Cosmetic tattoos (permanent makeup), medically known as micro-pigmentation are procedures that have been gaining in popularity in recent years. While some ladies have beautiful results, others have been not quite as lucky. Many people assume that since their makeup was tattooed on that we can use a tattoo removal laser to laser it off. Our answer to them is that it occasionally may work, but in most cases it does not.
Laser removal of tattoos, including permanent makeup, is usually done with a q-switched laser that makes the pigment shatter into tiny particles that are then engulfed by cells in the skin’s immune system. Depending on the color of the pigment, this can occasionally be done. If the color is closer to black then the chance for success is greater. If it is brown, or lighter there is always a chance that the ink can oxidize with treatment and actually become darker. Additionally, it may affect the hair follicle and you may lose hair permanently. If it is red, this would then require many regular treatments to get through this phase. No guarantee can be given, though, that the color will lighten or go away completely.
The risk with treating “permanent” makeup tattoos is that some of the inks used can actually turn black when the laser hits it and the tattoo will look worse. Hair growth is stopped by using non-q-switched lasers as the heat needs to build up in the follicle for the laser to be effective. There are many board-certified dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons who can remove the makeup with a more ablative laser – and we at Inkfree, MD are happy to refer you to one. The most important thing to remember, however is to choose your aesthetician wisely before your eyebrows, eyeliner, or any permanent makeup is done.