Even though laser is safe, complications do occur but are rare. The most common side effects of laser include:
Skin lightening (depigmentation): Some dark skinned individuals can develop fading of the skin color. This complication is temporary and usually resolves within 10-14 weeks. However, there are times when the complication is permanent.
Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation): In fair skinned people, lasers can sometimes cause darkening of the skin. Over time this fades and recovers; but in some cases a bleaching agent has to be used to erase the dark color.
Infections: Sometimes an infection can occur at the site of the tattoo removal. The infection may be superficial and resolves but in some cases, deep skin infections can occur and result in a scar.
Skin Texture: After laser treatment, most individuals will have a rough skin texture. The skin will feel like it has been scraped. These changes are transient and usually resolve in 1-3 months. Thick skin usually resolves better than thin skin. The facial skin is more sensitive to texture changes than skin elsewhere on the body.
Allergic reactions: Rarely when the laser disrupts the ink particles some individuals may have an allergic type reaction. It is not known why the reaction occurs and to what ink. The skin usually becomes red, dry and it itchy. Application of topical corticosteroids will suffice.
Ink darkening: When the laser is applied on cosmetic tattoos, it can worsen or darken the color. This is most likely felt to be due to the heat of the laser reacting with the cosmetic chemicals. The changes can be permanent. So before a cosmetic tattoo is treated, a brief test is done to look at the response. Many an individual has had permanent tattooing of their eye liners.
Sun burn: After every laser procedure, a sunburn effect occurs. The skin appears red and fiery in some cases. This is a normal and transient- it does resolve within a few weeks. Besides keeping the area clean, there is no need to apply any ointments or creams, except the sunscreen
Miscellaneous: Many of the tattoo dyes are unregulated and their exact contents unknown. Despite this the, complications of laser are rare. A few individuals do develop thickening of the skin. This thickening known as granuloma is felt to be due to ink particles embedded in scavenging cells. The granuloma may be small bump on the skin. When lasers are used near the eye, hair loss and anatomical distortion of the eye lids have been known to occur