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What is laser tattoo removal?

Laser tattoo removal is a simple procedure that uses a special laser (a high-intensity beam of light) to safely remove tattoos that a person no longer wants. The darker, contrasting colors used in a tattoo absorb the wavelengths of the laser, effectively breaking its colors into fragments, while protecting the surrounding skin, which doesn’t absorb the laser due to the contrast differences.

Throughout treatments, your tattoo gets progressively light and lighter until it eventually disappears altogether. Mild discomfort should be expected, though far less discomfort than was experienced in getting the tattoo. The procedure is best done under the care of a doctor with the latest, superior equipment and deep discounts should typically be avoided, as burning and scarring can occur if the procedure isn’t done correctly.

The latest technology for laser tattoo removalin San Diego

Earlier methods of removing tattoos weren't effective or appealing: dermabrasion, saltabrasion and Argon or CO2 lasers left unsightly scars in place of the tattoo. The Q-Switched laser changed that. The "Q-Switched Nd:YAG" laser is the laser of choice in tattoo removal and it allows for the removal of most tattoo inks with a very low risk of scarring. The laser can significantly lighten or fully remove a wide variety of tattoo ink colors and types. Laser Clinique provides laser tattoo removal in San Diego and La Jolla, with some of the most natural looking results currently attainable.

Laser Tattoo Removal Before & After

Images of before and after laser tattoo removal on a patient's wrist Laser tattoo removal before & after on a patient's hip

Laser Tattoo Removal Cost

The cost of a single laser tattoo removal session may range from a few to several hundred dollars. The precise cost of the treatment may depend on the size of the tattoo and the treatment area. The number of sessions also depends on the size of the tattoo, so the overall cost of tattoo removal is entirely dependent on your tattoo’s size.

How does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

Laser hair removal uses a powerful burst of light energy that targets and gets absorbed by the darker pigments of the tattoo. The powerful light shatters the inks or pigments or the tattoo, which are then flushed away naturally by the body’s lymphatic system.

With this, the laser system used leaves the surrounding skin unharmed, while safely and effectively removing the tattoo. While complete tattoo removal can be difficult to attain in certain cases, tattoo removal treatments have significantly improved over the years and are now better than ever.

As detailed above, the laser focuses on the darker and more pigmented areas of the skin and surroundings. This also means that laser tattoo removal tends to be a bit less effective in fully removing a tattoo for people who have darker skin, or tattoos of multiple colors, yet significant reduction is still very possible. At Laser Clinique, we specialize in provide the very best we can in tattoo removal San Diego.


Three images showing the progression of laser tattoo removal treatment results on a woman's back

Tattoo Removal options at Laser Cliniqúe


1. Fading for Covering Up Tattoo

If you have a tattoo that you would like to have covered with another tattoo, then fading the current tattoo will prove beneficial. The existing tattoo won’t fade completely, but it will be light enough that your tattoo artist can cover it easily with a tattoo of your choice.

2. Accident or Trauma Tattoo Removal

Accidental and traumatic tattoos are common in people who have been victims in a vehicular accident. There are many substances that can create a traumatic tattoo — asphalt, sand, grass, etc. The tattoo forms when a foreign substance penetrates the skin and the skin itself heals over the substance. Tattoo removal can greatly reduce the appearance of accidental tattoos in as little as one to two treatments.

3. Partial or Custom Tattoo Removal

Are you interested in changing the appearance of your tattoo, such as the removal of a name? If this sounds similar to a goal you are striving to reach, then partial tattoo removal is an excellent option. Instead of removing the entire tattoo, the lasers will only treat the specific parts you want gone. This option is also ideal for tattoos that are distorted, too large or have too much shading.

4. Eyebrow Tattoo Removal

Many people have second thoughts after getting their eyebrows tattooed. Fortunately, even though this tattoo is a form of permanent makeup, it can be removed. Not everyone is a candidate for eyebrow tattoo removal, so it is through a thorough assessment that we can determine whether or not you are a good fit.


