Tattoo Removal Overview

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At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, our skin care specialists offer expert and cutting-edge technology for laser tattoo removal. This is a safe and effective way to get rid of unwanted skin art. Since we have multiple lasers for tattoo removal, we can effectively remove or fade ink of almost every color from black to red to green to blue. The type of laser used depends on the color of the ink.

Our doctors are able to remove your ink with techniques that are tailored to suit your individual case. Overall, laser removal is the least invasive and most effective method, and with the addition of PicoWay, even bright colors such as orange can be treated.

Length Laser Tattoo Removal:

Generally about 5-10 sessions are required depending on the size and color of the tattoo.

Anesthesia Used During the Procedure:

Numbing cream or local anesthesia is available.

Inpatient or Outpatient Based Procedure:

Laser Tattoo Removal is performed on an outpatient basis.

Side Effects of Laser Tattoo Removal:

Laser tattoo side effects are generally very minimal but may include hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation

Recovery After Treatment:

Minimal aftercare is required, and you are able to return to your daily life immediately after treatment. It is recommended that patients keep the treated areas out of the sun and wear a good sunscreen

Cost of Laser Tattoo Removal:

Prices vary from patient to patient depending on size of the tattoo and number of sessions required.

Types of Lasers for Tattoo Removal

Before and after back image of PicoWay laser tattoo removal on a female's back performed by Dr. Groff at our San Diego medical clinicCosmetic Laser Dermatology is pleased to house a variety of lasers for any type of tattoo. These cutting-edge systems are the most advanced available, producing amazing results in fewer treatments!

We are also one of the 1st offices in the country to use fractional CO2 to remove tattoos:

How Does It Work?

During a tattoo removal procedure, a laser emits a pulse of energy that passes through the top layers of the skin and is selectively absorbed by the ink. This energy causes the ink pigment to break down into smaller particles and is then absorbed by the body. Thus, body art is safely and effectively removed without damage to the surrounding skin.

Multiple treatments, generally 5-10 sessions, are required for complete elimination.  The amount of treatments needed depends on the size, the color, what type of ink was used, the location, and your skin color. Laser treatments are spaced out every 4-6 weeks for maximum results.

Free Radiation Tattoo Removal

If you have undergone radiation therapy for cancer, Cosmetic Laser Dermatology will be happy to remove your radiation tattoos free of charge. Many people find that the removal of those small dots helps them to close a chapter in their life and look forward without the constant reminder on their skin. If you have tattoos from radiation therapy that you would like removed, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

What to Expect

Tattoo removal is performed in our office. Most patients find the treatment to be quite tolerable. We can apply topical numbing ointment or local anesthesia for patients concerned about their comfort level. Eye shields are also used to protect your eyes from the laser light.

Read our pre/post treatment guidelines for tattoo removal.

The time for your treatment will vary based on the size of the tattoo. You will feel a brief sensation of heat (similar to grease “splattering” or a rubber band snapping against your skin). We will apply cold air to the skin’s surface as the tattoo is treated to maintain a comfortable temperature on your skin.

Post-Treatment Guidelines

  • You will have a sensation of heat/intense sunburn which will subside throughout the day. It is okay to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • You may notice a “white frosting” appearance over the treated area. This will subside shortly after treatment.
  • It is possible to develop pinpoint bleeding, redness, and mild swelling.
  • An ointment and bandage will be placed over your tattoo after the procedure to protect the surface of the skin.
  • If needed, apply ice packs (20 min. on and 20 min. off) the day of the procedure. This will help reduce the sensation of heat and help minimize swelling.
  • Swelling typically peaks at 48-72 hours. If the laser treatment is being performed on your face, sleeping with your head slightly elevated at night on two or three pillows for the first 2-3 nights will help minimize swelling. If the laser treatment is being done on the lower extremities (arms or legs), elevating these areas throughout the day and when sleeping at night for the first 3-5 nights will help minimize swelling.
  • Swelling may vary from patient to patient and from treatment to treatment.
  • NO RUBBING, PICKING OR WIPING THE TREATED AREA.
  • It is okay to shower the day of the procedure.
  • Gentle cleansing with the fingertips is okay.
  • Crusting/scabbing may occur (allow to come off naturally, do not try to remove).
  • Apply antibiotic ointment daily until the surface has healed (typically 1-2 weeks).
  • Cover treated the area with a bandage if it is in a location that will be rubbed or irritated by clothing.

