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Can Tattoos Be Removed Completely? What You Need To Know

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Can tattoos be removed completely? You're definitely not alone in wondering. About one in every four people with tattoos regret getting it. The good news is that it’s possible to remove your tattoos. We've made technological strides that have ensured that the once-permanent tattoos are not anymore. But can tattoos be removed completely? Here’s some not-so-good news; there's no guarantee that they can be. Your tattoo removal’s success depends on many factors. Some of them are controllable, and others are not.

You want that tattoo gone like yesterday, and you don't just want it gone, you want it gone gone. It might be possible, but there are lots of things to consider about your particular tattoo. So, let's find out if you can get rid of that ink or if you're going to have to find a way to live with it.

Factors That Affect Tattoo Removal

woman considering the factors for tattoo removal

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Can tattoos be removed completely if you deal with all the factors that affect the removal process? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at these factors so that you can manage your expectations.

The appearance of the tattoo

Can tattoos be removed completely if you deal with all the factors that affect the removal process? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at these factors so that you can manage your expectations.

The colors used

The size of the tattoo

The depth of the tattoo

The chemicals in the ink

The age of the tattoo

Location of a tattoo

Tattoo layering

The general condition of your skin

Your skin's health and any skin damage your might have sustained may also play a role in the success of your tattoo removal efforts.

Preexisting scars

Your skin type

Tattoo removal methods

Can tattoos be removed completely with the right process? Perhaps. Some tattoo removal methods available today are more effective than others. Here are a few.

PicoSure tattoo removal

Q-switch laser tattoo removal

Surgical excision


Other Factors

woman with tattoo

Image from Pixabay

Besides these, there are a number of other factors that can affect the effectiveness of your tattoo removal effort.

Number of sessions

Can tattoos be removed completely if you attend all the sessions? It’s quite likely. Different tattoo removal methods and their appearance will determine how many times you should see a skin specialist for inking removal. Laser treatments will usually take 3 to 10 sessions. However, some people may need up to15 sessions to remove the tattoo completely. Others may even need more than that. PicoSure is usually more effective than other laser tattoo removal methods like Q-switching. On average, you may need about four to six treatment sessions to remove some inkings. As for surgical excision, sometimes, all it takes is just one surgical procedure. Dermabrasion is unpredictable regarding how many times you will need to get rid of your body art

Cost of tattoo removal

Can tattoos be removed completely if you have a big budget? The chances are that they can. Money issues may become a barrier to your quest to completely erase the tattoos on your body. If your budget cannot accommodate the entire tattoo removal process, then some of the inkings will remain.

Removing tattoos from your body will cost you anywhere from $200 to $500 per session. However, technologies like PicoSure require fewer treatment sessions and may end up costing less in the end. On the other hand, surgical excision can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Then there is dermabrasion. This option on average costs $1,000 to $1,200. It’s, therefore, important that you do your math and determine which option is the most affordable, but practical for your needs.

The expertise of the tattoo removal professional

You might be tempted to hire an amateur to deal with your tattoo. Or you might even try to do it yourself. But the results are likely to be unsatisfactory. Skin professionals have the training, experience, and machinery that you need to remove your inkings. You have a much better chance of fading away those inkings entirely if you take advantage of the expertise that they have to offer you.


Be sure to pay close attention to the aftercare instructions that you get from the skin specialist who handles your tattoo removal process. Most laser removal sessions are six to eight weeks apart. That is to allow for healing time after each session. If you don’t take good care of yourself in the meantime, then you will prolong the healing time. That means that you will require a longer period to remove your tattoos fully.

Lifestyle choices

Some lifestyle habits like smoking have a negative impact on tattoo removal. Smoking slows down the rate at which your body heals itself, which means that you will take longer to get rid of your inking. For this reason, it reduces your chances of completely removing a tattoo within the standard 10 sessions.

Can Tattoos Be Removed Completely?

So, can tattoos be removed completely? To put it simply, it depends on numerous factors. Some of those factors like smoking, the removal method you opt for, and finding the best skin expert available, are in your control. Other factors like the tattoo appearance and your skin type may be out of control, since the tattoo already exists. In view of these facts, it’s important for you to do your best to deal with the factors in your power so that they favor you. That way, you can raise your chances of completely removing tattoos when you are tired of them.

YAG Laser Removal: Everything You Need To Know


There are many reasons why you may no longer like your tattoo and want to remove it. Perhaps it wasn't done by a professional or skilled artist and doesn't look exactly how you wanted, or maybe the design was something you loved when you were 20, but at 40, you regret it. Whatever reason you may have, you might consider YAG laser removal.

What you once thought you would have forever can now be just a memory with the help of this special laser. There are many different types of lasers besides YAG. Understanding all your options is important to ensure your result is what you want it to be. You need education on this topic before you ever begin treatments because many variables can affect its success. While you can use the information here to educate yourself, make sure that you always speak with a trained professional before you get YAG laser removal.

What Is YAG Laser Removal?

YAG laser removal is just one kind of laser removal option when it comes to getting rid of a tattoo. According to LaserAway, a YAG laser is part of the Q-switched laser group and stands for yttrium aluminum garnet. These lasers use pulses of energy to break down the pigment in the ink so the body can naturally get rid of them. The ink particles are too big for the body to remove as they are, which is why they need to be broken down. A YAG laser is very concentrated and precise as it works, so the surrounding skin is left untouched.

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains different factors affect the tattoo removal results of YAG laser removal. These factors include how well the ink pigment will absorb the color of the laser, if the laser can reach far enough in the skin due to the depth of the pigment, and how much energy the pigment requires to break apart. The person operating the machine must know how to set it and use it in order to achieve the best results.

