Tattoo Removal

What is the Fastest Tattoo Removal Method?

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Published: 08.30.2023
Updated: 06.19.2024
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bill Kwan, Dermatologist

If you are considering removing an old tattoo, you want a method that makes ink disappear without damaging the skin. There are a variety of tattoo removal methods, and each carries a different set of risks and timeframe. Truthfully, speed shouldn’t be a significant consideration when deciding how to get rid of unwanted ink. While looking at a regretted tattoo every day can be a pain, quality treatments are better than quick treatments. Let’s dive into the most popular tattoo removal methods to determine which gives you the best chance of getting rid of that bad tattoo forever!

Understanding Tattoo Removal Methods

So you have a tattoo you don’t like and want to get rid of it. Which tattoo removal is the most effective? Let’s review the top four methods people use to erase unwanted ink. After weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can decide which tattoo removal method will work best for you. And finally, let’s answer the question: How long does it take to remove a tattoo?

Laser Tattoo Removal

Laser tattoo removal is the best and most effective way to remove unwanted ink. High-speed pulses of light break apart ink molecules in the skin so that they can be naturally flushed through your immune system. Laser tattoo removal works for all ink colors and the majority of skin tones. Professional laser services can erase a tattoo in as little as three sessions. Schedule a consultation with your local clinic, like Removery, to learn what laser tattoo removal can do for you.

Advantages of Laser Removal

The main advantage of getting laser tattoo removal is that it works! You can see a difference in the visibility of your tattoo in as little as a couple of sessions. In addition, this method works on all skin types and almost every area of the body. Whether you have a black and gray tattoo or a vibrant watercolor piece, tattoo removal lasers can blast away those particles and return your skin to a clean slate.

Disadvantages of Laser Removal

Unfortunately, laser tattoo removal is a lengthy process. While it is incredibly effective, some people don’t have the time to wait months or a year to get their tattoos removed. In addition, this process requires several treatments and can become quite costly.

Surgical Excision

Surgical excision is a more invasive tattoo removal method. A doctor cuts away the inked skin. This tattoo removal method can only be performed in a doctor’s office and requires anesthesia. Only small tattoos qualify for surgical removal. However, this method is the fastest if you need your tattoo removed immediately.

Advantages of Surgical Excision

A doctor cuts your tattoo from your skin, so surgical excision is a quick and immediate solution if you are in a hurry to get rid of unwanted ink. The entire treatment is performed under anesthetic, so it is relatively pain-free. In most cases, it will be completed as an outpatient procedure.

Disadvantages of Surgical Excision

Surgical excisions are rarely covered under medical insurance, so you will need to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket. In addition, expect to have a scar where your tattoo once was. Finally, you will not qualify for a surgical excision if you have a sizable inked piece. Doctors can only remove tattoos they feel confident can be stitched over with the remaining skin.


Dermabrasion involves rubbing away the top layers of skin. This method is ineffective at eradicating tattoos, but it is possible to see some fading after multiple treatments. Unfortunately, dermabrasion is painful. Side effects include irritated skin, inflammation, and possible scarring.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dermabrasion

This tattoo removal method is relatively inexpensive. However, the low price tag is really the only advantage of choosing this option. Dermabrasion comes with a long list of side effects, and in the end, all you’ll get is a faded tattoo and damaged skin.

Chemical Peels

Much like what you’d expect to get from a peeling facial, this tattoo removal method involves applying a chemical solution over your tattoo. It will cause layers of skin to peel away. Unfortunately, chemical peels aren’t strong enough to reach the second layer of skin where ink molecules from tattoos are housed. As a result, this tattoo removal method may fade ink, but it won’t get rid of it completely. Chemical peels are moderately painful and may require a local anesthetic. However, several risks are involved with these procedures, including irritation, redness, and surface burns.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Chemical Peels

There aren’t a lot of advantages associated with choosing a chemical peel to remove your tattoo. It is essentially burning your skin away, so not only are chemical peels pretty painful, but they also pose a risk of scarring and permanent skin damage. Furthermore, if it is misapplied, you put yourself at risk for infection and other serious complications.

Laser Tattoo Removal: The Gold Standard

Laser tattoo removal is unequivocally the best choice for individuals looking to erase old or faded tattoos completely. Removery uses state-of-the-art machines with picosecond lasers, making the tattoo removal process fast and risk-free.

