Great question! As I discuss in my book “Understanding Cosmetic Laser Surgery” multi-colored tattoos like this one may require the use of two or more laser wavelengths for complete clearance. Because the FDA does not regulate tattoo inks, it can be difficult to predict exactly how well tattoo inks will respond to treatment with a given laser wavelength.

Your tattoo includes blue, green, orange and black colors. Black is the only ink color that is treatable by all the available laser wavelengths that are used in tattoo removal. The blue color is likely to respond to 1064 nm laser energy but may also respond to 755 nm. Sometimes blue and green inks are mixed together and, if treated with 1064 nm, this color will transition to green as the blue component fades (green does not respond to 1064 nm).

The green color should respond very well to 755 nm laser energy. Orange responds somewhat like red and is usually treated with 532 nm, a wavelength that is usually available from lasers that primarily produce the 1064 nm wavelength. Sometimes yellow ink is mixed in with the orange color; yellow can be difficult to treat but if it persists may not be too noticeable because it is often similar to normal skin tones.

Your tattoo will likely need all three of these wavelengths: 1064 nm and 532 nm (Nd:YAG laser) and 755 nm (Alexandrite laser). Newer versions of these lasers operate in the picosecond range, with ultra-short pulse durations that produce more effective clearance of tattoo ink particles. Ideally, you should be treated at a comprehensive laser center that has picosecond lasers such as the PicoSure and the PiQo4 that produce laser energy at all three of these wavelengths.

Robert Langdon, MD,GuilfordDr. Langdon, The Langdon Center