How YAG Differs From Other Laser Removal Options

woman having a tattoo

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There are many lasers used for removing tattoos. YAG laser removal is a leading option because of its versatility and usefulness. There are two types of YAG lasers: 532 nm and 1064. The 532 works best on removing bright colors while the 1064 works well on black, blue, and green. However, some other Q-switched lasers also produce nice results.

One alternative is the ruby laser. This really only works for blue or black inks. It is good for sensitive areas where healing may take longer, though. Another option is an alexandrite laser. Again, this works best for blue or black ink but may also work on green. The biggest downside is it often causes hyperpigmentation.

A different and newer option is the picosecond laser. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, picosecond lasers may be more effective than Q-switched lasers. They break down particles more quickly, meaning it takes fewer treatments to remove a tattoo. However, they do not work as well on dark skin colors. The YAG laser seems to be the forerunner in that area still.

Limitations Of YAG Laser Removal For Tattoos

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While there are many good things about YAG laser removal, this laser also has limitations.

Skin Type

skin in person's hand

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To begin with, this laser works on all skin types except the darkest skin colors. It also will not work well on tanned skin. If you get a tan, you should wait for it to fade before you get YAG laser removal. However, YAG works the best of most lasers on darker skin without causing hypopigmentation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Pigment Removal

In addition, any laser has limits on what pigments it can remove. Because of this, most treatments use multiple lasers. Each type of laser works at different wavelengths. The wavelength affects which color of ink the laser can remove. The color has to be able to absorb the laser in order for it to heat up and break down.

Length Of Removal

Furthermore, no laser can remove a tattoo in one session. It always takes multiple treatments. YAG laser removal lightens the tattoo with each session. Professionals use the Kirby-Desai Scale to figure out how many treatments you will need to remove your tattoo completely and if complete removal is even possible. This scale uses factors, including the layering of the ink, the color, the location, the size, your skin type, and the amount of ink, to give a professional a good idea how long it will take to remove it. Do be aware that YAG laser removal may not be able to remove your tattoo, even after multiple treatments completely.

Other Options May Work Better

Finally, YAG laser removal may not always be the best option. Factors that affect removal include your skin type, the age of the tattoo, and the location. Other options may provide better results or less recovery time.

What To Expect With YAG Laser Tattoo Removal

person having a tattoo at the back

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If you decide to get YAG laser removal, you need to prepare for the process. You will not see immediate results because it takes time for the laser to remove a tattoo. Generally, you will need multiple treatments. Between each treatment, you may have to wait as long as seven weeks. That allows time for your skin to heal.

Type Of Tattoo And Your Results

tattoo on shoulder

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According to the Journal of the Laser and Health Academy, the color and age of your tattoo also play a role in how long YAG laser removal will take. It is easier to remove older tattoos and those done by an amateur than it is to remove newer and professionally done tattoos. If you only have one color, removal is also faster. Some pigments, such as purple, yellow, and green are very difficult to remove. In some cases, YAG laser removal cannot remove them completely.

The Procedure

Master of tatoo

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The actual procedure during a session usually requires only 10 minutes. You will do it in the provider's office and are able to leave after. You will usually get an application of anesthetic cream on the tattoo before the procedure starts to numb the area and provide pain relief. When it is complete, the provider may apply an antibacterial cream.


tattoo in person arm

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You should wash the treated area with mild soap and water, along with using moisturizer in the time right after your session. Professionals recommend avoiding the sun, tanning, exercise, and alcohol for at least a week. You may also need to apply a fading cream. After a treatment, it is common that you will have mild to moderate skin irritation. Your skin may swell for a few days. The treatment area may also develop a scab for about a week. Generally, any symptoms or side effects will not last more than a week after your treatment.

Results With The YAG Laser

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Everyone has different results from YAG laser removal because everyone's situation is different. As mentioned, your results depend on a variety of factors. Only a professional can project how many treatments you may need and what the possible outcome may be.

One thing to keep in mind is that any laser treatment could change the color of your skin. You could end up with hypopigmentation, which is the lightening of your skin, or hyperpigmentation, which is the darkening of your skin. However, YAG laser removal has a lower chance of causing hypopigmentation than other lasers.

Another issue you may have with laser tattoo removal is scarring. Keep in mind that YAG laser removal has less of a chance of leaving scars than other laser removal methods.

Can Anyone Buy And Use A YAG Laser?

credit card and money on jeans pocket

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While there are many different YAG lasers on sale to the general public, you need to understand that most of the lasers you can buy and could afford to buy are not usable for tattoo removal. According to Astanza, only certain lasers will work to remove a tattoo because the wavelength and other details of the machine must be at certain settings. The design of most YAG lasers sold for home use is to remove small age spots or hair.


woman doing tattoo

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While anyone can try to do laser tattoo removal, only trained experts can do it safely and effectively. The treatment is only as good as the person doing it. If a person does not know how to run the laser, he or she will not be able to remove your tattoo effectively, and the chances of an error or injury greatly increase. The operator must know what wavelength and pulse duration to set the machine to and how long to apply it to your skin for optimal results. A dermatologist is often the best person to choose, but as long as an individual has training in YAG laser removal, he or she should be able to do an effective job.

Legal Regulations

Keep in mind as well that each state may have regulations as to who can do YAG laser removal. Some states have regulations requiring the removal facility to have a licensed medical professional affiliated with it, and some states require the licensed medical professional to be on site. A few states, such as Ohio, require only licensed physicians to do tattoo removal, while some have no regulation at all. However, most states at least require the person doing YAG laser removal to have certification and training in using the laser and safety. Finally, federal regulations require all facilities offering tattoo removal to have and use lasers approved by the FDA for tattoo removal.

