I offer two types of tattoo removal:
SALT AND SALINE REMOVAL
LASER TATTOO REMOVAL
I use an Nd:YAG (532 nm, 1064 nm). The Q-switched 532 nm Nd:YAG laser can be used to remove red pigments and the 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser is used for removal of black and blue pigments.
During a tattoo removal procedure, laser light is applied to the tattooed area of the skin. The light is selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink particles, leaving the surrounding skin tissue and chromophores unharmed. The tattoo ink particles absorb the laser energy, heat up, and shatter into smaller ink particles. In the days and weeks following a laser treatment, the body’s immune system flushes away the shattered ink particles through the lymphatic system, causing the tattoo to fade. Over a series of treatments, more and more of the ink shatters, leaving the skin free of ink.
It is a multi treatment process and the number of treatments will depend on the type and colour of the pigment/ink used, the depth of it in the skin, how long it has been in the skin, how well aftercare is adhered to as well as a few other individual factors such as immune system, skin type etc. Also, the number of sessions needed will depend on whether you are aiming for complete removal (not always completely possible) or whether you’re only needing the tattoo to be lightened enough to cover it. For complete removal it could take 10-20 sessions, for lightening to allow cover work to be done it could be as little as 3-5 sessions, but again, this will depend on the factors mentioned above.
NOTE: White pigment/ink cannot be treated by a laser as it turns black and is then extremely difficult to remove from the skin. So if a tattoo has areas of white you would need to have these removed by the Salt and Saline removal technique prior to laser near the white pigment/ink. This often includes most Semi Permanent Makeup as white is used in most of the pigments so Salt and Saline may be a better option for this. I can advise you on which removal technique is better for you.
The Nd:YAG laser also does not successfully remove green inks, they require a specialist laser (can be found in some laser clinics), but the Salt and Saline removal can be another good option for this colour so we can discuss what can be done if you have areas of green within a tattoo.
A patch test is required before full treatment can be carried out, so contact me to get booked in for a consultation.
What are the risks and potential complications from Tattoo Removal?
The sensation of the Nd; Yag laser tattoo removal is often described as a small rubber band being snapped onto the skin.
Due to the depth of treatment required to remove tattoo inks, the treatment is generally considered to be painful, although this will vary from person to person due to different tolerances to pain. Stinging or burning sensations will be noticed during the procedure, and the area treated may feel hot for some time after the treatment. I can advise on ways to alleviate any pain and discomfort pre/during the treatment with topical anaesthetic and cooling devices.
During the treatment, you will see small white dots appear on the skin after each firing of the laser, this is only water vaporized by the heated tattoo pigment and fades within 15-20 minutes. After the treatment, minor bleeding may occur, with skin redness, swelling and oozing, plus blistering appearing over the treated area.
The treated area may also feel very tender to the touch. This will improve after a few days, once blistering, crusting or scabs have resolved, the area of skin over the tattoo will look shiny for a number of weeks. It’s vital that the skin is well looked after immediately after the treatment. The treatment site should be considered as a minor burn and should not be picked at. There is a risk of infection if the area is not properly looked after, once the skin has returned to normal, generally after 4-6 weeks, then repeat treatment can be performed.
What should you do after Tattoo Removal?
It’s very important that you follow the aftercare advice carefully after any treatment for tattoo removal to help make the procedure as successful as possible and to reduce the risk of complications.
Post-treatment advice includes:
- Cold compresses (not ice) and recommended skin care products such as Aloe Vera may be useful immediately after the treatment to reduce swelling and redness or general discomfort. Redness over the treated area may last for several hours.
- For pain use paracetamol, but avoid aspirin as it can cause bleeding and bruising.
- A sterile non-stick “breathable” dressing such as Smith and Nephew’s Melolin (not cling film) may have been used on the treatment area just to allow you to get home without clothing or belts etc rubbing the area. It is advisable to remove this as soon as you get home to allow the lasered area to dry and heal naturally.
- You can apply another sterile non-stick dressing before going to bed to prevent inadvertent rubbing or scratching of the treated area whilst asleep. The Melolin dressings are available from Boots and possibly other chemists. But other than that, the treatment area may be left open and uncovered.
- Avoid soaking for 48 hours. Showers are allowed if tepid water is used but no baths.
- Avoid hot tubs, whirlpools, swimming pools or baths until the area or blisters have healed.
- Avoid excessive sweating for 24 to 48 hours. No saunas or vigorous working out.
- The treated area needs to be clean and as dry as possible while it is healing.
- Your skin will be fragile for 2 to 3 days. Use gentle cleaning – do not scrub the treatment area.
- When showering, only clean with soap and water (or just water) and pat the area dry.
- Blistering is common and is likely to occur, blisters heal very well and are part of normal healing. Apply Antiseptic cream over the blisters 3 times a day, and continue applying once they have popped for at least 24 hours. Allow the blisters to flake and fall off on their own. DO NOT PICK AT THE BLISTERS! This is the most common cause of infections and subsequent scarring.
- Keep areas well moisturised (with Aloe Vera or antiseptic cream) to aid recovery. Do not use any other products on the treated area without first consulting your Laser Practitioner.
