. population has a tattoo. Eventually, as many as 50% of individuals with tattoos may want to have their tattoos removed.

There is good news for those who have an unwanted body design. Newer laser tattoo removal methods can remove or lighten your tattoo with few side effects. Lasers remove tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors with a high-intensity light beam. Black tattoo pigment absorbs all laser lights, making it the easiest to treat. Other colors, such as red, can only absorb green laser light. The many other colors used in tattoos can only be treated by specific lasers, which are selected according to pigment color.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/20/2015.

References

  • American Academy of Dermatology, “New and improved laser and light treatments take aim at cellulite, fat, tattoos, wrinkles, and sagging skin.” News release issued Mar. 21, 2014. Accessed 4/20/2015.
  • American Academy of Dermatology, “Lasers lighting the way for enhanced treatment of melasma and tattoo removal.” News release issued Feb. 7, 2012. Accessed 4/20/2015.
  • American Academy of Dermatology Tattoo removal: Lasers outshine other methods Accessed 4/20/2015.
  • Adatto M. Laser Tattoo Removal: Benefits and Caveats. Medical Laser Application 2004; 19(4): 175-185.
  • Bernstein, EF. Laser treatment of tattoos. Clinics in Dermatology 2006; 24(1):43-55.
  • Laumann A. Body art. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI et al, editors. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Medical; 2008:Chap 100.

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