Treatment And Equipment Costs

person having tattoo at the back

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When it comes to the cost of your YAG laser removal, it is almost always tied to the cost of the equipment. You will find the price of one session ranges from $100 to $1,500. Remember that you must have multiple sessions to remove your tattoo completely, so the cost can add up. How much you pay depends on the details of your tattoo, such as age, size, color, and the depth of the ink.

The laser costs to your removal technician or doctor, according to the National Laser Institute, usually range from $ to $$$. These are medical-quality lasers able to remove various sizes of tattoos. Some facilities may buy their equipment while others may lease it. In any case, the chances are good the facility is still paying for the equipment and needs to recoup that through the treatment costs.

If you do a search for YAG lasers to buy, you will find some sold to the public. These range from smaller machines used only for hair removal or small spot removal to industrial machines not meant for use in a medical situation. The smaller machines may sell for $ to $$$. Larger machines often sell used from $ to $$$.

Summing It Up

YAG laser removal is a popular option for tattoo removal. It has many benefits that other laser removal options lack. This tattoo removal option has fewer risks of permanent damage to the skin and quick healing times. It is also fairly easy to find a facility that provides this type of laser tattoo removal because it's a top choice.

If you want to get YAG laser removal, it is important to choose a provider carefully. A trained professional is your best choice because he or she will know how to properly and safely use the laser. Also, many states require professionals to have certification in order to offer such services.

In any case, you should always discuss your desires with a professional before beginning any treatment. YAG laser removal can help many people to remove unwanted tattoos completely, but there is never a guarantee it will work for you. Discussing your specific situation with a professional will allow you to know best what to expect.

The Top 3 Tattoo Removal Cream Products Money Can Buy

Persons with tattoo playing rock paper scissors and stone

Tattoo removal cream is marketed as a quick and painless remedy to a problem that's gotten under your skin. This is appealing if you are like a growing number of Americans who are beginning to feel remorse for the ink they got a while back.

One study found that more than 30 percent of people with tattoos experience some regret. Furthermore, tattoo regret is becoming a source of clinical depression, another study claims.

So, are you curious if tattoo removal cream works? And, if it does — what is the best product for you? We'll take a look at the top three creams on the market, discuss their claims, and then compare user experiences and ratings. But first, don't you want to know how tattoo removal creams work and if they are safe to use?

Comparison Of The Best Tattoo Removal Cream

What Is Tattoo Removal Cream And How Does It Work?

The goal of tattoo removal cream is to remove or, at the very least, lighten permanent tattoos. But tattoos, by design, are difficult to remove. Tattoos are created by inserting or injecting a small amount of concentrated pigment or ink under the skin. Using a needle to penetrate the skin, a tattoo machine deposits the insoluble ink with each puncture.

Person applying tattoo

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Since skin is always shedding its outer layers of dead cells, it’s important that the tattoo ink is placed deep enough. Most needles penetrate around one millimeter into the surface to remain indelible to regular exfoliation. Therefore, for a tattoo removal cream to be effective, it must provide a higher degree of exfoliation.

FDA Warning

Tattoo removal creams, gels, and serums contain both organic and chemical acids and other compounds designed to remove a portion of skin cells in order to lighten or remove a tattoo. The FDA warns that they have not approved any do-it-yourself creams or ointments and is unaware of any clinical evidence that supports their effectiveness.

Additionally, the FDA warns that tattoo removal products may cause unexpected damage or reactions such as rashes, burns, and scarring, including changes in skin color. Before you use any do-it-yourself tattoo removal product, be sure to consult your doctor.

Skin Anatomy

Skin is your body’s largest organ. It provides your first line of defense against infection, heat, and injury. There are three layers of living human skin: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layers.


The epidermis is the thinnest, outermost layer of the skin. The thickness of this layer depends on the area of the body. The epidermal layer of your eyelids is around 0.5mm. There are four to five separate layers of the epidermis. The last layer consists of skin cells that continuously die, flake off, then regenerate.


The dermis is the thickest layer of the skin. This layer contains hair follicles, blood vessels, nerve endings, and fibrous connective tissue that protects the skin organ from injury. This layer contains the deposits of tattoo ink. The dermal layer is 1.0mm to 2.0mm deep. Damage to this layer of the skin can cause permanent scarring.


This tissue is the deepest of your three layers of skin. This layer is made up of fat, larger blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.

TCA Tattoo Removal Creams

Trichloroacetic Acid, or TCA, is a strong acid commonly used in at-home preparations for removing warts, corns, and calluses. These skin conditions happen because of the excessive proliferation of skin cells. Therefore, they can come off without causing damage to the outer layer of the skin. For tattoo removal, TCA works by creating a chemical burn to the skin at the dermis level.

Hydroquinone Creams

Hydroquinone is a chemical called benzene-1, 4-diol, which is in the phenol class of drugs. Phenols, derived from coal tar, are a mildly acidic compound that attempts to bleach the skin by blocking your body’s melanin production. This action will do nothing for ink deposits in the dermal layer.

Therefore, hydroquinone is one of the least active ingredients for tattoo removal cream. However, it has the fewest side effects. It can cause mild redness, stinging, and burning to the skin.

Acid Peels (Lactic, Acetic, Glycolic)

Acid skin peels are popular in the practice of aesthetic or “spa” dermatology because of their ability to rejuvenate the skin. They are effective at peeling away the outer layers of the skin. However, these compounds can cause burns to the skin if a physician or trained clinician does not supervise their application.

Retinol Containing Creams For Tattoo Removal

Retinol creams are effective in lessening the signs of aging by promoting advanced exfoliation of the epidermal layers of skin. Over-the-counter strength retinol creams turn into retinoic acid on the skin and have limited effects.

