Tattoo Removal

Regret your Tattoo? You’re not alone!

It has been estimated that 20% of adults in the USA have at least one tattoo and that rate appears to be increasing, with recent surveys of University students finding around 50% now have tattoos. Tattoo regret is very common with estimates that about half of those who have tattoos will want them removed at some point.

The reasons for wanting tattoos removed varies from person to person. It may be that a decorative tattoo done when younger is now out of place and inappropriate. Tattoos and job interviews usually don’t mix. It may be that a decorative tattoo has simply not turned out well.

Cosmetic facial tattoos such as eye-liner and lip liner may need to be removed for such reasons as wrong position, wrong colour or a change in fashion. Some patients only want a tattoo partially removed so they can replace it with a new tattoo. This is termed remodelling and often only a few laser treatments may be needed to fade an existing tattoo before a new tattoo can replace it.

QUICK SUMMARY – LASER FACTS

  • 1. Tattoos are very common and their popularity is increasing with currently over 20% of Australian adults having at least one tattoo.
  • 2. About half of people with tattoos regret the decision at some stage and consider removal.
  • 3. Medical grade lasers are undoubtedly the most effective and safest method of tattoo removal.
  • 4. Lasers vary greatly in quality and safety but in Victoria there are no regulations controlling the quality and safety of Tattoo Removal lasers.
  • 5. Treatment methods and lasers which achieve Tattoo removal in fewer treatments continue to be developed and the latest technology is the PICOSURE laser.
  • 6. Laser Tattoo removal is a safe procedure when performed correctly but scarring and infection can occur especially with cheap equipment and unqualified operators.
  • 7. In Victoria there are no regulatory controls to safeguard the public as to who can perform Laser Tattoo removal..
  • 8. All tattoo colours and skin types can be treated but the number of treatments can be unpredictable.
  • 9. Realistic expectations are important as complete removal of tattoos can never be guaranteed.
  • 10. The best and safest results in Tattoo removal are when a medical grade laser is used in a medical laser clinic by experienced practitioners with University qualifications.

State of the Art Equipment

20 Years Experience

CBD Location

Doctors Perform Treatments

HOW DOES LASER TATTOO REMOVAL WORK?

 

The Q-SWITCH laser produces laser beam pulses in small fractions of a second (nanoseconds). The short Q-SWITCH pulses can shatter tattoo pigment into smaller particles which the body’s normal scavenger system can then remove. The short pulses means the normal skin is not heated as much and hence the risk of scarring is significantly reduced. There are 3 types of Q-SWITCH lasers (called YAG, RUBY and ALEXANDRITE) which vary in the wavelength (colour) of light they produce.

Different wavelengths of laser light are attracted to different colours of tattoo pigment, for example to remove red tattoo ink a different wavelength of laser light is needed to the laser light required to remove black tattoo ink. This means to treat multiple colours of tattoo ink effectively more than one type of Q-SWITCH laser is required.

At the Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre we use both the REVLITE Q-SWITCH YAG laser from the USA and the SINON Q-SWITCH RUBY laser from Germany. It needs to be remembered that in Victoria there are no regulations protecting the general public on the quality and safety of lasers. The quality of Q-SWITCH lasers can vary significantly with cheap clone machines out of Asia in particular having issues with effectiveness, reliability and safety.

 

LASER TATTOO REMOVAL IN MEN

WHY DO MEN WANT TO REMOVE TATTOOS?

Tattoos are common with over 25% of Australian men under 30 having at least one tattoo. Regretting having a tattoo is also very common with some estimates putting it as high as 1 in 3 men regretting the decision to have a tattoo. The reasons for wanting a tattoo removed are varied but include a poor tattoo (such as incorrect spelling or a design gone wrong), changed circumstances (such as name of ex-girlfriend or applying for a different job that might not view tattoos as acceptable), a design that may no longer be appropriate (satanic or offensive images) and in some cases skin reaction to tattoo ink (which is seen most often with red ink).

Some men simply want to fade a tattoo rather than fully remove it so they can replace it with a different design. This is called remodelling and is becoming an increasingly common request.

WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD OF TATTOO REMOVAL?

Whatever the reason for wanting a tattoo removed there is no doubt the best method is by the use of medical laser technology. Laser tattoo removal has evolved over the years with recent advances significantly improving the results in terms of faster clearance and a reduced risk of scarring.

