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How Can I Remove My Permanent Tattoo Without Laser?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Laser tattoo removal is the most common way to get rid of a tattoo. However, it is not always effective – lasers can only work well on darker hues while lighter tattoos would take more sessions for the pigment to completely vanish.

So are there other ways to remove a permanent tattoo without using a laser? There are a few options to choose from: surgical removal or dermabrasion. There are also tattoo removal creams available in the market, as well as some DIY solutions to make at home, but they might bring more harm than good.

“Laser-less” Options to Remove Your Permanent Tattoo

While there are a variety of tattoo removal methods without laser usage that can remove permanent tattoos, it’s important to consult a doctor to find out which is the best treatment. If laser treatment is out of the question, consider the following procedures instead:

Surgical Removal

Also known as excision tattoo removal without laser, surgical tattoo removal methods cut off the tattooed skin without laser usage. It is the most invasive tattoo removal method. To close the wound, the remaining skin is sewn back together.

The major problem with surgical removal is that it leaves tattoo scars after the procedure. This kind of tattoo removal without laser usage is also only ideal for small tattoos. After the surgery, the skin might feel tight. The doctor can prescribe application of moisturizing lotions or sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher to relieve discomfort.


Dermabrasion works by “sanding” the upper layers of the skin. With the help of a rapidly rotating disc scraping off a layer of the skin, the ink particles leach out. Depending on the size, layers, and colors of the tattoo, dermabrasion can remove permanent tattoos.

One downside of this treatment is that the results vary greatly depending on the individual involved in the procedure. People with sensitive skin or other skin conditions are not recommended to choose this treatment. It’s also not recommended for dark-skinned individuals because they are at great risk of pigment change.

Removal Cream

One more way to remove a tattoo without surgery or laser is by using tattoo removal creams. They are widely used because they are inexpensive. However, there is no evidence that these products completely remove a tattoo. At best, they only help the tattoo fade. Removal creams can also irritate sensitive skin, so it is not recommended for use.

Home Remedies

Many people use salt as a common treatment for exfoliation purposes. Use it to scrub the tattoo, but be careful not to overdo it and accidentally hurt yourself. It can also be mixed with lemon juice: soak a piece of cotton with the salt and lemon juice mixture and dab it over the tattoo for around 30-60 minutes. Rinse it with warm water.

The idea of cheap and DIY alternatives at home seem tempting, but there is no evidence proving these solutions can remove a tattoo completely or even just fade the ink by a little.

Removing Tattoos at Home

For anyone who doesn’t have the time – or the money – to visit a clinic and have their tattoos professionally removed, DIY solutions are worth a try. But they couldn’t be more wrong: most of the time, these seemingly cheaper alternatives bring more harm than good.

Here are some of the absolutely ineffective home remedies to watch out for:

  • Salabrasion – peels a thin layer of the epidermis by rubbing salt at the skin’s surface. It can lead to scarring and extreme pain.
  • Yogurt and aloe vera – are not dangerous for the skin, but they’re not effective in removing tattoos either.
  • Sand – is meant to mimic dermabrasion. But there is no evidence that sand can help remove the tattoo pigment.
  • Lemon juice – is known to lighten the skin. But like any natural ingredient in this list, there is no evidence that lemon can remove ink particles on the skin. This acidic solution can produce rashes on the skin if exposed to the sun.
  • Salicylic acid – is an exfoliating agent that removes dead skin cells. However, this only works on the surface of the skin. It cannot reach deep enough to penetrate the tattooed layer of the dermis.
  • Glycolic acid – is more potent than the previous acid, but similarly, it can only reach the epidermis. That makes it useless in removing the tattoo completely.

Tattoo removal without laser usage is a complicated process that should only be performed by trusted professionals to avoid severe skin damage. As of now, laser treatment is the safest and most effective way to remove an unwanted tattoo.

Laser Tattoo Removal vs Other Alternatives: Which is Better at Removing Permanent Tattoos?

Before choosing a procedure that can remove permanent tattoos, it’s also helpful to look at the advantages and disadvantages of other alternative treatments:

Laser Tattoo RemovalIt is an FDA-approved tattoo removal method that’s also cost-effective and safe.Some tattoo colors are harder to remove than others and might require more sessions.
Surgical RemovalIt is the cheapest option out of the three and it can remove the tattoo completely within one session.It causes tattoo scarring, so it is only ideal for smaller tattoos.
DermabrasionIt is completed in around an hour and you won’t have to come back for additional sessions.It might not be ideal for people with sensitive skin.


All three procedures have a different approach when it comes to removing the ink particles on the skin. Among them, laser tattoo removal is the least invasive – it only utilizes pulses that break up the ink particles into pieces small enough to be flushed out by the body.

Dermabrasion is the next one in terms of invasiveness – it sands the upper layer of the skin with a rapidly rotating disk so that the ink can escape from the skin. Lastly, surgical removal – the most invasive treatment –  works by removing the tattooed skin altogether. The doctor then sews the remaining skin to close the wound.


Anyone who opts for surgical tattoo removal without laser usage can experience scarring. For dermabrasion and laser removal patients, scars will only develop if the patient isn’t careful with aftercare.


It’s important to consider your budget first before selecting which treatment will be worth it. Out of the three prescribed procedures, surgical removal is the cheapest at $150 to $350. Next is the laser tattoo removal at a national average of $463, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Dermabrasion is a bit expensive – it can cost up to several thousands of dollars.

What Makes Laser Tattoo Removal Method the Best Choice?

If you are searching for a sure way to remove a permanent tattoo, laser treatment is the best option right now. It is a minimally invasive method that utilizes a laser in breaking down the tattoo ink particles into microscopic pieces. After that, the immune system naturally rids the body of these foreign particles..

The laser also targets specific tattoo pigment, so that the other colors are unaffected during a session. This method also minimizes the risks that usually accompany surgical methods, such as bleeding and infection at the target site.

Explore Tattoo Removal Options at Ethos Spa

Here at Ethos Spa, we will help you remove the unwanted tattoo without much fuss using the gold standard in the tattoo removal industry – the PicoSure laser system. What sets it apart from the other lasers in the market is that it can safely remove any color tattoo from the skin.

We at Ethos Spa are experienced in assisting our tattoo removal patients with the right care they need. Don’t struggle to remove your tattoo without laser treatment; schedule your laser appointment today.

Learn more: How to Prep for Laser Tattoo Removal

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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