No retinol impacts the dermal layer of the skin. Therefore, retinol would be an ineffective ingredient for a tattoo removal cream.

3 Best Tattoo Removal Creams

After poring over hundreds of reviews reading customer experiences and stories, we created this tattoo removal cream list from the highest rated products on the market. This list includes promising new products and others that have been time-tested. For consistency, we used Amazon to provide ratings and reference social proof.

Tat B Gone Tattoo Removal System 2 Month Supply
  • Career concerns
  • A change in personal taste or lifestyle
  • Fading or distortion of aging skin
  • Poor placement
  • Color change of the tattoo ink

The company behind this product states that their simple system is affordable, and “the most convenient of any tattoo removal method available.” The Tat B Gone system promises it will help fade away your tattoo and permanent cosmetics without the pain of traditional tattoo removal procedures.

Throughout a month or more, the solution promises to absorb into the skin where the “active ingredients interact with tattoo ink.”

Pricing and Reviews on Amazon

The Tat B Gone product is rated 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon. You can purchase a two-month supply of the two-step system for between $$$. However, it is a new product for Amazon and has only a handful of reviews. One customer happily reports that her “dark back tattoo” is much lighter after using the tattoo removal cream for a week and a half.

What is in Tat B Gone?

That’s a great question. Amazon offers no answers. Ingredients are also unavailable on the Tat B Gone website. However, the company claims that the Tat B Gone formula does not contain harmful ingredients like Chromabright, acids (TCA), and hydroquinone.

50% TCA Chemical Skin Peel - Tattoo Remover, Warts, Moles & Skin Tags! (4ml / 50%)
  • Trichloroacetic Acid (CCl3COOH) Removes Tattoos, Skin Tags, Stretch Marks, Moles, Acne Scars, Age Spots, Wrinkles and Freckles
  • 50% Solution NOT A FACE PEEL - Wart, Mole and Skin Tag and Tattoo Removal
  • Most Common Percentages for FACIAL SKIN PEEL are between (8-25%). The stronger concentrations are commonly used to remove, moles, warts, skin tags and tattoo's / MAY BE DILUTED WITH WATER
  • Chemical peel products are a more aggressive form of over the counter products. Salicylic acid peels, lactic acid peels, VI peels and TCA peels are all chemical peel products that have proven more effective in counteracting the effects of aging and lack of skin care. The active ingredients in these products have proven to be more proactive in treating skin conditions by boosting natural levels of proteins and enhancing skin radiance.
  • Includes: 1 Dram Bottle of 50% TCA Peel Acid & Safety Instructions

The product information claims that this TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) peel is additive free and is ACS certified for quality and purity. RePair sells exclusively on Amazon and has no external website. This product contains 50 percent strength trichloroacetic acid.

It specifies not to use this product as a facial peel. The label states that this formula removes skin tags, tattoos, and warts.

Pricing and Reviews on Amazon

RePare Skin Care 50 percent TCA is available on Amazon. The selling price is in the $$ to $$ range. This product has a rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars, making it one of the highest rated products in the tattoo removal cream category. Dozens of reviews confirm that the compound works for lightning tattoos.

Many users complain of severe burning and advise using the product with a chemical neutralizer, which is sold separately. This product is also available in 75 percent strength medical grade TCA and 100 percent strength medical grade TCA. These have similar ratings and all claim to remove tattoos as well.

Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel 1 oz - Enhanced with Kojic Acid & Bearberry Extract
  • Not for Beginner's. This is a level 2 peel. Use a level 1 peel successfully before trying a level 2. A Professionally Formulated Chemical Peel. Each bottle contains approx. 15-20 full facial Peels. Actual Product Color: : Gold. Kojic Acid has a natural golden color.
  • Ideal for Age Spots, Freckles, Sun Spots, Skin Lightening, Hyperpigmentation, Wrinkles and Fine Lines.
  • Infused with Botanical Extracts of Bearberry and Licorice which provide natural skin lightening (Tyrosinase Inhibiting) properties. Green tea extract and cucumber provide a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins which aid in the natural prevention and healing process of your skin.
  • Kojic Acid, a natural inhibitor of melanin derived from a mushroom first discovered by the Japanese. It has been successfully used to lighten freckles, age spots, pregnancy marks, stretch marks, acne scars, pigmentation and discoloration conditions of the face & body. Kojic is effective in eliminating free radicals, strengthening cell activity, and is considered to be a natural and safe alternative of Hydroquinone as a skin lightener.
  • Guaranteed Quality - Manufactured in an FDA registered cGMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant facility. We conduct assay testing, identity testing, and micro testing for each batch to ensure the purity, concentration, and active ingredient is present, within spec, and meets or exceeds USP standards & FDA guidelines. Each batch will have its own unique lot number and expiration date printed onto the bottom of each bottle, as part of quality control procedures.

This product is available on Amazon. It will cost you around $$. This cream contains 50 percent lactic acid derived naturally from ingredients like licorice extract or kojic acid and bearberry extract.

The product claims to help lighten skin and tattoos by promoting the production of collagen. The botanical ingredients also increase cell turnover rate to create a brighter and more balanced texture.

Is it Effective for Tattoo Removal?

This product has 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over a thousand (mostly positive) reviews. When searching "tattoo removal cream" on Amazon, Perfect Image Lactic Acid Peel is one of the top results. However, none of the reviews reference the product’s effectiveness for removing tattoos.

Effective Alternatives to Tattoo Removal Cream

The FDA recognizes two treatments it says are safe and effective for permanent tattoo removal. Neither are as inexpensive and painless as tattoo removal cream. However, unlike over-the-counter fading creams, both of these methods are highly effective.