The first lasers used for tattoo removal many years ago were continuous beam that tended to burn the skin and had unacceptably high rates of scarring. The development of lasers that pulsed for a fraction of a second, called Q-Switch lasers, significantly improved the results and these lasers are still the mainstay of laser tattoo removal. The latest improvement has been the development of lasers that pulse for even shorter fractions of a second called picoseconds. Picosecond lasers are 100-1000 times shorter in pulse duration to traditional Q-Switch lasers which are in the nanosecond range. The ultra short picosecond pulse has the advantage of improved tattoo pigment shattering because of the sound wave effect of the extra short laser pulse. The first and most popular picosecond laser that was specifically designed for tattoo removal is the PICOSURE laser.

In addition to the introduction of picosecond lasers there have also been advances in treatment protocols that combine the use of fractional lasers with picosecond lasers and the use of multiple pass techniques rather than older single pass protocols.

CAN ALL TATTOO COLOURS BE REMOVED BY LASER?

All tattoo ink colours can be treated by laser tattoo removal however the response varies depending on the type of ink used. Greens and blue colours that used to be very difficult to remove can now be removed quite quickly with picosecond lasers. White tattoo inks are difficult as they lack the colour to attract the laser light. It is not yet certain how well newer fluorescent coloured tattoo inks will respond to laser tattoo removal.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED FOR TATTOO REMOVAL?

The number of treatments varies with the type of ink used (in particular the size of the ink particles), how much ink was used and how deep the ink was inserted. There are factors related to an individual patients immune system and how quickly it can clear broken down ink particles. It also varies with level of clearance wanted ie whether the tattoo is only going to be faded or tried to be completely removed. Amateur tattoos generally can be cleared with only a few treatments, faint tattoos can be cleared quicker than muti layered tattoos, upper body areas clear quicker than lower body areas, green inks clear quicker than black inks and darker skin types can need more treatments.It is important to remember that there is no regulation on what is in tattoo ink and how tattoo inks are made and as it is never known exactly what is in any particular tattoo ink the response to laser can be unpredictable.

Whilst many factors effect how quickly tattoos respond to laser treatment, as a guide, expect that to remove 90% plus of a tattoo can take 10+ treatments. If a tattoo is only going to be faded to put a new design over the top fewer laser removal treatments than this are typically needed.

WHAT IS THE COST OF LASER TATTOO REMOVAL?

The cost of laser tattoo removal depends on the type of laser being used, the size of the tattoo being treated and whether anaesthetic is needed. In a medical laser clinic with an experienced medical doctor performing the procedure expect the cost to start at $150 per treatment. For larger tattoos about the size of an A4 sheet of paper expect the cost to be around $350 per treatment. The Government regards tattoo removal as a cosmetic procedure and as such applies a GST charge of 10%

If you would like a quote for the cost of laser tattoo removal simply send us a photo of the tattoo and we can give you a costing for each treatment. The number of treatments is unpredictable as there are too many unknowns about the type and amount of tattoo ink, but what is known is that a quicker and safer clearance will occur with the latest high grade lasers being used by experienced operators in a medical clinic environment.

WHY SHOULD TATTOO REMOVAL BE DONE IN A MEDICAL LASER CLINIC?

Tattoo removal is totally unregulated in Victoria. There are no regulatory controls on who can do the procedure, where it can be done or the standard of equipment that is used. The safest and most reliable results in laser tattoo removal are obtained when the procedure is performed by an experienced medical doctor in a medical clinic using medical grade lasers.

At the Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre we have been performing laser tattoo removal for over 20 years, all laser tattoo removal treatments are performed by medical practitioners who in addition to their medical degree have extensive post graduate training in laser procedures, laser tattoo removal is performed in our accredited medical practice and a range of the latest medical grade lasers are available including the REVLITE Q Switch laser, the SINON Q Switch laser and the PICOSURE laser.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

WHAT IS LASER TATTOO REMOVAL?

Laser Tattoo removal is the process of removing tattoo ink with laser technology and it generally requires multiple treatments over a period of months.

HOW CAN TATTOOS BE REMOVED?

