What laser tattoo removal side effects should I be aware of?

I've seen lasers that lighten the skin while removing the tattoo, but then the skin swells up bright red and looks awful. For how long does that last, and what other side effects should I expect?


F, 38, Hawaii

Tags:woman age 35-44 side effects laser tattoo removal

The most common side effect is the lightening or loss of skin color where the tattoo was after the surgery, or hypopigmentation. There are even times where there is darker skin in the area. After 6 months to a year you should be completely fine! I read this story once where a girl was panicking after her arm turned really pink after the surgery and she called her surgeon in the middle of the night in tears over what was happening. He was pissed like any other person would be but he told her that it was a natural reaction because the laser gets both colors from the tattoo and normal skin pigment as well. She asked him how long it would take to get back to normal because she had a date that week and he mumbled to give it a couple months and hung up the phone while she continued screaming.

Right after the surgery lots of people comment that they’ve seen symptoms like blisters, swelling and even some bleeding that all usually clear up after a few days. More long term side effects are scarring, infections around the area, burns and sometimes even changes in skin texture.

There are quite a few side effects of having your tattoos removed by laser but most of them will go away with time and more treatments. The biggest side effect is your skin either darkening or lightning which tends to go away within the first year after treatment is completed.

Immediately after treatment, there are a few things that you're going to see. Combined with some pain, when I had mine removed I saw blisters and swelling with the first treatment. I didn't have blisters with the second treatment but I had swelling and my tattoo became darker and raised. The rest of the treatments had swelling and a little bit of bleeding and redness.

All of those things went away over time: however, it did take about 10 treatment to have my tattoo pigment completely removed. I had multiple colors which required different lasers and the piece itself was about the size of my palm. Hope this helps!

All the stuff you mentioned is completely normal in tattoo removal. In fact, the side-effects are good! The skin brightening up is just from the laser itself and usually goes away after about 20 minutes. Now the skin getting red and looking awful is nasty, but it’s actually just how the laser removal healing process works. The blisters will usually by gone within two weeks. You’ll also see some scabs. Make sure you don’t touch them! If you do, it could cause scars. All of those side-effects are typical and they’re just your body healing after removal sessions. There are some rarer side-effects. I was unfortunate enough to experience white patches where my tattoo was. It wasn’t as noticeable as my fully dark tattoo, but it was still there for around a year.

I was afraid of the side effects as well when I was looking into laser tattoo removal. When I talked to the doctor about them, I felt a lot better, so I did decide to go through with it.

The first thing I noticed is what is called frosting. It's where the tattoo ink is oxidizing from the heat of the laser and turns white in the affected area. This went away in just a few hours. Now, something that was annoying, were the blisters. The laser is putting bursts of extreme heat under the skin, so blisters make sense. I mean, they weren't horrible, but really annoying, and they can itch. It took about ten days for them to go away.

I think the most annoying of the side effects was the itching that went with the redness and swelling. It drove me nuts, but the other two went away rather quickly. The redness isn't pretty, but it really is just superficial. The skin irritation kind of reminded me of having an allergic reaction. Just don't scratch the itchies nor pop the blisters. This will mess with the healing and could lead to complications and or needing even more removal treatments.

There are several different types of side effects that you may notice after getting a laser tattoo removal treatment, and each one will affect your skin a different amount of time.

The area where I got the tattoo removed itched like crazy, but as the scabbing healed, the itching lessened. If you can't stand the itchiness, ask the doctor doing the treatment before putting any lotion on it, because scratching and using lotions can impact how well the tattoo is removed in the long run.

Also, there was swelling and redness, but apparently this is just the body's natural reaction while it thinks that there is something actually wrong. My skin only reacted this way for a few hours. I did get a few blisters, and they don't help with the itching, but they only lasted about a week, but don't be surprised if they last a little longer than that.

I was definitely a bit worried about going in for my laser tattoo removal process after seeing all the pictures of the swelling and blisters that can pop up after the laser treatment is applied. Fortunately, these nasty side effects faded quickly for me. My tattoo starting getting all red and blistered in the hours after the treatment, and by the next day, it was looking kind of nasty. The swelling went down within a couple days, but it took a little over a week for the blisters to heal. I also dealt with some darkened skin in the area, which can apparently happen when the body produces too much melanin after skin damage. I had to avoid going in the sun for about a month after treatment to get the hyperpigmentation to go away.