Laser Treatment

"Laser" is an acronym for the term “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Laser therapy is also known as laser rejuvenation or laser surgery. It is the most current and preferred method of removing unwanted tattoos. Laser therapy offers you a low-risk option for taking your ink off. It has very few side effects.

A dermatologist or surgeon uses a high-intensity laser to treat the skin. Unlike tattoo removal cream, laser beams work by breaking up the pigment colors. The kind of laser used depends on the pigment colors. There are separate lasers or different settings that work best for various colors.

Short haired inked woman wearing yellow sweater

Image by THE COLLAB. via Pexels

Commonly, a Q-Switched laser is used to remove tattoos. This laser targets and removes your tattooed skin selectively without damaging any of your surrounding tissue. This ensures that there is no scarring. The significant drawbacks of laser tattoo removal are its cost, discomfort, and the need for multiple treatments.

In the United States, laser tattoo removal treatment can cost between $$ to $$$ per session, and dependent upon the coverage area, it may take several sessions to remove the tattoo successfully. According to research, the laser doesn’t cause intense pain. However, you will feel a stinging and burning sensation.


Dermabrasion, called surgical skin planing, works through skin-resurfacing. Basically, it removes the top layers of the skin in a process similar to sanding. During this procedure, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon removes both the surface layers and the middle of the tattoo.

Tattooed woman using VR

Image by Tim Savage via Pexels

Following the dermabrasion procedure, the skin layers grow back without the tattoo. Dermabrasion is an outpatient procedure. Therefore, it doesn't require a hospital stay. According to reports, there is pain involved during the immediate postoperative period and profound itching during later phases of healing.

Dermabrasion tattoo removal costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the tattoo and factors like the size of your local market.

Tattoo Removal Cream Take-off

If the term “cream” makes you think of a thick, luxurious lotion-like product, then we can safely say that there are no good tattoo removal creams on the market. TCA or trichloroacetic acid is available in liquid form and works by causing a chemical burn to the skin.

This injury will cause a scabbing over of the area as the skin tries to regenerate. Depending on how deep the “burn” is that you receive, part of the tattoo ink may also come off when the scabs peel. However, as the FDA warns, the process is not painless or without risk.

Finally, other “creams” on the market, like Tat B Gone, offer far too little information regarding ingredients to consider safe. While the product's early reviews seem promising, much remains to be seen. Creams containing active ingredients like hydroquinone cream and natural acids are less likely to cause severe side-effects like burns, and pain, but they are also less effective.

Can You Tattoo Over A Removed Tattoo? Here’s The Truth

Person applying tattoo

​​​​​​image source: pexels.com

Everyone knows that tattoos are forever, but they don’t have to be. When faced with a tattoo which has lost its meaning, or faded so badly it looks poor, many tattoo enthusiasts opt to remove or cover up the offending ink. After undergoing treatment to remove an unwanted tattoo, many are left with the same question: can you tattoo over a removed tattoo?

The good news is that there are ways to tattoo over the same patch of skin from which you removed a tattoo. There are many variables to consider when asking “Can you tattoo over a removed tattoo?” The method of removal factors into the effectiveness, as does the type of cover-up work you get. It’s important to make the right choices to maximize the efficacy of your cover-up tattoo.

What Are The Different Methods Of Tattoo Removal?

The first thing to understand about tattoo removal is that professionals do not remove all tattoos in the same way. When seeking out a method of removing your tattoo, multiple options are ranging from surgery to home remedies. Not all removal methods are equally effective, however. That is particularly so when you are seeking to tattoo over the same area at a later date. If you think you may want to cover up your removed tattoo at a later time, it’s essential to choose a method which is not only safe and effective but also best positions you to get your new ink applied.

Can they tattoo over a removed tattoo afterward? It all depends on the removal method you used.

Laser tattoo removal

The most popular way to remove unwanted tattoos is through laser tattoo removal. In a laser removal treatment, your removal professional fires a laser at the tattoo in small bursts. Tattoos remain because the ink embedded in the skin is too large to be broken down by the body. The laser breaks pieces of the ink apart. Your body then naturally removes the offending ink from your skin.

Laser removal therapy is not a one-shot treatment. So can you tattoo over a removed tattoo? Don’t expect to be ready for your new ink immediately. The exact number of treatments required depends on the colors of ink, and how faded the current tattoo is. No matter what your tattoo situation, however, you will almost certainly need multiple sessions. When can you tattoo over a removed tattoo following laser removal? Most tattoos require between 6 and 10 laser removal sessions to fade them away completely. With a break period of between six to eight weeks for healing after each session, this means full removal takes typically between half a year to a year.

Removing your tattoo with a laser is not a painless procedure. Exact levels of discomfort depend on your personal pain tolerance. The good news is that laser removal therapy is the most reliable method of non-surgical removal.

Surgical tattoo removal

The other highly effective method of tattoo removal consists of surgically removing the skin containing the offending ink. Surgeons carefully cut around the existing tattoo to entirely remove the skin containing the tattoo. Then they pull the skin on either side of the wound together with stitches. As skin has elastic tendencies, you can do this on smaller tattoos with no additional grafting required.

A primary benefit of using surgical tattoo removal is the speed with which the surgeon removes your tattoo. As the tattoo is not faded treatment by treatment, only one surgery is required to remove your tattoo. It provides the shortest possible turnaround from deciding you want your tattoo removed to full removal.

Unfortunately, surgical tattoo removal is not without its drawbacks. That is particularly true if you are wondering when can you tattoo over a removed tattoo. Due to the need to pull the wound shut after excision, it is not ideally suited for large tattoos. If you plan to remove a big piece of ink then tattoo over it, surgical tattoo removal does not offer a viable route. You can never tattoo over a removed tattoo in this case.

