It is always best to perform a test spot when a patient has a skin type which might respond poorly to PicoSure laser tattoo removal. Patients with darker skin or those with a history of keloiding should approach laser tattoo removal with extreme caution due to the very real possibility of permanent hypopigmentation.
The color of skin is classified using the Fitzpatrick skin types scale from I-VI, with I being the lightest and VI being the darkest. Most African Americans fall into the V & VI range while a Caucasian blonde with blue eyes who burns easily might be a I or II skin type. When skin is very light the laser passes through it harmlessly and all of the energy of the pulse is absorbed by the tattoo pigment which is instantly vaporized and shattered in response to the PicoSure PressureWave. The laser cannot pass through darker skin because its melanin is acting as a protective barrier to shield the tissue from UV radiation or sunlight. If a laser makes contact with melanin it may cause permanent hypopigmentation. Because of this, I do not treat skin types V & VI without careful consideration. The risk for poor clinical outcomes is far too high.
For all other patients, I exclusively utilize the PicoSure laser and the clinical results and outcomes are quite striking. Thankfully, the majority of tattoos can be safely and effectively removed, leaving the skin looking as though it had never been inked. The PicoSure laser is gentle on the skin, decreases the possibility of unwanted side effects and is proven to be more effective than Q-switched lasers. However, each patient is unique and no set of treatment regimens work the same on all people. This is why, when in doubt, a test spot must be performed at no cost to the patient. If you have an unwanted tattoo but are concerned about your skin type and its response to the laser 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.