Tattoo Removal

Consultations offered at our two convenient locations in Alhambra and Santa Ana

Cutera’s Enlighten is a picosecond laser that effectively breaks up ink pigment in the skin to remove unwanted tattoos. With fewer passes than traditional laser treatments, Enlighten’s PICO Genesis treatment utilizes picosecond laser technology to heat embedded pigment while inducing overall skin regeneration and revitalization. In order to heat the targeted pigment enough to break it up, Cutera’s Enlighten has three separate wavelengths that, when combined, can be used to remove black and multi-colored tattoos.

Dr. Hannah Vu of SkinZone Laser and Plastic Surgery takes an artistic approach to cosmetic medicine. Her attention to detail and advocacy of natural results influences her approach to every individual patient. With over 25 years of surgical experience, she is the perfect choice for all your cosmetic and aesthetic needs.

To contact us directly and schedule a consultation with Dr. Vu, call our Alhambra or Santa Ana, CA offices at (626) 329-4555 or (714) 361-1555 respectively.

Before and After Photos

Book your appointment online now for a consultation.

All About Laser Tattoo Removal with Enlighten

In recent years, laser technology and tattoo removal procedures have advanced at an exciting rate. Lasers used for tattoo removal traditionally operate at a nanosecond pulse rate, meaning the laser is administered by the nanosecond, often not allowing enough time for the chromophores (ink) to break apart and dissipate within the skin. With the introduction of picosecond lasers (ps-laser), the shorter pulse length effectively destroys a greater amount of chromophores to remove tattoo ink faster and more efficiently. (1)

Cutera’s Enlighten is a ps-laser that uses short pulses of light to break tattoo ink into very small particles. After they are broken up, the skin and body absorb them naturally, fading and eventually eliminating the tattoo for the patient over several sessions. A process that used to require 15 to 20 repeated treatments can now achieve the desired result in 8 to 10 Enlighten treatments.

How Do Picosecond Lasers Work?

There is a phenomenon called thermal lock-in wherein an object is heated extremely quickly without being given the chance for the heat to diffuse. When this happens, objects can be targeted and selectively heated to a high temperature to cause controlled damage to the molecules. Heat is harnessed through a ps-laser and targeted toward pigment in skin at very high temperatures and speeds, not allowing heat diffusion to occur. This allows for extremely reliable and effective chromophore removal when carefully repeated. (2)

When applied to black pigmented tattoos, ps-lasers are over twice as effective as slower, nanosecond lasers. This allows for half as many treatments to achieve the same results, saving the patient both time and money. Going even further, ps-lasers like Enlighten are several times more effective at destroying color pigmented tattoos than nanosecond lasers. (2)

The Enlighten Difference

Cutera’s Enlighten has three different laser wavelengths that can be used to remove specific tattoo pigments. These are 532, 1064, and 670 nm (nanometers) that can be pulsed either every 2 nanoseconds or 660 to 750 picoseconds. Unlike other ps-lasers, Enlighten does not use thermal energy to break down pigment, but rather creates a photoacoustic effect to create the necessary heat. Dr. Vu can program the laser according to the pigments present in specific tattoos for better control and to optimize each outcome.

Benefits of Laser Tattoo Removal

There are numerous benefits to laser tattoo removal using ps-lasers, including:

  • Short treatment duration
  • Highly targeted to avoid unwanted damage to surrounding tissues
  • Can be used anywhere on the body, including sensitive areas of the face and hands
  • Suitable for all skin tones and types
  • More effective than similar laser treatments
  • Quick Recovery
  • Can target specific pigments including hard-to-destroy colors

Enlighten ps-lasers are not only sufficient for tattoo removal, but can also be utilized to reduce general pigmentation, acne scarring, fine lines, and facial wrinkles all while triggering overall skin regeneration.

Am I an Ideal Candidate for Tattoo Removal?

If you are someone who has an unwanted tattoo, laser tattoo removal is a great option to help you reduce if not completely remove the ink. It is important that you understand the process of laser tattoo removal before starting the treatment. You must have reasonable expectations as removing a tattoo takes time, even when using a picosecond laser. It will require multiple treatments and some pigments will be harder to remove than others.

Personal Consultation with Dr. Vu

The first step toward successfully removing your unwanted tattoo is to meet with Dr. Vu to talk about your cosmetic expectations. Firstly, she examines the tattoo, noting its size and pigmentation, to determine that Enlighten is the best laser for the job. She then creates a treatment plan specifically catered toward your needs, including a detailed estimate of the number of treatments you may need to completely remove the ink. This may lead to additional treatments with other lasers to address any hyperpigmentation that the ps-laser may cause in the process.