Dermabrasion tattoo removal

Some people in need of tattoo removal opt to avoid lasers or surgery with dermabrasion. The removal process of a dermabrasion treatment involves the scraping of the skin which contains the ink with an abrasive surface. Your doctor essentially sands away the skin over the tattoo to get to the layer containing the ink.

As with laser tattoo removal, dermabrasion treatments commonly require multiple treatments for removal. Dermabrasion is also a painful procedure, as you can imagine from a process which comes down to sanding away your living skin. Laser tattoo removal also offers a more precise removal, as a laser can be used more accurately than the dermabrasion tools. Finally, dermabrasion removal can leave behind unsightly scarring. While this is effective for removing an offending word or picture, it’s not a great canvas for later tattoos.

Due to the scarring and pain involved with dermabrasion, it’s a poor choice if you are opting to cover your removed tattoo at a later date. Other options offer more comfortable and more effective methods of removal. So can you tattoo over a removed tattoo if you went with dermabrasion? The short answer is, no.

Chemical and home remedies

With professional tattoo removal often costing hundreds of dollars, some turn to home treatments. While the specifics of various home creams or other treatments vary, they all share their ineffectiveness. The FDA advises against using any so-called tattoo removal creams. Salabrasion techniques take the painful scrubbing of dermabrasion and remove the medical professionals and local anesthetics.

None of the available chemical treatments and home remedies are viable options to remove a tattoo for a future cover-up, and they should be treated as such. They are both less effective and more dangerous than professional treatments. Can you tattoo over a removed tattoo? If you removed it with a home remedy, the answer is likely no.

How Do Cover Up Tattoos Work?

Young woman getting tattoo

image source: pixabay.com

As the name implies, cover-up work involves tattooing over a previous piece of artwork. Cover up tattoos offer some of the most effective options for removing a tattoo you no longer want. Although any tattoo can be tattooed over, there are factors which improve your overall results. From the color of the old and new pieces to the type of design chosen, knowing how to get the best out of your cover-up work positions you to get the best possible results with your new ink. Instead of asking if you can tattoo over a removed tattoo, ask if you can tattoo over an existing tattoo!

Size matters

Any tattoo can be covered up, but not all cover jobs are equally challenging. It’s not always necessary to cover the entire previous tattoo. Occasionally your tattoo artist will allow some of the original ink to remain because the top design removes enough context that it looks like part of the new work. Generally, however, your new tattoo must be larger than the previous piece. That means that when getting a cover-up tattoo, the smaller the original tattoo, the easier the job becomes.

The more detail, the better

The best cover up designs are those which feature lots of detailed work. Because the artist is not working with a clean slate, large consistent blocks are more likely to have inconsistent tone due to the pigments underneath. Complex designs which feature minimal consistent spaces minimize the effect of the underlying ink. Small variations over the length of a series of thin lines of different color become less visible. When in doubt, add additional details to your cover-up piece for better results.

Color choices

The color of your tattoos matter with cover-ups, and not just for the new piece. Although no colors are prohibitive in either covering the tattoo or the new work, there are general rules to guide you. For the new tattoo, the darker color choices you make, the more effective they are at covering your old work. The flip side remains true for the original work. Lighter colors cover more easily than dark colors.

That is where utilizing fading methods like laser tattoo removal proves so helpful. When planning to cover up a dark tattoo, many artists recommend undergoing some removal treatments. When using laser removal therapy as part of a cover-up plan, full treatment is optional. The more sessions you receive and the lighter your old ink becomes, the better your final results will be. If, however, you are operating on a tight budget, speak with your artist about getting just a few sessions to lighten the old artwork enough for an effective cover-up, without having to spend money on additional laser sessions.

Can You Tattoo Over A Removed Tattoo?

Man applying tattoo

image source: pixabay.com

Removing a regrettable tattoo is an effective way of ridding yourself of the offending ink. Once it’s gone, however, many tattoo enthusiasts realize they still want something there, just something different. Whether your removal has left some unsightly signs of your previous work, or you just can’t bear the thought of “wasting” that space with no tattoo, there’s good news for anyone who has wondered “Can I tattoo over a removed tattoo?”

The answer is yes, you can. Don’t rush into getting new work done, however. There are important considerations to factor into the process to ensure you are happy with your final product.

How many treatments should I get?

There is no magic number for tattoo removal treatments. Both laser removal therapy and dermabrasion work to fade your tattoo over several sessions, but they’re not created equal when you plan to get a cover up tattoo. Laser removal best serves those opting for a cover-up tattoo. The scarring process after treatment is less noticeable and creates a better canvas for your new piece.

Once you’ve decided on your removal method, speak with your artist to determine an estimate on how many sessions you need. The current condition of your tattoo affects the number, as do the colors of both the old and new tattoos. The more treatments applied to the tattoo, the fainter it becomes, yielding better cover-ups. Those on a budget should speak with their artists about designs which will require minimal lightening before cover up.

How long do I have to wait after my last treatment?

Any professional tattoo removal method brings with it some recovery time. Exact times vary on a case to case basis, but six to eight weeks is a reasonable estimate. It’s vital that you don’t rush your cover-up tattoo. The scar tissue left behind by removal tattoos needs to heal to avoid infection fully. When in doubt, err on the side of taking extra recovery time before cover-up work. Your new tattoo will hopefully be with you the rest of your life. It’s worth waiting an extra week or two to get the best work possible.

Is it going to hurt?

As with any tattoo, the answer depends on your pain tolerance. The pain of your work varies by location of the tattoo, as well. Tattooing over the scar tissue of the removed tattoo frequently leads to increased discomfort during the tattooing process. The increased pain is unlikely to be prohibitively so, but you should enter your session prepared for the potential that it will be more painful than previously.

