Tattoos are increasingly popular, but some of my patients have wanted me to remove them. A new job, a bad reminder from the past, or simply a change in taste-  but there are ways to remove your tattoo.

Several options exist for tattoo removal, including

Laser removal

– Physical removal, usually dermabrasion

Surgical removal, and closure of the wound or skin graft coverage

A professionally applied tattoo is done by a machine, and the tattoo ink is embedded in the skin at a consistent level. If you have an inconsistent tattoo artist, an inconsistent machine, or an amateur tattoo, then the tattoo ink is not being placed at the same level, and you may not be a good candidate for laser tattoo removal.

Laser tattoo removal is very popular. You will need a laser of a different wavelength for different colors of tattoo ink. Basically, the laser zaps the tattoo ink within your skin, and the ink is obliterated and absorbed by your body.

You will also probably require several different treatment sessions, since all of the ink can’t be removed in 1 session. A drawback of laser is that not everyone can achieve an excellent result. There will always be a better appearance, but sometimes the tattoo will only appear to be faded, and not completely gone.

Physical removal is removing the skin, usually by dermabrasion, and allowing new skin to grow underneath. This can be done as a procedure in the office or in an operating room setting, depending on your pain tolerance and how large the tattoo is.  Dermabrasion, for lack of a better analogy, is like applying sand paper to your tattoo, removing the tattoo and skin, and causing new skin to grow underneath.   This is usually more consistently successful in removing any trace of the tattoo, but may result in different skin texture and color in the area of your original tattoo.

Tattoo excision with wound closure or skin grafting is also an option. The tattoo is completely removed, and the skin is discarded. If you have a small tattoo, and if the skin around it is relatively loose, then the open wound can usually be closed. If the tattoo is large, and if the skin around it is tight, then you may need a skin graft to completely cover the open wound to achieve healing. Skin grafts will almost always leave a slightly color and texture discrepancy compared to surrounding skin.

Should you desire more information about my available services, or want to schedule an appointment, please contact my Patient Care Coordinator at, or call our office at 415-362-1846.

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