During this consultation, it is important to be candid about your exact desires and to voice any concerns you may have before your first laser treatment. Dr. Vu explains the entire process in detail to make sure you are fully informed and prepared. At the end of this meeting, a member of the SkinZone Laser & Plastic Surgery team assists you with scheduling your laser tattoo removal treatment sessions in measured intervals.


Patients should stop the use of all tobacco and nicotine products before they undergo treatment. Tobacco use hinders your tattoo removal process and results, causing poor circulation and a weakened immune system. Laser tattoo removal does not require much preparation, but you should arrive at your treatments at least 30 to 45 minutes early if you opt for a topical numbing agent. Laser tattoo removal may not be suitable for you if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You should not undergo laser tattoo removal if you have any serious underlying conditions or problems healing.

Laser Tattoo Removal Procedure and Recovery

Tattoo removal sessions are relatively fast. As soon as the numbing agent has taken effect, Dr. Vu will start the procedure by testing the area with the laser. If your skin passes the test, she will continue with the treatment. Many compare the laser treatment to a rubber band snap against their skin. After a full pass, Dr. Vu may apply a salve to soothe the area, and then you are good to go back to your daily activities.

Following the initial treatment, you may experience some redness and swelling in the treated area. These side effects are common and should only be temporary. If swelling or irritation continues, contact Dr. Vu’s office immediately.

How Many Laser Treatments Will I Need?

Several factors influence the number of treatments you need to eliminate your tattoo. These factors include:

  • Your age
  • Your health
  • Your skin color
  • Age of the tattoo
  • Tattoo size and location
  • Ink color and quality

Typically, healthy patients require at least 8 treatment sessions. Dr. Vu may recommend additional treatments to remove tattoos done over existing tattoos or if you have scars from the tattoo process.

Related Procedures

Laser Hair Removal

Dr. Vu offers comprehensive laser hair removal treatments, performed with the latest laser technology and suitable for all skin tones and hair colors. For this procedure, Dr. Vu uses a laser to target the hair follicles on any area of the body. When the follicles absorb the light from the laser, the hair is heated to a high temperature, effectively destroying its re-growth potential.

With the use of local anesthetic, these treatments are comfortable and effective at removing hair on your arms, legs, chest, back, face, and many more areas of the body.

Dr. Vu would be delighted to explain the process more during your consultation if you are interested. You may also follow our blog to learn more about the cosmetic procedures and treatments often performed at SkinZone.

How Much Does Laser Tattoo Removal Cost in Costa Mesa?

Since this treatment is extremely dependent on the patient and the size and characteristics of their tattoo, your number of visits will determine your total cost. If your tattoo can be easily removed in a few treatments, your cost breakdown will look very different than a patient with a complicated or colorful tattoo. During your initial consultation, Dr. Vu will provide a detailed estimate.

To schedule your consultation today, call one of our convenient locations:

(626) 329-4555: Alhambra, CA

(714) 361-1555: Santa Ana, CA

We served SoCal from Los Angeles County to Orange County including but not limited to Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, Arcadia, Montebello, Hollywood, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Irvine, Tustin, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and more….!

Call us at 1-800-983-4983 to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns with our knowledgeable staff.


What is the difference between Q-switched and Enlighten lasers?

Q-switched lasers are programmed to pulse in nanoseconds, much slower than the picoseconds that enlighten lasers activate within. Both lasers are often used for tattoo removal, however ps-lasers like enlighten are proven to work better and at a fast rate.

What is harder to remove: older or newer tattoos?

While laser treatments can be used to remove both old and new tattoos, older ink is often easier to remove than a fresh new tattoo. 

Can laser tattoo removal leave scarring?

It is very rare for laser tattoo removal to leave scars. Although, if the patient acquired scarring from getting the initial tattoo, that scar tissue may be visible once the ink has been removed.


  1. Hsu VM, Aldahan AS, Mlacker S, Shah VV, Nouri K. The picosecond laser for tattoo removal. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016;31(8):1733-1737. doi:
  2. Kasai K. Picosecond Laser Treatment for Tattoos and Benign Cutaneous Pigmented Lesions (Secondary publication). LASER THERAPY. 2017;26(4):274-281. doi: