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Getting a Tattoo Removed

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 22 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
Tattoo Removal Laser Surgery

You wouldn't be the first and you certainly won't be the last person to decide that perhaps a tattoo which was hastily done in your youth is now surplus to requirements.

It's possible to remove an unwanted tattoo, although some methods are more successful than others. A lot will depend on how big your tattoo is and where it is situated, as well as how it was done and the type of pigment that was used.

Who Can Remove a Tattoo?

The first thing to try is a visit to your GP to find out if you are eligible to have your tattoo removed on the NHS. It's unlikely that they will fund you, but some Health Authorities will make an exception in some cases. At the very least your doctor can give you some advice about what method is best for you, and you can ask him for a referral to a reputable cosmetic surgeon who could do the work.

You might see cheap tattoo removal advertised in the newspapers - it's never a good idea to go for the budget option for any cosmetic procedure. Find someone who is registered with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons (BACS) and at least you'll know that you are in good hands. Ask questions - ask what options are available, find out the success rates for the different options, and find out how long the surgeon has been carrying out the procedure.

The methods used to remove tattoos vary, some are favoured by different experts and some depend on the type of tattoo you want to get rid of.

What Are The Main Methods?

Tattoos are usually removed in one of the following ways:

  • Laser treatment Pulses of laser light are sent into the tattoos, using different intensities for different coloured pigments. The light passes through the top layer of the skin, and is then absorbed by pigment particles in the tattoo.

    The particles heat up and break into smaller pieces which are eliminated through the immune system. Laser treatment is easy and effective, and there is very little risk involved. It's possible that there could be some scarring or pigmentation afterwards, or occasionally the pigment can react with the laser, which results in a darker colour in the skin.

    Laser treatment only takes a few minutes but it can take a few treatments to complete, and it can cause some discomfort. Complete removal is unlikely, and the treatments can cost you hundreds of pounds.

  • Dermabrasion This is where the skin is chemically treated to break up tissue and then the top layers of the skin, which contain the tattoo pigment, are rubbed away mechanically. This can sometimes lead to scarring, though.
  • Vaporisation A carbon dioxide laser is used to remove the tattoo - and this can also lead to some scarring.

How Long Will it Take?

Removing tattoos usually takes place under local anaesthetic and with some sedation. It can often take several treatments to get the tattoo as light as you want it to be, and unless it's physically cut out, you can often see a faint residual image.

Tattoo Removal Creams

Don't waste your money on a cream that claims to remove your tattoos. Medical experts have dismissed the claims that an expensive cream can dissolve away a tattoo, and the Tattoo Club of Great Britain agrees.

Unfortunately, it's sad fact of life that a tattoo of your lover's name can last longer than the love itself, so you need to consider your options carefully before you set foot in a tattoo parlour!

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@Koren. It depends what you would like to happen as a solution. Decide what you would want as compensation eg. a new tattoo, effective lasar treatment etc. Write a formal letter to the tattoo parlour requesting this. If they refuse, you may need to seek legal advice.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 29-Jun-15 @ 9:58 AM
Hi, I was just wondering if anyone can help as I'm extremely uncomfortable in the position a local tattoo parlour has left me in. I simply asked for a simple three word tattoo in words 'love' 'hope' and 'strength' on the right top part of my back. I was happy with my tattoo as they seemed quite confident theirselves. So I paid and left. Not to find 3 weeks after that the tattoo was misspelt! I was horrified and so embarrassed. I finally bucked up the courage to go back to the parlour and talk to someone about what they was going to do. I explained to them what my story was. I had no apology from the parlour or the male tattooist that had made the mistake as I got told he had moved away to higher his tattoo career. their excuse was that the male suffered from dislecsia. That is not my problem. So they came to a decision they would use laser treatment to hide my embarrassment. I was under no anaesthetic and waited 20mins in between each setion. it's now their problem to fix my hole in my back that I have to hide behind awkward tops its humiliating! Help!
Koren - 22-Jun-15 @ 8:17 PM
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