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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.
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.
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.