I occasionally have African Americans come to the office wanting tattoos removed or faded using our state-of-the-art PicoSure laser. Unfortunately, I cannot treat these individuals for a couple of reasons (1) the laser cannot pass through their pigment to reach the tattoo ink and (2) the risk of permanent, unsightly hypopigmentation and scarring is in the “extremely high” category. Cynosure has developed a 1064nm wavelength to help in these situations but it’s not right for everyone.
In order for the PicoSure laser to target tattoo ink, it must be able to pass harmlessly through the epidermis, or outermost layer of the skin. In Caucasians this is relatively easy but it becomes more difficult with darker skin tones. If the tanned, pigmented, layer of skin absorbs the majority of the PicoSure laser energy it increases the risk of permanently damaging the skin’s appearance. In the black population this will almost always be the case. I counsel dark-skinned individuals to wait until better technology is available to remove their unwanted tattoos rather than risk the unsightly consequences of permanent scarring and severe hypopigmentation.
There is a chart which classifies the skin types and I have attached it below. I urge all African Americans and others with skin Types V-VI, to refrain from laser tattoo removal. I have seen the damage caused by attempting laser tattoo removal on black skin and believe me it’s not worth it. Although I don’t generally recommend cover up tattoos, this may be a good option if you are black or dark skinned and cannot stand your existing tattoo any longer. If you’d like a free assessment of your chances for PicoSure laser tattoo removal I can be reached by phone @ 512-479-9997 or just stop by my NEW location in Austin, TX: Austin Medspa on W. 6th St.