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Tattoo Removal

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It seemed like a great idea at the time when you got that tattoo a few years ago, but now you would like to get rid of it.

The Process

The majority of tattoos being removed today are carried out using laser treatment, this is because there is a lower risk of scarring.

Earlier tattoo removal techniques included methods such as dermabrasion; this is where the skin is sanded so that it removes both the surface layer and the middle layer of skin, the doctor then removes the tattoo with a scalpel and stitches the wound closed, this method usually results in excessive scarring to the skin.

Laser treatment is considered the standard procedure for tattoo removal. However, there are many different types of laser treatment available to remove your tattoo. The type of laser treatment used will depend on the pigment colours used in your tattoo as different laser types remove different pigment colours.

The pigment colours that are the easiest to remove are black, brown and blue, while the pigment colours red, green, yellow, orange and white are more difficult to remove.

Tattoos that are carried out by professionals usually contain more pigment colours and the design is more detailed. In many of these cases the pigment colours are also applied more deeply into the skin, this usually means that a tattoo that has been carried out by a professional is usually more difficult to remove and thus may take more treatment sessions.

Each person and tattoo is unique so the number of treatment sessions you will need can vary. The average number of sessions normally needed to completely remove a tattoo is between seven and 12 treatments. Do not be surprised, however, if the removal of your tattoo takes more sessions than that.

Tattoo removal is not carried out all at once, it is not an overnight procedure as you must allow breaks of anything from four to eight weeks between each laser treatment session.

Preparing Yourself for Treatment

Preparing yourself for the treatment session for the removal of your unwanted tattoo is simple, there is no preparation. As long as you have had your consultations with your chosen plastic surgeon and you have discussed all the aspects of the procedure, then all you need to do is take a deep breath and relax.

Before the doctor gets started with the laser treatment, s/he will numb the area of skin that will be treated in that particular session with a topical medication. If you feel the need, you may be able to have more medication. The numbing does disappear when the medication wears off.

The laser process to remove the pigment colours in the tattoo is not a pain-free procedure. The pain that is felt during the process is described as a burning sensation or someone snapping an elastic band against the skin. The medication that you will receive during the procedure will make this sensation bearable for most patients.

Recovering from Treatment

After each treatment session, it is very important that you keep the area as clean as possible by washing it with hydrogen peroxide and by applying an antibiotic such as bacitracin or polysporin. It is also important that you keep the area covered with a clean, sterile bandage - you are normally only asked to do this for a week after each session. The area maybe very tender for a few days after each session.


Following each of the treatment sessions there is always a high risk of infection to the area. It is very important that the area being treated is kept clean and that you use the antibiotics or antiseptic medication prescribed to you by your doctor.

Another of the risks that follows treatment is sunburn. It is important that you keep the area covered in factor 15 suncream at all times when the area is not covered by clothing or a sterile bandage.

If during the course of your laser treatment your doctor notices that you are beginning to experience heavy scarring, s/he may decide to stop the tattoo removal process altogether. Slight minor scarring is usual during laser treatment whereas heavy scarring is not.


The cost of tattoo removal treatment for your unwanted tattoo will depend on several different factors.

  • The doctor will need to take into consideration the overall size, the pigment colours used, and whether the tattoo was carried out by a professional or an amateur.

  • The number of sessions that you may need to completely remove the tattoo depends on the individual tattoo itself. The cost of each individual session will vary depending on where you live in the country and which hospital you choose to use for the treatment.

It is recommended that you wear sun cream at all times if the treated area is not covered. It is extremely important that you do avoid exposing the treated area to the sun.

Hospitals where Treatment is Available in the UK

  • Acland, Oxford
  • Cleveland
  • Cotswold, Cheltenham
  • Exeter
  • Glasgow
  • Hull
  • Leicester
  • Mid Yorkshire, Leeds
  • Newcastle
  • North Staffordshire, Newcastle-Under-Lyme

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