- Avoid sun exposure and tanning creams during the entire course of treatments. Either cover up or use SPF 30 or greater sunscreen on the treatment area if you go into the sun.
- Avoid irritants such as Retin-A, Retinol, Renova, glycolics, bleaching creams and exfoliants for at least two weeks.
- Keep well hydrated to aid the healing process.
- We recommend you avoid drinking alcohol for 3-7 days (alcohol may dilate blood vessels in the treatment area).
- We recommend avoiding smoking for a period of several weeks before and after your treatment, as smoking constricts the capillaries and taxes the immune system, thereby slowing healing and results.
- On occasion, clients may experience honey coloured fluid (pus) oozing from the blistered skin. If it does occur, the client should seek immediate medical attention from their GP who will probably prescribe antibiotic cream.
As a general rule – once scabs and blisters are dry, the area is safe from infection, if scabs and blisters are still wet or glistening the risk of infection is high.
Contraindications for laser tattoo removal:
- Diseases affecting the immune system, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Taking Warfrin, Heparin, Clexane, Dabigatron or Robaroxiban
- Have Rheumatoid Arthritis treated with Gold injections or Methotrexate
- Taking regular doses of pain killers e.g. Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Diclofenac/Voltarol (prescribed daily prophylactic Aspirin – 75mg or less per day is acceptable)
- Implants under the treatment area
- Had spleen removed
- Skin types V and VI cannot be treated as risk of hypo/hyperpigmentation
- No artificial sun tanning for 1 month before having the treatment (as darker skin at risk of hypo/hyperpigmentation)
- Currently pregnant or breast feeding or planning to become pregnant soon
- Previously had an allergic reaction after laser tattoo removal
- Prone to Keloid scarring or Hypertrophic scars
- Suffer from liver disease or acute/chronic kidney disease
- Have Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV
- Have Haemophilia, Von Willibrands Disease or Thrombocytopenia
- Had Chemotherapy/Radiotherapy/Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Cancer/Leukaemia/Lymphoma
- Treatment with Retinoids such as Accutane in the last 6 months
- Facial implants, Botox & Fillers within the last 12 weeks in the area to be treated
- Had skin peels, dermabrasion or face lift in the area to be treated in the last 3 months
- Thyroid Disorders*
- Taking transplant anti-rejection drugs*
- Current psoriasis (within last 2 weeks)*
*Client needs to obtain a letter authorising treatment from Doctor
Client must follow provisos for the following:
- Dark spots after pregnancy or after skin injury (must accept potential risks)
- Herpes simplex (cold sores) – must use Zovira every day for 1 week pre treatment
- Active Rosacea or eczema in the area to be treated – must wait for it to heal
- Current infection or inflammatory condition – must be completely healed before treatment can commence
Medication or Herbal Remedies which exclude clients:
- Photosensitizing herbs such as Fever Few and St. John’s Wort
- Tetracycline antibiotics such as Minocin
- Amioderone a drug used in Cardiology
- Retinoids such as Ro-Accutane
- Blood thinning medication such as Warfarin
- High doses of Aspirin or Ibuprofen (or other NSAIDs)
- Gold Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Any other photosensitising drug
- Any immuno-suppressive drug
SALT AND SALINE REMOVAL
Salt and saline removal involves a high-salt solution being tattooed above the pigment/ink requiring removal and then left to soak on the area for 10 minutes. It then works by Osmosis, drawing water up through the layers of the skin, and in doing so, pulling pigment/ink particles up with it. During the healing process it scabs, which further pulls pigment/ink out of the skin.
It is a multi treatment process and the number of treatments will depend on the type and colour of the pigment/ink used, the depth of it in the skin, how long it has been in the skin, how well aftercare is adhered to as well as a few other individual factors such as immune system, skin type etc. Also, the number of sessions needed will depend on whether you are aiming for complete removal (not always completely possible) or whether you’re only needing the tattoo to be lightened enough to cover it. For complete removal it could take around 10 sessions, for lightening to allow cover work to be done it could be as little as 3-6 sessions, but again, this will depend on the factors mentioned above.
Any colour pigment/ink can be removed with this method, so this is ideal for most Semi Permanent Makeup and white ink/pigment, plus green colours which need a specific laser to remove.
The skin must completely heal before repeat treatment can be done, which is every 8 weeks. Scabbing will last 5-14 days depending on where you’ve had the removal (below the knee and elbows often take longer to heal) and personal factors such as immune system etc. Scabbing is your friend in this treatment, we want to see a great scab, the more it scabs the better, and we want it to last as long as possible ideally so it does maximum work, but it can be a little unsightly during this phase of healing so it’s worth considering any special events you may have coming up if you will have the area on show.
BE PATIENT AND TRUST THE PROCESS!
Removal is a process, you will not get immediate results so you must be patient and trust the process. It is always work considering the pre/post care to decide when is best for you to have treatments around holidays etc. I always aim to remove the ink/pigment as quickly as is safely possible, I am not here to swindle you, but I must consider your health and ensure I am treating your skin carefully.