So how does laser tattoo removal work? A laser emits fast pulses of light directly onto the skin. This causes the skin to heat up and break apart ink molecules. The small particles of ink can then easily pass through your immune system as waste. The final result is a truly erased tattoo. Your skin will look like you have never stepped into a tattoo studio!

Q-Switched Lasers vs. Picosecond Lasers

Some tattoo removal clinics use Q-switched lasers for treatments. This type of laser emits photothermal pulses to heat the skin. They require more sessions and a longer recovery time compared to picosecond lasers.

In comparison, picosecond lasers use photomechanical technology to obliterate tattoo ink particles. These lasers are faster and more precise than Q-switched lasers. As a result, your tattoo removal sessions will be shorter and less painful. In addition, picosecond lasers have extremely targeted beams, resulting in less healing time between treatment sessions.

Benefits of Picosecond Lasers

Picosecond lasers are undoubtedly more effective than Q-switched lasers. The main benefits of finding a clinic like Removery that uses this type of equipment are:

  • Shorter, faster pulses that are more precise
  • Lasers pulse at one trillionth of a second
  • Picosecond lasers work on every skin type and ink color
  • Quicker treatment sessions and faster healing
  • Erase tattoos more effectively with less time

Factors That Influence the Speed of Tattoo Removal

Every laser tattoo removal process has a set of individual conditions that affect the speed and efficacy of the procedure. Factors like skin type, tattoo, age, and ink color will influence the speed of tattoo removal. A laser treatment professional will consider all of these conditions during a consultation session. Then, they will provide an estimated timeframe to erase your unwanted ink. However, it is important to keep in mind that while laser tattoo removal is the most effective way to get rid of a tattoo, it is definitely not the quickest. In several cases, returning your skin to a fresh, clean canvas can take a year or more. Technicians will adjust the plan throughout your treatments based on your tattoo removal progress

Tattoo Age

Tattoos naturally fade with time. As a result, older ink is more quickly removed. Comparatively, fresh tattoos may require more laser treatments and longer sessions to achieve the desired result.

Ink Density

Black ink has the largest and densest molecules than colored ink. It takes more laser pulses to break down black ink so that it can flush through your immune system. Consequently, black and gray tattoos or tattoos with heavy black line work will require more laser treatment sessions than fine-line or minimalist pieces.

Tattoo Location

Laser tattoo removal treatments are safe to use on most body areas. However, this removal method is inappropriate for tattoos on the orbital bone.

Tattoo location can also affect how many laser sessions you need to remove your tattoo fully. Different body areas are more sensitive than others and may not withstand long treatment times. However, if your tattoo is in a visible area that is frequently exposed to the sun or washing, like hands or fingers, these tattoos are likely already faded. They can be blasted away with picosecond lasers in just a few sessions.

Skin Type & Color

Lasers focus on darker pigments. As a result, individuals with lighter skin tones can expect to see faster results with laser tattoo removal treatments. However, all skin types can have a successful removal result with laser sessions. Skin with high levels of melanin will require more treatments, especially on black and gray tattoos.

If you have a skin condition, like eczema or psoriasis, it is essential to have a consultation before starting tattoo laser removal treatments. The lasers have a dehydrating effect which can cause excessive itchiness in individuals with skin conditions. It is also important to consult with your doctor to ensure any medications or creams you use regularly are safe to apply after receiving laser treatments.

Ink Colors Used

Laser treatments respond best to contrast. So bright colors and black ink are the easiest for tattoo lasers to focus on. For example, a black ink tattoo on a light skin tone is easy for the lasers to target. In comparison, pastel colors on light skin are more challenging to remove and may require more sessions.

Preparing for a Tattoo Removal Consultation

When it comes to removing tattoos, it’s about safety and effectiveness. While laser treatments take longer than other removal methods like surgical excision, or chemical peels, it is the only solution to completely remove ink without scarring or skin irritation. If you are ready to make an unwanted tattoo disappear from your life, schedule a free consultation with Removery. One of their treatment professionals will evaluate your skin, the location of the tattoo, and the colors used in the artwork. Following the evaluation, you will receive a treatment plan with an estimated number of sessions and the timeframe required to remove your tattoo completely. So if you are ready to say goodbye to the tattoo you no longer enjoy, give Removery a call today.

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Dr. Bill Kwan Dermatologist
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