The Final Answer To “Can You Tattoo Over A Removed Tattoo?”

Tattoo session

image source: pixabay.com

Dealing with a tattoo you no longer want is troubling. Removing the tattoo offers an opportunity to solve the problem, but it is not always a solution. Removal techniques only fade some tattoos. Scar tissue commonly remains, even after a successful removal treatment. It’s tempting to think you’re better off just covering up the old ink, and that’s partly true. The best method for removing any traces of an old tattoo is to do both.

Can you tattoo over a removed tattoo? Absolutely. In fact, cover up tattoos often look better when you first treat the prior tattoo with laser removal therapy. The lightened tones of your initial tattoo create a cleaner surface for your new work. If you’ve been considering tattooing over your removed tattoo, it provides an excellent remedy.

Did you once wonder, “Can you tattoo over a removed tattoo?” before getting the procedure yourself? Share the results with us in the comments so others can see the results of the process.

Laser Skin Tightening: Everything You Need To Be Aware Of

woman with smooth facial skin had undergone a laser skin tightening

Skin tightening treatments are not generally used for tattoo removal. However, if you are exploring your options for Rejuvenating your skin, this treatment may be something you are interested in.

Are the first signs of aging starting to take a toll on your skin’s appearance? Forget about the scalpel. Skin tightening is an effective and non-invasive way to lift sagging skin, eliminate cellulite, and smooth away wrinkles. And all of this is possible without surgery, downtime, or recovery. So how does skin tightening work? And is this treatment really as amazing as it sounds?

Non-invasive skin tightening has delivered amazing results to countless patients. But you should never undergo a procedure, regardless of how low-risk it is, without doing extensive research. Before visiting your dermatologist, learn about the cost, risks, and potential benefits of this revolutionary skin treatment.

What Is Skin Tightening?

Skin tightening is precisely what it sounds like: tightening loose skin on the face, neck, and body. Sagging and loose skin can occur after extreme weight loss, but for many people, this is just a natural part of aging. As we age, the collagen and elastin in our bodies begin to break down. Since these compounds are what gives skin its elasticity and tautness, without it our skin no longer fits the contours of our face and body.

Most skin tightening treatments work by contracting the skin and stimulating the production of new collagen. This helps bring new life into sagging or loose skin around the face, neck, and body. Skin tightening can help eliminate wrinkles and give your skin a more youthful appearance overall.

Skin tightening is appealing to many people because it is non-invasive. While there are several ways to perform a skin tightening treatment, very few require major surgery or incisions. Instead, skin tightening patients are in and out of their doctor’s office in no time.

However, it’s important to note that skin tightening is not a weight loss procedure. While some skin tightening results can give the appearance of weight loss, these procedures do not affect the fat tissue underneath the skin. Some other non-invasive treatments, like Coolsculpting, combine fat reduction with skin tightening for even more dramatic results.

The Most Popular Types of Skin Tightening

When it comes to non-invasive skin tightening treatments, you have a variety of options. Not only are doctors developing new techniques to improve the treatment process, but brand new technologies also emerge from time to time. Each technique has its own pros and cons, and some dermatologists specialize in one treatment type over the others.

The type of treatment that’s best for you will depend on a variety of personal factors, and only a licensed dermatologist can say which is the right one. Before committing to any one treatment type, make sure to consult with multiple doctors and explore all of your options.


dermatologist treating patient

The most popular brand name for ultrasound skin tightening is Ultherapy. The same ultrasound waves that have been used for decades to create images of fetuses and view internal injuries can now also help tighten your skin. While this treatment method penetrates deeper into the skin than most lasers, it’s currently only used for the face, chin, and decolletage. After Ultherapy or another ultrasound treatment, the skin around your face, brow, and chin will slowly tighten and lift. For the decolletage, or the skin between your neck and breast, this treatment can smooth wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging.

Ultrasound treatments can penetrate deeper into the skin because they use sound waves instead of light. These waves can reach the base layers of the skin to trigger collagen production. While it can take several weeks or even months to see the full results, this procedure generally leaves skin noticeably tighter and lifted.


Radiofrequency treatment

Radiofrequency treatments use the same wavelengths as your radio, television, or even your Wi-Fi network. But radiofrequency, or RF, treatments use a specific set of wavelengths honed to penetrate and heat the inner layers of the skin. This heat helps promote the production of new collagen and elastin underneath the skin’s surface.

Unlike ultrasound skin tightening, which only treats the face and surrounding area, RF treatments can help contour and tighten the entire body. Some patients choose RF therapy to treat cellulite and tighten loose skin on their abdomen or legs. But facial skin tightening is still one of the most popular uses for this treatment. Properly administered RF treatments can deliver results that last for up to two years.

Intense pulsed light

Intense pulsed light process

Sometimes, intense pulse light, frequently called IPL, is combined with radiofrequency techniques to penetrate deeper into the skin. The addition of IPL to this treatment supposedly helps the doctor target certain areas of the skin more specifically than radiofrequency alone. One of the popular brand names for this combination therapy is called Refirme.

With the inclusion of IPL, some patients might also see improvements to their skin’s color, texture, and more. Studies show improvement in elasticity and tone, as well as pigmentation and visible veins following this combination treatment.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate?

old woman

These skin tightening procedures are ideal for patients who have noticeably lost some elasticity and firmness in their skin. This could present itself in a change in skin texture, the appearance of small wrinkles, or sagging skin. Tightening treatments are not ideal for patients who have excess skin following weight loss or more dramatic signs of aging that require cosmetic surgery. A licensed dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon can tell you if you’re a good candidate for these procedures.