Many methods have been used to try and remove Tattoos including using acid (Trichloroacetic acid to remove the top layers of the skin), scrubbing the surface of the skin with salt (Salt abrasion), mechanical removal of the skin (Dermabrasion), freezing the skin (Cryosurgery) and even surgical excision of the tattoo.Lasers were first tried over 20 years ago to try and remove tattoos, however the earliest lasers such as the Carbon Dioxide laser, used a continuous beam of light which caused burning of the skin and high rates of scarring.With the development of lasers which could deliver very short pulses of laser energy, called Q Switch lasers, results improved and rates of scarring reduced dramatically and Laser Tattoo Removal with Q-Switch lasers is now regarded as the treatment of choice to try and remove unwanted tattoos.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO REMOVE ALL TATTOOS?

All colours of tattoo ink can be treated however some inks prove much harder to remove than others. In the past blue and green tattoos were hard to remove but the latest PICOSURE Laser can now remove these colours very effectively.Cosmetic tattoos, such as eyebrow and lip liner, can be particularly difficult to remove. The light coloured pink, tan or white tattoos used in permanent makeup often contain Titanium Dioxide in the ink and Q-SWITCH lasers can actually turn these tattoos black and much darker than before treatment.Newer fluorescent tattoo inks also present a much greater challenge to remove as well.
It is important to remember that there is no regulation on the ingredients of tattoo ink used by tattooists. As different inks respond differently to treatment the response to Laser tattoo removal can be unpredictable both in terms of number of treatments and level of fading achievable.

ARE THERE ANY RISKS WITH LASER TATTOO REMOVAL?

Laser tattoo removal is a safe procedure when performed correctly but skin damage, infection and scarring can occur particularly when cheap equipment is used by unqualified operators.
The lasers used are Class 4 lasers and as such have the potential to cause eye damage and specialised eyewear must be worn by the laser operator and the patient.Immediately after treatment, blistering and crusting can occur and if the proper wound care is not undertaken then infection and even scarring can occur. Pigment change, either the loss of pigment (hypopigmentation) or an increase in pigment (hyperpigmentation) can occur after treatment and these can be long lasting especially in darker skin types.When a laser shatters tattoo ink, as well as smaller tattoo pigment particles being created, unknown decomposition products and other new compounds can also develop. Allergic reactions have been reported as these various particles are removed from the skin via blood vessels and the lymphatic system. These allergic reactions can appear as small localised itchy lumps, but rarely can be a generalised systemic allergic reaction that is severe enough to require medical treatment. Allergic reactions seem to occur particularly with red and yellow inks.The safest results with laser tattoo removal are when medical grade lasers are used by experienced University trained practitioners in a medical laser clinic.

IS LASER TATTOO REMOVAL PAINFUL?

We’ve not going to sugar coat this, treatment is painful. Most patients characterise the level of pain as more painful than getting the tattoo in the first place. With small tattoos this is not usually a problem as the latest lasers can pulse at a high repetition rate which means the removal process can be very quick. Some areas however, such as over bony areas like the ankle bone, or large areas like sleeves can be more sensitive and may require anaesthetic.

Because the PICOSURE doesn’t rely as much on the laser heating up the ink particles, much lower power settings can be used, typically half the power (fluence) is required compared to Q-Switch nanosecond lasers. This has the dual advantage of being much less painful than Q-Switch lasers and also reduces the heat reaction in surrounding skin and hence a significantly reduced risk of pigmentation change and scarring.

We can make it less painful for you

Pain relief can be provided in a medical laser clinic if necessary, and this can range from chilled air, topical anaesthetic creams, or in certain cases local anaesthetic injections or anaesthetic inhaler.

WHAT IS THE PICOSURE LASER PROCESS?

Procedures continue to improve with the development of both new lasers and new treatment protocols to achieve safer and fewer tattoo removal treatments. The latest development in laser tattoo removal has been the Picosecond Laser which delivers laser pulses in ultrashort pulses ( much shorter than Q-Switch lasers) to more effectively shatter tattoo pigment. The first picosecond laser called the PICOSURE is particularly effective on green and blue tattoos, which prior to the PICOSURE were very difficult to remove. The PICOSURE is also very effective in clearing up residual tattoos that have stopped responding to Q-Switch laser treatments. At the Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre we have been using the PICOSURE laser since it was released in Australia in 2013.
Large Tattoos

Price dependent on choice of laser device and ink colours. For tattoos larger than a standard business card size

Typically $250-$450 per treatment
Small Tattoos

Price dependent on choice of laser device and ink colours. For tattoos smaller than a standard business card size

Typically $150-$250 per treatment

Want to receive the hottest newsletter in laser cosmetics? We thought so. Sign up here.