Got a tattoo you regret? According to consumer body Choice, around one in four Australians under 30 have a tattoo. And more than 25% of them want it removed. So what are your options?
Whether it’s a tattoo of your ex or a drunken mistake, there are highly sophisticated tattoo removal techniques available today that can wipe the stamp clear.
There are skin grafts or plastic surgery, but for most people this is a drastic and unviable option. These days, the technique of choice is a laser, with the industry standard being the Q-switched laser.
The problem is a whole world of unregulated laser treatment out there, with people using knock-off versions of the machines or, worse still, using IPL. And it’s no wonder when you consider that professional Q-switched laser machines go for around $150,000, and IPL are available for a mere $15,000.
IPL vs. Q-switched laser tattoo removal
The use of IPL for tattoo removal is the main cause of injury, and also rarely results in the tattoo actually being removed. IPL work in milliseconds, not nanoseconds, and have a broader wavelength. This can cause some skin burns and scars resulting in the tattoo becoming distorted.
Q-switched lasers, on the other hand, are extremely high-tech systems designed to fade and remove tattoos – whatever the colour. The laser light is set to a specific wavelength depending on the skin types and tattoo colour/location. Used in short bursts, the lasers break up the tattoo ink into small particles. These particles are slowly absorbed by the body, where the immune system gets to work and rids the body of them. With each treatment, the tattoo fades even more.
Who should perform tattoo removal?
It goes without saying, then, that it’s absolutely critical that only experienced dermatologists and dermatologically trained nurses perform laser tattoo removal. Unfortunately, in a booming industry, unskilled practitioners outweigh those with the right skills. Be wary of those who only say they have taken a laser safety course as this is not specific to tattoo removal.
How many sessions does it take?
The number of sessions needed completely depends on the tattoo itself. It can be anywhere from two to fifteen, at eight or twelve weekly intervals. Professional tattoos tend to have deeper and more dense ink, therefore professional tattoos require more treatments. Research shows almost half (47%) of tattoos require up to ten sessions to be successfully removed using a Q-switched laser. Some need more, some less. Your response to the process is reduced if you smoke. Tattoos made up of only black inks are easier to remove than colour, especially green. The Q-Switched Revlite Laser system can treat all tattoo inks, the colour determines how many sessions are required. Larger tattoos of over 30 square centimetres can take longer, as can older tattoos on your feet or legs.
If you’re looking to remove what was once “permanent body art”, it pays to do your research and speak to the experts. Contact Sydney Dermatology Group for more information on professional tattoo removal.