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  • Writer's pictureZak Lockhead

Can anyone have Tattoo Removal?

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

You’re all ready to finally get that awful tattoo removed. But what about if you’re not suitable for tattoo removal? Don’t worry, most people are eligible for this treatment, however there are a few exceptions. To help, I have written this article to discuss who is and who isn’t suitable for laser tattoo removal.

Skin type

‘Can laser tattoo removal completed on darker skin types?’ is a very well asked question in this industry. In my personal opinion, no and I only recommend that laser tattoo removal is completed in individuals with Skin types I to IV (please see below for skin type chart). Now this may be controversial, as I have seen many laser technicians advocate that tattoo removal can be completed in anyone, regardless of skin colour! However, I believe the risk of hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation is greater in those with darker skin types and I have seen many cases of this occurring. One of the main problems with hypopigmentation/hyperpigmentation is that it can also be permanent and I think the risk of this occurring far out-weighs the reward of successfully removing a tattoo!

Fitzpatrick scale for laser tattoo removal and IPL
Fitzpatrick scale for laser tattoo removal

Clinical studies have also demonstrated that darker skin types contain pigment that is a similar to tattoo ink, therefore this may compete with the tattoo ink for absorption of laser light and ultimately make laser tattoo removal treatment much harder.

If you do decide to treat darker skin types, there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation:

  • Longer time between treatment sessions

  • Reduce power output of laser

Hypopigmentation following IPL
Hypopigmentation following IPL


Certain medications can increase the photosensitivity of your skin which increases the risk of burning when exposed to the laser device. If you are taking any of the following medications, do not have laser tattoo removal:

  • Ace inhibitors

  • Anti arrhythmic drugs

  • Interferon

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ie narproxen, ibuprofen

  • Quinones

  • Statins

  • Sulfa drugs

  • Calcium channel blockers

  • St John’s Wort

  • Acne medications such as Roaccutane

  • Antibiotics

This list isn’t comprehensive, so always check with your GP to ensure any medication you take also does not increase the risk of burning


The laser tattoo removal device breaks down tattoo ink into smaller particles and these fragmented ink particles can enter systemic circulation and travel around the body. Thus whilst it is unlikely this would cause harm to the baby, it is strongly advised you do not have laser tattoo removal if you are pregnant.

Lymphatic system laser tattoo
As you can see from this diagram, the lymphatic system runs throughout the whole body

Type of tattoo

Inappropriate pigment type and colour of tattoo (such as green colours) may not be able to be removed and the laser tattoo removal technician may turn you away if this is the case. Now this all depends on the type of the machine used, with advancements in laser technology allowing most colours to be removed.

Finger Tattoo removal
Example of tattoo that is difficult to remove due to its location and pigment


I have listed the most common reasons you may not be able to have laser tattoo removal in this article. However, this list isn't comprehensive and there will be other conditions. If you have any other medical condition, it is always best to speak to your GP first.

As always, thank you for reading. For all your training and machine needs contact me today for a free consultation.

Dr Lockhead

0113 418 0464


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