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August 30 2014

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Dr. McDaniel Spells It Out, In Permanent Ink

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. The following query was culled from a private stock, but we’ll be accepting readers’ questions soon.

I got a tattoo when I was “young and stupid” and am now considering laser tattoo removal. How effective is this procedure and do I have options? Is there a chance that the tattoo may still be slightly visible? What about the potential for scarring?

Laser removal of tattoos can be highly effective and safe when performed properly by an experienced laser surgeon. In the best cases, no evidence of the tattoo and no scarring will occur; this is particularly true with some of the amateur, India ink tattoos. The technique as well as the type and color of pigment used by the tattoo artist has a big impact on successful removal. Tribal art or the graphic calligraphy type of tattoos take more treatments due to the amount of ink, and certain colors—some greens, yellows, and oranges—can be very difficult to remove completely. Some types of white or brownish red tattoos can actually turn dark black with laser treatment, in which case multiple treatments are required and the time and expense can be substantial—especially for larger pieces. Also, skin of color can be more problematic to treat as some tattoo removal lasers also damage the skin pigment. There is a new ink being developed, however, called Freedom 2 , which could be revolutionary in allowing tattoos to be easily removed later in life.

With over 20 years of clinical experience in cosmetic laser surgery and dermatology research, David H. McDaniel, MD, is board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology, an assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and the director of the Institute of Anti-Aging Research. Dr. McDaniel is also a sought-after consultant for cosmetic and drug companies regarding skincare products and cosmeceuticals.

Photo: Steven Torres

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