types of tattoo removal

Tattoo Removal Explained (Ultimate Guide)

A majority of the time when a person gets a tattoo it’s for the long run, but things can change. Whether you regret an impulse decision or want to make space for a new tattoo, there are seemingly many options out there. However, if you don’t do proper research, you may end up wasting your time and money as well as enduring the lasting effects of a badly removed tattoo.

In this post, we’ll go through various options as well as the essential steps and considerations of getting a tattoo removed. Let’s review some common ink erasure methods and highlight why you should be wary of cheap or unprofessional tattoo removal methods.

Types of Tattoo Removal

Before laser technology was available most people were willing to try anything to remove their unwanted or outdated tattoos, but many of the old-school methods are problematic and can cause real damage. Here are some alternatives to laser treatments and why you should rethink them.

Tattoo Removal Creams

Perhaps the most famous option thanks to its “ease and low cost” are removal creams. Take 5 minutes to do a Google search and you’ll find hundreds of creams on the market. The problem: many are unregulated. While they are inexpensive in comparison to other treatments, it’s well worth the money to have a trained professional handle your removal. Creams often contain bleach and other chemicals that can permanently damage and lighten the area it is applied to.


Saline is often considered to help cover up older, fading tattoos, but it won’t actually remove a tattoo. In the past, some tattoo artists used saline to fade ink by tattooing it into the skin around an existing tattoo. This won’t actually erase ink, but it can aid in lightening it for a cover up tattoo.


A painful method, dermabrasion removes the top layer and dermis layer of the skin with a fast-moving brush. This process is like a very deep exfoliation which can lead to permanent scarring, skin discoloration, and infection (which can cause scarring). This route is not recommended or safe for people with face tattoos or on people who had tattoos done by non-professionals, which may have injected ink into subcutaneous fat.

Chemical Peels

Acid peels, like those used by dermatologists to treat wrinkles and fine lines, are sometimes used to remove tattoos. However, many dermatologists won’t recommend this route as the chemicals don’t go deep enough to be effective and they often require skin treatments for at least a month before to prep the skin. Many companies offer these acids for sale online which is extremely dangerous as they are not recommended or regulated by the FDA and should require professional guidance. This method can lead to chemical burns, scarring, and even infection.

Laser Tattoo Removal

As you can see, the options above can be dangerous and have no promise of being effective. Laser tattoo removal is by far the safest and most effective option to remove your unwanted tattoo. Here are just a few benefits of choosing this method over the rest.

  • Fewer Side Effects: Laser tattoo removal does not affect the skin around your tattoo much, unlike other treatments. Patients also experience little to no scarring or skin damage.
  • Fewer Treatments: The exact number of sessions will be determined by the color, density, age, size, and location of your tattoo as well as your skin tone, but in general most tattoos can be removed in three to seven sessions.
  • Faster Treatments: Laser tattoo removal sessions last between 15 and 30 minutes and typically scheduled six to eight weeks apart. The time between sessions allows your skin to rest, decreasing the likelihood of long-term effects like scarring.

What to Expect

Now that you have an idea of your options and the benefits of laser tattoo removal services, let’s get into the actual process. When you visit MEDermis Laser Clinic you’ll undergo a free consultation to get an idea of how many sessions your tattoo will need, an estimate of the service cost, and a chance to ask any questions you may have.

We have Certified Laser Specialists who have been trained and certified in the best practices for tattoo removal. One of our specialists will guide you through the entire process; starting by answering any questions and then numbing the area to minimize pain during the removal process. Once your session is finished your specialist will give you specific instructions on how to care for the affected area. In general, you should avoid exercising and swimming (for the first 24-48 hours) to promote proper healing. It’s normal to experience redness, swelling, temporary soreness, or blistering but your certified laser specialist will go over in great detail just what to expect and what you should do if things seem out of the ordinary.

Everybody and every tattoo is different, therefore the healing process and results may differ from others. While laser treatment is effective, it may not be perfect and that will depend a lot on certain factors, like where your tattoo is located (tattoos farther down arms and legs are more difficult to remove due to poorer circulation in these areas) and the color of the ink—while black ink on lighter skin tones are fairly simple to remove, green and purple inks on any skin tone are challenging.

If you want to get the most out of your laser removal treatment, proper aftercare is crucial. Your laser specialist will run down the list of to-do’s and what to avoid, but some generally good practices include: eating healthy and implementing immune-boosting foods and Vitamin C during treatments, regular and proper cleaning care of the affected area, avoiding stress, and cutting back on smoking, which can lower the effectiveness of laser removal up to 70%! By putting these actions into practice you’ll keep your body healthy, safe, and in the best shape to undergo a quick and successful recovery.

Our Technology

We utilize the most advanced technology to ensure our patients get the results they’re looking for. With the Spectra laser system by Lutronic, we’re able to remove even the most stubborn of tattoos with little to no risk of scarring or pigment changes. The Spectra laser delivers light at a high energy onto the skin for a fraction of a second repeatedly to break the tattoo down into particles. After this your body’s natural healing process removes broken-down pigments over time!

The Importance of Professional Service

We hope we’ve convinced you why you should avoid creams, chemical peels, and other unsafe and ineffective removal methods, but the same can be said for laser removal services. Unless you go to a certified specialist, you may be doing more harm than good.

When it comes to operating advanced technology, like lasers, you want someone with experience. All it takes is one blister that doesn’t heal properly and you’ll be left with a scar or an infection. An experienced technician will take their time and make your health and safety a top priority.

We Can Help!

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get rid of or fade an unwanted tattoo, we are here to help! With over 12 years of experience and over 300,000 removals, we are proud to offer up to a 98% ink clearance rate. The MEDermis Laser Clinic team is the most experienced removal staff in Austin and San Antonio that can remove your tattoo as easily as possible, without damaging your skin. We operate just like any other healthcare facility and ensure our Spectra lasers are serviced once per year so that we can provide a safe, sanitary, and consistent treatment and environment for our clients.

You don’t have to take our word for it—we have proof! Take a look through our gallery and see the before and after photos or read our client reviews!

Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about how many sessions you’ll need and what to expect in the process. You can fill out our simple online consultation form or give us a call at 210-402-4030 for the San Antonio office or 512-637-5277 for the Austin office.