Photos

PicoWay laser treatment to remove tattoo by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay laser treatment to remove tattoo by Dr. Groff
Laser treatment to remove tattoo by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Laser treatment to remove tattoo by Dr. Groff
PicoWay laser used to remove chest tattoo by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay laser to remove chest tattoo by Dr. Wu
PicoWay laser used to remove arm tattoo by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay laser to remove arm tattoo by Dr. Wu
PicoWay laser used to remove neck tattoo by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay laser to remove neck tattoo by Dr. Wu
PicoWay laser to remove a tatto on the neck by Dr. Boen. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay laser to remove tattoo on the neck by Dr. Boen
PicoWay and PicoSure laser to remove unwanted tattoo on female patient by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay and PicoSure Lasers for Tattoo Removal by Dr. Groff
PicoWay laser to remove tattoo by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay for Laser Tattoo Removal by Dr. Wu
PicoWay laser treatment to remove a large tattoo from the back by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoWay Laser Treatment to Remove Tattoo by Dr. Groff
PicoSure and PicoWay lasers used to remove a tattoo by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. PicoSure and PicoWay Laser Tattoo Removal by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed Before and after laser tattoo removal by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after PicoWay laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Goldman. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after PicoWay laser for tattoo removal by Dr. Goldman
Actual un-retouched patient before and after laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Picoway laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Picoway laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Picoway laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Picoway laser for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Picoway laser treatment for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Picoway laser for tattoo removal by Dr. Groff

Videos

Safe & Effective Laser Tattoo Removal by a Board-Certified Dermatologist in San Diego, CA
Lumenis Laser Tattoo Removal with Dr. Monica Boen (0:20)
Radiation Tattoo Removal: Dry Skin Remedies (5:03)
Dr. Mitchel Goldman Discusses Laser Tattoo Removal with PicoSure (3:40)
Laser Tattoo Removal by Dr. Wu (2:51)
Tattoo Removal in San Diego (4:01)
San Diego Tattoo Removal: Ruby Laser (0:41)
Dr. Wu Removes Eyeliner Tattoo (0:55)

FAQs

Q: How does tattoo removal work?

A: Laser energy is directed at the art, passing harmlessly through the outer layers of the skin and directly targeting the ink. The ink is disrupted, allowing your body to absorb it, break it down naturally, and remove the tattoo.

Q: What types of tattoos can be removed?

A: We are able to remove any type because we have various lasers. Different treatments are able to remove different colors. Our office is fully equipped with everything needed to remove all colors, shapes, and sizes.

Q: Are certain colors easier to remove than others?

A: Yes, certain colors respond quicker to elimination. For example, black, red, dark orange, and dark blue are the easiest and fastest to remove. Green, purple, brown, light orange and light blue may require more visits. The depth of the tattoo will also determine how many treatments are needed, as well as the type of ink used. Lastly, your skin tone will play a part in how fast the laser works. Lighter skin tones typically have a higher success rate.

Q: How many treatments will I need?

A: During your consultation, one of our board-certified dermatologists will estimate the number of treatments you will need. As every person is unique, every tattoo is unique, but most take between 5-10 treatments to remove, each 4-6 weeks apart.

Q: Will the tattoo completely disappear?

A: In most cases, yes, it will completely disappear. The ability to completely remove body art depends on several factors, including size, location, how long you have had it for, etc.

Q: How much downtime is required?

A: The aftercare is minimal. You are able to return to your daily activities immediately after the treatment. However, you should keep the treated areas out of the sun for a few days and wear a good sunscreen.

Q: Will I have scars?

A: After the removal of a tattoo most patients will not scar, however scarring is possible with any medical procedure. Compliance with our detailed after-care instructions will reduce your chances of scarring.

Q: Can I remove only part of a tattoo?

A: Yes, our lasers are very accurate so we can remove just a portion if you wish.

Q: Can I remove permanent make-up?

A: Yes. Cosmetic ink is different than the ink used in body tattoos, but we have the correct lasers to effectively remove permanent make-up.

Q: Is it painful?

A: The pain associated with removing a tattoo is very tolerable. Most patients describe the feeling as similar to a rubber band snapping on the skin. A numbing cream can be applied prior to the treatment. When our San Diego dermatologists treat a sensitive area, a local anesthetic may be used.

Q: Are there any side effects of laser tattoo removal?

A: Laser tattoo removal side effects are generally very minimal but may include hyperpigmentation (an abundance of color in the skin around the treatment site) or hypopigmentation (treatment area becomes lighter than your normal skin color).

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Prices vary from patient to patient and depend on the size, color, and location of the tattoo. To find out how much the cost of laser tattoo removal in San Diego will be for you, schedule a consultation with one of our cosmetic dermatologists.

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The information available on this website is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and/or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.

*Free in-person consultations are available with Drs. Butterwick, Groff, Wu, Boen, and Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. General Dermatology consultations are subject to a fee. Virtual consultations are subject to a fee that may be applied towards treatment. Promotions are not available with Dr Goldman.

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