Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Can tattoo removal damage the skin?"

ZocdocAnswersCan tattoo removal damage the skin?


I have an embarrassing tattoo on my left wrist that I want removed. If I have it removed with laser beams will it damage my skin? Can it ruin your skin if you have a tattoo taken off?


Nowadays we have newer and more advanced technology so treatment of tattoos with laser has become more effective with minimal side effects and very low risk of scarring. However, this can vary depending on the situation. The tattoo removal process involves the treatment with a high-intensity laser light beam. It works effectively in removing tattoos by specifically targeting tattoo pigment (without targeting normal skin) and breaking up the pigment colors into smaller fragments that are then cleared away by your own immune system. The result is a fading of the tattoo over a course of several treatments. That said, laser tattoo removal can leave textural changes in the skin as well as a residual change in the skin pigment. The common problem in people with dark skin tones is that the skin in the treated area may end up lighter or darker than the normal skin or having keloid scars (bumpy, colored scars often seen in darker skinned patients after surgery or trauma). Other potential side effects include blistering, which is usually temporary. But, the more treatments you have, the more damage you do to your skin, causing painful blisters and scabs that can eventually lead to scarring. Some tattoo shops often offer tattoo removal, but you should be careful and make sure to have your tattoo removed by a medical doctor to avoid these potential side effects. I would suggest that you seek out a reputable dermatologist who particularly specializes in laser tattoo removal in your area to ensure proper treatment and care.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.