How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?Answered by Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre


Surveyed Q&A about Tattoo Removal with specialist medical team from Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre. You asked: How does laser tattoo removal work? Here's what the doctors say.

Do you have a tattoo that you no longer want?

Once we have a tattoo inked on our skin, is it really permanent without any way to remove it at all?

There are misguided claims and myths about tattoo removal, like scrubbing it off with certain chemicals, or applying some plants or herbs to help the tattoo fade away, these don't really work, do they?

This is where laser tattoo removal comes in, but information about the treatment is scarce, or difficult to understand, with the medical jargons and differing opinions by different individual posts from unverified sources.

So I got in touch with the verified medical team of doctors from Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre with a compilation of questions you often ask about laser tattoo removal, because if we're looking for answers, why not get them from the doctors themselves?

You asked, we have the answers.

All information and answers are provided by certified and verified doctors from Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre.

Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre (Kuala Lumpur)


Licensed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, we offer an extensive menu of cosmetic procedures, aesthetic treatments, and health services to enable you to attain your desired perfection – in beauty, health, and wellness. With the expertise of a team of highly skilled specialists, supported by the industry’s leading technologies and world-class facilities, you can be assured of professional guidance and customized treatments towards the desired outcome. Whether you seek the ideal skin, face, body or wellbeing, you need look no further.

  1. Centre of Excellence for Cosmetic Surgery, Aesthetic Medicine and Healthy Aging
  2. Backed by registered and board-certified plastic surgeons
  3. All cosmetic and aesthetic procedures are administered professionally by licensed doctors
  4. Registered with the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) to promote medical tourism
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How possible is it to remove a tattoo completely?

Tattoo removal

When it comes to the question of completely removing a tattoo, some say yes and some say no.

Basically, it actually depends on your skin type, the color of the tattoo, and the type of ink that was being used to ink the tattoo.

Certain tattoos can be completely removed but this might result in the formation of white patches. We call this condition hypopigmentation.

So, prior to any laser tattoo removal treatments, the patient would have to be able to accept the fact that his or her skin will most probably not appear as flawless as before.

So yes, a complete removal of the tattoo ink is possible, but with some side effects to the skin.

How does a laser tattoo removal work?

Laser tattoo removal

Prior to starting a laser tattoo removal treatment, we apply a layer of numbing cream on the treatment area because the treatment procedure may be a bit painful, so a layer of numbing cream is needed to ease the pain for a comfortable treatment session.

After about 30 minutes for the numbing cream to take effect, as we begin the laser tattoo removal treatment, a cooling machine is used to blow out chilled air at the treatment area to relax the skin area and provide comfort for you.

The laser treatment starts by targeting the tattoo ink sitting beneath the skin. The ink will absorb the energy from the laser light and it gets shattered down to millions of tiny ink pieces.

These tiny shattered tattoo ink will then be absorbed by our body immune system and then get excreted from our body naturally.

One thing to note here:

Many people misunderstand that laser tattoo removal is done the same way as when a tattoo is inked on our skin with a gun.

However, in a laser tattoo removal process, the laser handpiece actually doesn't touch the skin. It is held 1-2 inches away from the skin, and the laser beam will penetrate into the skin without any physical contact on the surface.

Hence, the laser in itself does not cause any damage to the skin.

During the treatment, you would feel a sensation like an elastic band repeatedly tapping onto your skin, with the addition of a little heat.

Other than that, the treatment process is pretty smooth sailing, especially with the cool air blowing onto the skin as the treatment goes on.

How long does a laser tattoo removal take?

Tattoo removal duration

The duration of the treatment process depends on the size of the tattoo. Normally it takes about 10-15 minutes for a session of laser treatment.

How many laser tattoo removal sessions do we need?

Usually 6-12 sessions of laser tattoo removal are needed to remove your tattoo completely from your skin.

Will my tattoo disappear immediately?

After a tattoo removal

Immediately after the treatment, you will experience a bit of redness and swelling on the skin. The tattoo ink may also appear whitish or greyish depending on the color of the ink.

These would fade away after some time.

The number of sessions needed for the tattoo to disappear completely depends on a few factors.

Skin type

Tattoo removal skin type

First, we will need to determine your skin type before we start a laser tattoo removal. 

Because for darker skin, we have to use a lower laser setting on the skin. This is because darker skin types has a higher risk of the occurrence of hyperpigmentation. 

But due to this low setting of laser, we will need more sessions for the tattoo to disappear completely.

Tattoo ink

Contrary to popular belief, it is actually easier to remove older tattoos than newer ones.

This is because we remove the tattoo from the surface of the skin. So for older tattoos, the ink has sunk in, and on the surface the ink has faded.

Compared to newly inked tattoos with vivid colors and ink on the surface of the skin, older tattoos can be removed more easily.

Tattoo color

For tattoo colors, black tattoo ink is easier to remove compared to colors like red and green.

Some of us also have multiple layers of tattoo, one on top of another. In cases like this, it will be more difficult, and may take more treatment sessions, to remove the layers of tattoo.

Tattoo location

Tattoo location

The location of the tattoo can also affect the healing process following a tattoo removal treatment.

If the tattoo is located at body parts with low blood supply like our toes and fingers, the recovery is much slower compared to other areas like our back and arms.

After care

How you care for your skin area of tattoo removal after the treatment plays an important role in how effective the tattoo removal is.

Blisters and scab formations are common after tattoo removal. But if you pick or scratch the scab, the recovery period can become longer.

Do take advices from your doctor on the post-care steps to make sure your treatment results undergo optimal recovery.

It is also always important to discuss with your doctor in detail on what your expectation from the treatment is.

Do you want a complete tattoo removal? Or do you want the tattoo to fade off? Or are you planning to cover it up with another tattoo?

If you wish to talk to an experienced aesthetic doctor about your tattoo removal needs , you can send an enquiry to Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre here, and they'll reply you within 3 working days!

Enquire About Tattoo Removal

Is tattoo removal safe?

Is tattoo removal safe

Many beauty centres and unverified centres these days offer laser tattoo removal which may not necessarily be safe.

This is because even though laser machines may be aplenty these days, only those that are FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) approved are safe to use for treatments.

Most lasers that are FDA approved are very specific in their indication. Before undergoing any treatment, always make sure that the clinic is licensed, and that the device or products used by the clinic are FDA approved.

For example, in BWMC, there are 3 different FDA approved machines for tattoo removal - Revlite, Medlite, and Fotona - and they can only be operated by licensed physicians.

Tattoo removal

So make sure you choose the right clinic, the right medical practitioner, and your medical practitioner will help you choose the right laser for your treatment.

Getting a wrong treatment, or if the medical device is mishandled by inexperienced and untrained hands, not only causes the treatment to be ineffective, but can also cause permanent scarring on the treatment area.

Stay tuned as we look into some of the truth and myths of tattoo removal in the next issue!

If you wish to talk to an experienced aesthetic doctor about your tattoo removal needs , you can send an enquiry to Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre here, and they'll reply you within 3 working days!

Enquire About Tattoo Removal

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