Tattoo Removal

Many people get tattooed and bitterly regret the decision later on. What seemed like a good idea at the time can cause a major problem in later life. For some people having a tattoo can mean psychological distress. For others it can mean difficulty in securing employment or going for a promotion.

Those who regret getting a tattoo have three choices: hide it, cover it with a better tattoo, or have it removed!

Today, Q-switched lasers are the most effective method of tattoo removal. They work by targeting the ink with pulses of highly concentrated light that shatter the ink into tiny fragments, which are then cleared away through the body’s lymphatic system.

For professional tattoos, usually 6-10 sessions are required. Very faded tattoos and amateur tattoos may require less than six sessions.

If you have a tattoo that you wish to have partially or completely removed, why not make an appointment to have a complimentary consultation and quote today?

We use Q-switched lasers – powerful short pulsed lasers. Only Q-switched lasers can remove tattoos without scarring. Both Ruby & ND:Yag lasers are needed to enable removal of the widest range of ink colours. Usually 6-10 sessions are required (at 4-6 week intervals) for professional tattoos.

Permanent body art can be a wonderful thing. It can also be the worst mistake you ever made. At About Skin, we don’t judge you on the basis of your tattoos…we just help you to get rid of the unwanted ones.

To remove tattoos, we use Q-switched lasers – powerful short-pulsed (measured in nanoseconds) lasers. Only Q-switched lasers can remove tattoos with a less than 5% risk of scarring -all other tattoo removal treatments are associated with a much higher scarring risk.

Both Ruby and Nd:YAG lasers are needed to enable removal of the widest range of ink colours. Six to twelve sessions are generally required (at 5-week minimum intervals) for optimal removal of professional tattoos. Amateur (”home”) tattoos may require less sessions.

How does it work? It’s all based on a scientific principle called “selective photothermolysis”. Laser light is preferentially absorbed by the ink globules embedded in your skin. Rapid heating causes fragmentation of the ink into smaller particles, which can then be removed by the body’s own scavenger cells.

The trick is to get the settings right – wavelength (colour), intensity and pulse duration all have to be optimised to create ink shattering without any leakage of energy into surrounding skin.

Transient side-effects include bleeding, bruising, crusting, scab formation. Scarring occurs in less than 5% of treatments and is usually not severe. Some skin lightening may occur, especially if your skin is dark.

How does laser tattoo removal work?

The laser emits pulses of light which are directed at the tattooed skin. The light is absorbed by the particles of tattoo ink, causing them to break up. The body then removes these ink particles from within.

Does it really work?

Yes, for most ink colours. Laser tattoo removal is most effective for black ink (which absorbs the light very well), and usually very effective for red and dark green inks and most other dark colours. Lighter ink colours tend to reflect the laser light, and so treatment is less effective for colours such as light blue, yellow and orange.

How does the body remove the shattered particles of ink?

The skin has many circulating ‘scavenger’ cells called macrophages, which can swallow foreign particles up to a certain size. The cells then carry the ink through tiny lymphatic channels to local lymph glands. Much of the ink will end up in these glands, although some of it will be cleared right out of the body (via the kidneys).

Is that safe?

Yes. When a tattoo is done, up to one-third of all the ink put into the skin will end up in the local lymph glands within one year. So, if you have a tattoo, you already have quite a lot of ink in your lymph glands! It appears to be harmless there, just like it is in the skin.

Does it hurt?

Yes. Lasering a tattoo produces a sharp pain, described by some as ‘like a rubber band being snapped against the skin’. The severity of pain depends on factors such as skin colour, ink colour, and ink density. Most people tolerate the pain quite well, but if the pain is severe, a numbing cream such as EMLA is available from chemists.

Can you get rid of all the ink?

In many cases, yes – especially with black ink and other dark colours. The easiest tattoos to remove are amateur or ‘home’ tattoos, as there is usually less ink in these. Very fresh, densely inked tattoos require more sessions. If the ink has been very deeply embedded, the deepest part may be difficult to remove.

How many sessions does it take for complete removal?

For professional tattoos, usually between 6-10 sessions are required. Very faded tattoos and amateur tattoos may require less than six sessions.

How far apart should the sessions be?

We recommend a minimum of 4 weeks. This is to allow full skin healing, and also to allow scavenger cells enough time to remove the shattered ink resulting from treatment. You can leave it for much longer than that if you wish. (For instance, if you go overseas).

Will it take time to heal?

Yes. We usually apply an adherent dressing after the procedure, which stays on for 3 days. After removal of the dressing, there may be some scab formation. Full healing may take up to 3 weeks. During this time, it is advised that you protect the area as much as you would if you had a graze.

What lasers do you use?

We have a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser for black, brown, purple and red inks; and a Q-switched ruby laser for black, green and blue inks. As you can see, one laser can’t do all the common colours. Serious tattoo removal clinics will always have two machines (or alternatively, a ‘two-in-one’ machine such as the Coherent Versapulse).

Q-switched lasers produce powerful, incredibly short pulses of light – only a few billionths of a second in duration! Research has shown that this is the safest and most effective type of laser for tattoo removal.

What is the risk of scarring?

International studies quote a 5% risk of scarring from tattoo removal using Q-switched lasers. In our experience the risk is lower – about 1-2%.

Olive and dark skinned persons may experience some loss of skin pigmentation in the area, resulting in a permanent light patch. This is not really the same as a scar, but is still a permanent mark. The risk of this depends on the skin type, and the laser which is used.

How much does it cost?

Our fees start from $100 per session for small tattoos. Larger and multi-coloured tattoos take longer and will be more expensive and could be as much as $600 per session.

Generally the quoted fee will be charged each time for the first 6 sessions, and reduced in a stepwise fashion after that.

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