How to remove tattoos, scars, red dots and brown spots

Woman getting tattoo removed

If you have an embarrassing tattoo from years ago, it might not be as permanent as you'd think. Dermatologists can give you impressive results by combining the powerful effects of lasers and your own immune system. This type of treatment also works well for scars, red dots and brown spots.

“The neat thing about almost any laser treatment is that your own immune system does a lot of the work,” says dermatologist Ronald Sulewski, MD, the director of laser and aesthetic dermatology. Here's how it works for tattoos. First, the laser targets the colored pigments under the skin and breaks them into smaller and smaller particles. Once the particles are separated from the skin, your body's immune system works to remove the tattoo pigments. “For multicolored tattoos, we use different lasers to target the different pigments,” says Dr. Sulewski.

Because your immune system is what's clearing the pigment, you won't see the effects immediately. Sometimes it takes a few weeks and multiple treatments to remove the tattoo, scar or blemish.

In the nearly 10 years that Dr. Sulewski has performed laser treatments, the technology has improved, meaning fewer side effects for patients. Some less intense skin treatments include chemical peels and microneedling. For lines or wrinkles, dermatologists sometimes use skin resurfacing instead. It's important to consult with a dermatologist to determine the right skin treatment to address your concerns.

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