Laser Tattoo Removal

Tattoos do not need to be permanent. When performed by a skilled professional, tattoo removal can be a safe and effective medical procedure.

Tattoo being removed in a medical facility

Our Approach

Tattoo removal through University of Iowa Health Care is performed by an experienced physician assistant under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist.

When it comes to removing your tattoo, our care team will consider:

  • How long you've had the tattoo
  • Colors in your tattoo
  • Where the tattoo appears on your body
  • Color of your skin
  • Your overall health

Laser Tattoo Removal

Laser technology is most commonly used in tattoo removal. Using a laser helps ensure:

  • Safe lightening of tattoos with a low risk of side effects, such as burning or scarring of skin
  • Efficient removal or lightening of tattoo ink with the fewest amount of treatments
  • Removal of all tattoo inks—from dark tones to bright colors
  • Treatments that fit every individual's unique skin type

Laser tattoo removal generally does not require anesthesia. Our care team uses laser technology to lighten tattoo ink with minimal pain or discomfort, and with results that exceed alternative or do-it-yourself tattoo-removal methods.

What to Expect During Tattoo Removal

Lasers eliminate tattoos by breaking up the pigments in tattoo ink with short but strong pulses of high-intensity light. These pulses of light pass through the top layers of skin and are absorbed by the tattoo ink pigment only. The pigment particles are then naturally absorbed by the body’s own immune system.

Tattoo removal typically involves several treatments. Smaller tattoos require fewer pulses from the laser, while large tattoos will need more pulses to break down the pigments. A laser-treated tattoo should gradually fade with each treatment.

The exact number of laser treatments will depend on the tattoo’s size, location, depth, and color. In general, tattoos applied by amateurs are easier to remove and require fewer treatment sessions than tattoos applied by professional tattoo artists.

Care Team

Physician Assistant, Dermatology