How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Actually Work?

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Actually Work?

How Laser Tattoo Removal Works

Laser tattoo removal is the safest and most efficient option for tattoo removal. Over the last decade, laser removal clinics have begun popping up in towns all over the country. There’s even one in Witchita for crying out loud!


If you are considering tattoo removal you may be curious as to how the procedure works. This article is a breakdown of the laser tattoo removal process, showing the professional methods at work.

The Basic Removal Process

During the treatment, the technician guides a laser over the area of the tattoo. This burns and shatters the ink particles. The laser rapidly pulsates at a high temperature which breaks up the ink particles settled within your skin. Once this is done, your skin begins to repair itself and flushes the ink out of your system.

The laser that practitioners use in this process is a Q-switch laser or an ultra pulse laser. They deliver a very high-temperature blast at rapid speed. This blast expands the ink particles quickly enough that some of the skin around it remains cool. The combination of hot-cold is what breaks up the ink fragments whilst leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.


The laser works on a scale of picoseconds, a speed that is also crucial to breaking up the ink particles. This process, of photothermolysis, also works with hair removal.

The particles are then taken to the liver by white blood cells. This process takes roughly six weeks. The wait between each appointment gives your body the chance to do its work. It is important to leave enough time for your body to heal after exposure to extremely high temperatures. Rushing a treatment will end in scarred skin.

Removal In-Brief

  • A laser breaks the ink particles in the tattoo
  • As the skin heals the ink particles are flushed away
  • The skin is left to fully heal before each session
  • This process is repeated until the tattoo is no longer visible.

Wavelengths for Tattoo Removal

Popular Wavelengths for Tattoo Removal

The ink that is used for tattoos contains particles that are almost impossible for white blood cells to remove. This is why lasers are required to remove the color from the skin. 

Different ink colors absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light. As a result, most practitioners will alternate lasers depending on which color ink they are targeting. For example, a green laser is excellent for targeting red ink particles but not so good at targeting blue ink particles. 

The majority of tattoos can be removed using a selection of two or three laser sizes: 532, 694, and 1064 nanometres are the most effective (as shown below). There are additional wavelengths used by certain practitioners such as 755 nm – with this laser the process is the same but some consider it more useful for treating rare ink colors such as bright blue.

The Need for Multiple Treatments

As we have mentioned already, the tattoo removal process requires several visits to the table. This includes 5 to 6-week breaks in between appointments. All in all, removing a tattoo can take the best part of a year. 

Multiple treatments are necessary because tattoo ink is difficult to erase and requires more than one treatment session. The ink of a tattoo goes several layers deep into the skin making it impossible for the laser to reach in one shot, especially when you factor in the tissue scarring that would be involved in that much laser contact. It is crucial that the skin has time to heal in order for the removal to be unnoticeable.

Tattoo removal is becoming cheaper, quicker, and more sophisticated than ever before. However, it is still a major surgical process that puts your skin under severe pressure. For that reason, it will never be an overnight quick fix situation. It is also important to remember that it requires the diligent work of trained professionals and as such will always be worth investing in well-respected technicians.

Written by
Peter Smith
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Peter Smith

Peter Smith is a professional writer who has been writing about the tattoo removal industry for the past five years. He also writes on vehicle safety, budget travel, and cultural issues. He lives with his family on the West Coast of America.

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