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Can Permanent Makeup Be Removed?

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Updated January 14, 2009

Question: Can Permanent Makeup Be Removed?
Answer:

In theory, it is possible to remove permanent makeup. However, many doctors refuse to perform laser tattoo removal on patients with these types of cosmetic tattoos. First, the colors used in permanent makeup are generally the colors that are hardest to remove, in part because they closely resemble colors found in the skin. Second, some doctors worry about their liability when dealing with an area as important as the face.

Finally, there are special considerations for certain areas of the face. Lip tattoos tend to darken (even turning black) before they resolve, so they will most likely look much worse before they look better. Many patients are unwilling to live with black lips for what could end up being a few months’ worth of sessions before the ink begins to visibly dissipate. It is also possible that the darkening of ink can be permanent. For many patients (and doctors) this risk is hard to swallow.

Even more troublesome than the lips are the eyes. Many doctors feel using a laser near the eye is too much risk to assume for removing eyeliner. Eyebrows are probably the area fraught with the least risk. However, because the colors used in eyebrow tattoos are usually in the brown family, total removal is still challenging.

Return to laser tattoo removal frequently asked questions.

Sources:

Interview with Will Kirby, DO, FACOS - Los Angeles, CA - conducted on November 19, 2008

Multiple Color Changes Following Laser Therapy of Cosmetic Tattoos; Jimenez G, Weiss E, Spencer JM; Dermatol Surg. 2002;28:17717-17719

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