The FDA says the safest way to remove a tattoo is with 6-10 laser surgery treatments over several weeks by a trained dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal.
Other methods include dermabrasion, a painstaking process that involves “sanding” off the top layer of skin over several months, or excision, which cuts off the tattoo and stitches the skin back together.
Looking for an alternative?
Be aware that the FDA has not approved any do-it-yourself tattoo removal creams you can buy online. These products may also have unexpected side effects like skin rashes, burning, scarring, or skin color changes.
According to FDA dermatologist Dr. Markham Luke:
FDA has not reviewed [tattoo removal creams], and is not aware of any clinical evidence that they work. If you have any concerns about having a tattoo removed, it’s a good idea to consult your dermatologist, who is knowledgeable about laser treatments”
Laser treatment side effects may include short-term pinpoint bleeding, redness, or soreness. The pain is described like being snapped by a rubber band or burned by bacon grease, according to the FDA. Unfortunately, complete removal without scarring may be impossible.