Ask DAA: What Types of Tattoos are Most Difficult to Remove?

what-types-of-tattoos-are-most-difficult-to-removeEveryone makes choices that they come to regret later, but hopefully they’re mostly minor ones. For people who regret their tattoos, there is hope in the form of laser treatments. But understandably, patients want to know what they’re in for before they start. It helps to know that our providers at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta have been treating tattoos for over 25 years with the latest technology, which today includes the advanced PicoWay® and PicoSure® lasers. While everyone’s body responds differently, making it impossible to truly predict the number of treatments a patient will need, there are some factors that do make some tattoos more challenging to remove:


Laser tattoo removal works when the color in the ink absorbs the energy from the laser. Different colors of ink absorb color differently. Specifically, lighter colors like white, yellow, light blue, and pink are the most difficult to remove, as are green, red, and neon colors. White ink (and light colors that were made by combining darker ink with white ink) sometimes turns darker before it begins to fade.

Skin tone

Laser tattoo removal tends to work more quickly on people with lighter skin. Darker skin tends to absorb some of the laser energy that was meant for the tattoo ink (especially when treating red and green ink), and dark skin usually requires milder laser settings to limit side effects. For these reasons, tattoo ink often receives less laser energy in patients with darker skin, so it takes longer to remove. Fortunately, at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, we can use the PicoWay® 1064 wavelength safely for all skin types.

Tattoo age

As most people with tattoos have noticed, ink tends to fade over time. If it’s an old tattoo you want to remove, your body has already done some of the work for you. New tattoos, on the other hand, take longer.

Location of the tattoo

The closer to your heart a tattoo is, the more blood flow goes through that area. While the laser energy breaks down the tattoo ink, it’s your body’s natural response that actually gets rid of the ink. The better your blood flow, the more easily your body can remove the ink. This means that tattoos in areas with lower circulation (like your hands, fingers, and feet) take longer to remove.

How the tattoo was administered

Getting your tattoo from a professional makes the process safer and more successful, but it also makes the tattoo more difficult to remove. Homemade tattoos are usually less deep, so the ink fades faster. Keep in mind, though, that ensuring that your tattoo is safe is much more important than making it easier to remove, so we do not recommend getting an amateur or homemade tattoo. This is just one of many dermatologist-recommended skincare tips on our Dermatology Associates of Atlanta Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.

Tattoo layers

Getting your tattoo modified or touched up with fresh ink can certainly make it look better. The downside, though, is that multiple layers of ink take more treatments to remove than a single layer.


As we mentioned earlier, strong blood flow is crucial for tattoo removal. Smoking hinders your blood flow, so it has a direct effect on the tattoo removal process.

If you have some of the difficulty factors above, don’t worry. At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta and our laser specialty center, The Laser Institute of Georgia, we’re proud to use the most advanced technology available – specialized lasers called PicoWay® and PicoSure®. The combination of the latest technology with our highly experienced and skilled dermatologists and physician assistants means that our patients enjoy successful results in fewer treatments. To get started removing your unwanted tattoo, schedule a consultation at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta.