Can black individuals safely remove tattoos? The short answer is that it’s unlikely the cosmetic result would be acceptable. The risk for permanent hypopigmentation is directly proportional to the client’s skin tone – the darker your skin, the greater your risk. Skin types I and II (very light skin with blue or green eyes) have the lowest risk. Skin types III and IV have a moderate risk and skin types V and VI (African Americans) have the highest probability that their skin will become permanently lighter.
Whenever I consult with a black client I inform them that their risk of being permanently hypopigmented from tattoo removal is greater than fifty percent. This is because melanocytes are damaged in the process and after multiple treatments it’s highly likely that their skin will lose it’s color. Additionally, black skin effectively blocks the laser from reaching the ink, which means even more treatments than normal might be required. In the future, perhaps tattoos in darker skin types will be treated beneath the skin. For example, the Smartlipo laser, which I also train physicians on, has a 1064 wavelength that pulses directly under the dermis during liposuction. Hypothetically, that could remove a tattoo from below, sparing the melanocytes.
One other option besides removal is fading for a cover up as this only requires two or three PicoSure Laser treatments. To reduce your risk of side effects, please do not use a POS q-switched laser. However, if the cover up turns out badly then you’re back to square one so find the best artist you can afford. If you want to speak to me directly please call Austin Medspa at 512.479.9997.