While these skin tightening procedures are low-risk for most patients, some conditions can prevent you from getting one of these treatments. Pregnant women will need to wait until after their pregnancy to undergo one of these skin procedures. Plus, certain medications or pre-existing skin conditions may prevent you from qualifying for non-invasive skin tightening. Consult with your doctor to determine if any of these concerns apply to you.

Will skin tightening affect your tattoos?

When it comes to gaining or losing weight, many people worry that their tattoos will warp with their changing skin. This is certainly a potential side effect of extreme weight change. But can the same thing happen to a tattoo through non-invasive skin tightening?

Thankfully, the changes in your skin following this treatment may look dramatic, but the actual movement of the skin is minimal. Tattoos in the treated areas shouldn’t show any noticeable signs of warping, stretching, or other changes. In fact, smoother skin on and around the tattoo might actually improve its appearance.

Before undergoing non-invasive skin tightening, always ask your doctor about any tattoos near the treatable area. The tattoo shouldn’t be harmed by the tightening itself. However, some lasers and other non-invasive treatments can have undesirable effects on the ink itself. Your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon will be able to determine if this side effect is a concern for you and your chosen treatment type.

How Much Does Skin Tightening Cost?

The price of a skin tightening treatment greatly depends on your geographical location, the size of the treated area, and your chosen treatment method. Many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are happy to provide a cost estimate when you visit them for a consultation. Unfortunately, since these procedures are considered cosmetic in nature, insurance won’t cover them. Therefore, you should expect to pay the full cost out-of-pocket.

Ultherapy, the popular ultrasound treatment option, can cost up to $5,500 for a full face and neck treatment in areas with a high cost of living. Smaller treatment areas and geographical locations with lower costs of living can go as low as $750 to $2,500. Refirme, which uses IPL and RF wavelengths, is considerably cheaper. These treatments cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,800, with the average treatment costing around $525.

Where Should You Go for Skin Tightening?

patient consulting a dermatologist

Like any medical procedure, you should always visit a licensed medical doctor for non-invasive skin tightening. The best doctors for a procedure like this include dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. Even though no surgery is actually involved in skin tightening, proper application is still necessary to prevent burns, scarring, and other negative side effects.

Even if you think you can get a better deal, you should avoid unreputable medi-spas and salons that offer laser or ultrasound treatments. While there’s a chance that your treatment will be overseen or administered by a doctor, you’re more likely to find yourself in the hands of an unlicensed, untrained member of their staff. If something goes wrong during your procedure, this individual doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to prevent and treat issues as they arise. Don’t put your skin’s health and appearance at risk by going to a cheap spa. Instead, always choose a licensed medical doctor for this and related treatments.

What Are the Side Effects of Skin Tightening?

These skin tightening procedures are non-invasive, meaning they don’t require any type of surgery. However, they are not entirely risk-free. Most negative side effects can be attributed to improper treatment. But they are still potential risks that you should consider when deciding if this procedure is right for you.

Even though most people go right back to their daily life after undergoing non-invasive skin tightening, there are some normal side effects that you can expect. These include swelling, redness, and bruising at the sight of treatment. These side effects are completely normal. However, if they worsen or persist for a long period of time, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for further information.

Outside of these common side effects, there are some long-term or permanent effects that can result from a skin tightening treatment. If you see any of these side effects after your procedure, contact your doctor immediately. While these side effects can be temporary and harmless, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Skin tightening that utilizes a laser, like Refirme, can result in skin discoloration in the treated area. The same damage that triggers additional collagen production can also trigger melanin, the compound that gives skin its color.

Patients with darker skin have a greater risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) or hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin). Evidence also points to certain post-treatment techniques increasing the risk for this side effect. Potential side effects caused by discoloration may fade over time or be permanent.

Burns and scarring

Some non-invasive laser procedures heat the skin to help encourage collagen and elastin production. However, if these procedures aren’t administered correctly, they can burn the skin. While most burns will heal over time, severe burns could leave behind scarring that will never completely fade.

The best way to prevent this serious side effect is to only go to a licensed dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for your skin tightening treatments. An experienced doctor or nurse will know how to properly administer the treatment without burning your skin. This might not be true at an unlicensed spa or salon.

Allergic reactions

woman with allergy

In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction following a skin tightening procedure. These reactions might result from topical products used during the treatment or the device itself. Allergic reactions have been reported following tattoo removal and laser hair removal, so this side effect isn’t exclusive to skin tightening procedures.

Luckily, these reactions typically don’t last long and will not return as long as you don’t return for more skin tightening treatments in the future. Ask your doctor about the best over-the-counter medications to take and other recovery instructions you should follow to minimize your symptoms.


Numbness of the treated area can occur following ultrasound, radiofrequency, or laser skin tightening. This side effect isn’t too surprising considering that these tightening treatments work by causing slight damage to the deeper layers of the skin.

Most post-treatment numbness rectifies itself within a few days. If your numbness persists, though, make sure to contact your doctor. Nerve damage could have occurred during the treatment and should be addressed right away. While there are no current studies on this occurring after a skin tightening procedure, it has been documented following other non-invasive cosmetic treatments.

Will You Transform Your Body With Skin Tightening?

The side effects listed above are real risks to consider before undergoing any of these skin tightening procedures. But they pale in comparison to the potential dangers of a surgical facelift. If you have your heart set on treating your sagging or wrinkled skin, then non-invasive skin tightening is generally the safest option. However, you should always consult with a trusted, licensed doctor before choosing to undergo one of these procedures.

Of course, your other option is to simply embrace the aging process. As well as the changes in your skin that come along with it. Society might seem to prefer youthful-looking skin, but beauty is fleeting and subjective. If you choose to feel happy and empowered with your natural skin, this confidence will radiate from within. Whichever path you choose, it is your body and you should do whatever makes you feel best.

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