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Loftus Plastic Surgery Center

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Tattoo Removal

Tattoo Removal Options

On this page, Dr. Loftus explains the various options for tattoo removal and explains why some colors are notoriously difficult to remove.
Many people choose to have decorative tattoos in youth but live to regret this decision. Options for tattoo removal include surgical excision, dermabrasion, and laser, with the latter being the treatment of choice is most cases.
Laser tattoo removal has become the treatment of choice. Laser Tattoo Removal lasers target tattoo ink and rapidly heat it. Heat causes ink to expand and break up into smaller particles. These smaller particles are more easily absorbed by the body. Each treatment will likely cause mild discomfort, similar to a small rubber band snapping against skin. Most patients are able to tolerate the mild discomfort when it is within a small area. When a larger area, like a full arm or back is being treated, the discomfort may interfere with the procedure. Discomfort can be minimized by the use of ice, sedatives, pain medications, or injections of local anesthetic. Talk with your surgeon about ways to minimize the discomfort if this is an area of concern for you.
Each laser targets a different family of colors. To completely remove a family of colors, two to four sessions may be required. Because most tattoos are comprised of multiple color families, several lasers may be required. For example, if three-color families exist in one tattoo, and each family of colors must be targeted three times; a total of nine laser sessions will be necessary. Some tattoos require 15 to 20 laser treatments for complete removal. Many other factors determine the number of treatments necessary.
Tattoos obtained in a tattoo parlor are difficult to remove because professional tattoos are typically deep, dark, and made with complex ink. Homemade tattoos are variable in their difficulty of removal based on the type of ink used and the depth they were placed. New tattoos are difficult to remove because they have a higher concentration of ink than old ones. Older tattoos have a lower concentration of ink because as a tattoo ages, the body absorbs some of the ink. Turquoise tattoos are particularly difficult to remove, because no laser effectively targets that color. Red, white, and flesh colored tattoos are also troublesome, as they may turn black after laser treatment.
The total number of treatments necessary cannot be established with certainty at the outset. The common range is between six and twelve. Treatments may be performed every one to two months or may be spaced over several years. The tattoo will begin to fade one week after each treatment and will continue to fade for several months. Some choose to save money by discontinuing treatments before the tattoo is completely removed. Others pursue laser therapy until there are no detectable signs of the tattoo.
Some people choose to over-tattoo ("cover-art") to hide an undesirable tattoo. This is especially common when the original tattoo contains the name of a former lover. If you have done this, expect that you will have to have even more laser treatments.

Ask Your Plastic Surgeon About These Potential Complications

Bleaching or fading of the skin
Incomplete removal


The typical cost is $100-300 per session. If your tattoo is extensive, expect to pay more. Since five to twenty sessions may be required, the total fee may range from $1,000 to $10,000.
Surgical excision is best employed for small tattoos on loose skin but always leaves a scar.
Dermabrasion involves sanding the skin with a rotating wire brush and may leave a scar or a pale area. There is a possibility that even after several treatments, the tattoo may still be visible. The results seen by dermabrasion depend on how deeply into the skin layers the tattoo ink was injected. The deeper the injection, the less likely that dermabrasion will have good results.

Dr. Loftus by herself

About Dr. Loftus

Dr. Loftus is a female plastic surgeon who is considered a national authority on plastic surgery, having appeared on numerous talk shows as an expert. Her book has become a best-selling book on plastic surgery and has earned her the reputation as a vocal advocate of patient safety, satisfaction, and education in plastic surgery. No wonder her patients have such great things to say about her…
Dr. Loftus and her staff
My results are amazing - Dr. Loftus is amazing!
My friends can't believe how natural I look!
I had no pain after surgery and recovery was so easy.
The entire experience was fabulous!
I am a nurse who has worked with many doctors, Dr. Loftus is the best!
The care was exceptional and results are incredible!
My results are better than I ever imagined!
Dr. Loftus is a rare surgeon: highly skilled, personable and compassionate!
My experience from start to finish was completely extraordinary!
Awesome results from a skilled and caring doctor.
I love love love Dr. Loftus and everyone in the office!
I've never felt so comfortable and understood in a doctor's office.
I felt so comfortable and barely had any pain at all.
I never knew I could look this good! Thank you Dr. Loftus!!!
Never met such a warm and caring staff anywhere else.
If only every doctor could be like Dr. Loftus, how very fortunate we would be.

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TV Appearances of Dr. Loftus

Interview with Local12 WKRC

Dr. Loftus
on Local12 WKRC

Interview with The View

Dr. Loftus
on The View

Interview with The Today Show

Dr. Loftus
on The Today Show

Interview with MSNBC

Dr. Loftus

Interview with Later Today

Dr. Loftus
on Later Today

Interview with Later Today

Dr. Loftus
on Later Today

Interview with CNN

Dr. Loftus
on CNN

Cincinnati: The Christ Hospital2139 Auburn Avenue, Suite 201
Cincinnati, OH 45219
(513) 793-4000
5 minutes from downtown Cincinnati,
At the Christ Medical Office Building

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Northern Kentucky1881 Dixie Highway, Suite 300
Fort Wright, KY 41011
3 minutes from downtown Cincinnati &
visible from I-71/75

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