Before and after images of a man who had laser tattoo removal on his chest

San Diego Laser Tattoo Removal Gallery

Tattoo Removal FAQ's

What type of tattoos can be removed?

Our lasers can remove any sort and style of tattoo, from amateur to professional and from brand-new to decades old.

How many treatments will it take to remove a tattoo?

Professional tattoos typically require 6-9 treatments for removal. Amateaur tattoos can be removed with 1 or 2 treatments. Because the laser breaks down the tattoo for it to be flushed away by your body, these treatments are spaced six to eight weeks apart, allowing your body to work its magic between sessions.

Ultimately, the number of treatments you require will depend on how much of what type of ink was used, and how deeply the tattoo was done. There are a couple of helpful pointers:

  • Older tattoos can be removed in less treatments than newer tattoos.
  • Darker color inks (black, dark blue, red) are easier to remove than lighter color inks (pink, purple, orange).
  • Removing yellow and green inks typically requires the most treatment sessions
  • Because the treated ink particles need to be flushed out of the body, areas of the body that have better circulation require less treatment sessions than areas of poorer circulation: The arms, legs and torso typically require less treatments than the fingers, toes, ears and nose.

Does the laser remove colored tattoos?

Dark (blue, black) and red inks will resolve the best. Oranges and purples usually fade as well. Green and yellow inks are the most difficult to remove, and additional treatments are needed to produce significant fading.

Will the tattoo completely disappear?

Greater than 80-90% fading of the tattoo may be accomplished. However, it is important to know that there are numerous types of tattoo inks in use worldwide today, none of which are regulated by the FDA. Not knowing which tattoo ink was used, or how deeply it was applied, makes it impossible for our founder and physician P. Alexander Ataii M.D. to predict the total level of success on any given tattoo. You will need repeated sessions to lighten the tattoo, and it may not be possible to completely remove all the ink. Bright, multicolored tattoos are the most difficult to remove and frequently require the most sessions.

Is the laser tattoo removal process painful?

The laser emits light in very short pulses. The impact of the energy from the powerful pulse of light is similar to the snap of a small rubber band on the skin. The majority of patients do not require anesthesia, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. Injectable anesthesia and anesthetic creams are available if needed.

Many patients find that the feeling with San Diego tattoo removal is similar to or slightly more comfortable than getting a tattoo. One major difference is that a laser tattoo removal treatment can be done in much less time than a tattoo application.

How does the body remove the ink that has been broken down by the laser?

When the laser breaks down the tattoo ink, the body’s immune response will send fluid to the area to flush the ink away. There will probably be some swelling and redness in the area. Small ink particles will be naturally flushed from the body over a period of days, weeks, or months.

What side effects are common with this procedure?

After a laser treatment, most patients will experience some swelling, redness, and minor blistering of the skin. This is temporary and the skin will heal. Dr. Ataii will provide detailed aftercare instructions to assist you after your treatment.

Does laser tattoo removal cause scarring?

The frequent scarring caused by older tattoo removal methods is now a thing of the past. Modern lasers and state-of-the-art technology have greatly minimized the risk of scarring with this procedure.

What type of post-treatment care is necessary?

A restorative ointment and a dressing can be applied to the area immediately after treatment for up to one week. Occasionally, there will be pinpoint bleeding and blistering associated with the treatment. The treated area should be kept clean. Follow your physician’s instructions exactly as to what to do during the days following the procedure. A shower can be taken the next day, although the treated area should never be scrubbed. If a scab forms it is vital that you do not pick it or scratch it.

How do I get started?

P. Alexander Ataii M.D. and his staff will be happy to discuss this procedure with you. Please feel free to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss your specific needs. Our med spa delivers some of the best laser tattoo removal San Diego has to offer.

Medlite Laser Tattoo Removal at Laser Cliniqúe

Meet Dr. Ataii

Medical Director of Laser Cliniqúe

P. Alexander Ataii M.D. is the Medical Director and Founder of Laser Cliniqúe in San Diego. He is a skilled skin care specialist who focuses on all aspects of the skin both diagnostic and cosmetic.

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