Tattoo Removal Geelong
How can tattoos be removed?
Tattoos are and have been significantly growing in popularity. There are an estimated 20-30 million tattooed individuals in the world. Approximately 50% of those who get tattoos regret all or part of their tattoos and want to have them removed completely, or faded enough to allow for re-tattooing of a new design over the old tattoo.
In the last decade, tattoo removal has been revolutionised by q-switched lasers. Q-switched lasers emit wavelengths of light that are much more highly attracted to the tattoo ink in skin than the surrounding (normal) skin. This high affinity towards tattoo inks means that they are able to remove or fade tattoos with minimal effect on the surrounding skin.
At Body Recon our medical grade Fotona QX MAX laser system offers four wavelengths in one system. Each different wavelength is preferentially attracted to different tattoo colours. With four wavelengths to choose from, this maximises the chance of removal for all tattoo colours on all skin types, something considered nearly impossible in the past.
The QX MAX transmits extremely short energy pulses that cause tattoo pigments to break into smaller particles that are then removed by the body’s own immune system.
Our Fotona QX MAX Q-Switched laser technology generates single nanosecond pulses, which are more efficient at removing pigment than other systems that use multiple-pulse technologies of equivalently high power. Single pulses are not affected by the optical shielding phenomenon arising from pigment destruction. Consequently more and deeper lying structures can be reached and removed, and laser treatment efficacy and efficiency in a single session are significantly greater. This means we can treat you with much more power giving you a better result with your tattoo removal.
With q-switched laser there is minimal heat energy transferred to the skin reducing the risk of damage to surrounding areas. Although q-switched laser treatments require several sessions to successfully remove or fade a tattoo, they have the greatest chance of returning your skin to its previous state in comparison to the other methods of tattoo removal. Q-switched lasers allow for complete removal of the tattoo, or just to fade it so the area can be tattooed over for those wanting to change or update their tattoos.
What is a q-switched laser?
Q-switched lasers such as the QX MAX we use at Body Recon are suited to tattoo removal due to their extremely short pulse duration and high power. This property allows q-switch lasers to literally shatter and disrupt the tattoo pigment resulting in particles that are small enough to be eliminated from the body by the immune system.
Our QX MAX produces two different wavelengths that allow us to successfully treat different tattoo pigments on different skin types. Each wavelength is attracted to a different range of colours. For example, the 532nm wavelength is attracted to red, tan, purple and orange, whilst the 1064nm is attracted to black, brown, dark blue, grey and yellow.
With our handpieces 585nm is attracted to sky blue and our 650nm attracted to green. White tattoos and skin coloured tattoos are hard to remove as they tend to reflect the laser light. These tattoos tend to oxidise and turn black initially, and then lighten with further treatments.
What type of tattoos can be treated?
Virtually all tattoos can be treated. Both amateur and professional tattoos are treatable; however, professional tattoos require more treatments to achieve similar results. All colours can be treated, however some may be more difficult and require more treatments and have a lower chance of complete removal. White, yellow, and skin coloured tattoos tend to be difficult to completely remove.
Traumatic tattoos, or those caused by dirt or debris being embedded in the skin, e.g after motorbike accidents, can also be removed in the same manner as conventional tattoos.
Can tattoo removal be performed on any skin type?
Tattoos can be removed from all skin types, but the darker the skin, the less contrast there is between the colour of the skin and the tattoo, making it more difficult to remove without affecting the normal skin.
How many treatments will I need?
Generally several treatments are required for tattoo removal. There are a lot of elements that will determine how many treatments you need. Multi-coloured and professional tattoos tend to be harder to remove than single coloured or amateur tattoos and therefore require more treatments. For complete removal, professional tattoos usually require approximately 4-8 sessions depending on the colour and amateur tattoos approximately 4. This can be very variable- some people require more, some people less. To fade a tattoo (e.g for tattooing over with a new design), only a couple of sessions are required.
Factors that determine how many sessions will be required include;
- The skin type. The melanin in the skin attracts the laser in the same way as the tattoo ink thus increasing the risk of damage to surrounding skin. To prevent complications, a lower laser setting will usually be used and consequently more sessions will be required in darker skin types.
- How old the tattoo is. The older the tattoo, the easier it is to remove. We have had cases of 40 year old tattoos being completely removed in one session. Newer tattoos take longer in comparison as the new method of tattoos usually involves distribution of more ink deeper in the skin.
- Location of the tattoo. Tattoo ink is broken down by laser and taken away by the body’s lymphatic and immune systems. Blood supply and lymphatic drainage vary with various body areas, with the greatest supply being the head/neck and trunk, and the least to the extremities. Therefore tattoos that are situated in areas of high blood supply and lymphatic drainage require fewer treatments to remove.
- Colour. The colour of the tattoo is determined by the type of ink used and the constituents of the ink. Black tends to be the most readily removed, with yellow, green, and multi-coloured tattoos being more difficult.
- Amount of ink. Tattoos with minimal ink or outlines only tend to be easier to remove and require fewer sessions than heavily inked and solid areas such as tribal tattoos.
- Scarring. Tattooing the skin can often lead to complications such as scarring and other changes in the tissue that make the tattoo more difficult to remove by laser. Where these complications exist, more sessions may be required to remove the tattoos. Combining fractionated laser may also help to break down this scar tissue.
- Layered tattoos. Tattoos that have been tattooed over with another tattoo tend to be more difficult to remove due to the increased amount of ink.
The above information was proposed in the Kirby-Desai scale, named after two dermatologists who studied 100 patients to see if they could estimate the number of sessions required depending on various factors.
Overall, it is difficult to predict exactly the number of sessions required to remove or fade your tattoo, however this gives us more of an estimate.
Treatments are generally performed at approximately 6 to 8 weeks apart. We tend to start with shorter intervals and extend them with time. It is important to allows the body time to remove the tattoo pigment particles between sessions. The interval can be extended when necessary but not reduced as this can increase the chance of scarring. At Body Recon, we like to treat with as high laser energy level as safely possible- reducing the number of sessions and giving you a quicker and better result.
Will the tattoo be completely gone?
100% removal of the tattoo pigment is not always possible but is achievable in most cases.
Patience is required and it can be a timely exercise to completely remove a tattoo.
What is involved in laser tattoo removal? Will it hurt?
Firstly, a consultation and test patch is required with one of our laser technicians. They will discuss with you the ins and outs of laser tattoo removal. From here, we do a small pulse on the tattoo to ensure that you will have a good response and to avoid any complications or adverse affects. We leave the patch test for approximately one week and from there can begin your first treatment.
You will be given some topical anaesthetic cream; this is made especially for Body Recon and is the strongest on the market. Most of the time this can be applied by yourself at home, 30 minutes before your treatment.
Some people may choose to forego anaesthesia but it is recommended. Laser tattoo removal without the anaesthetic cream is painful. The removal itself is extremely quick so prolonged discomfort is not an issue. At Body Recon we use a cooling device, which blows refrigerated air (at -30 degrees C) on the treatment area, helping to counteract the sensation of heat. Following the treatment you won’t experience any prolonged discomfort although there may be a mild throbbing sensation for a short while on more delicate areas (breast, face etc.)
What’s new with tattoo removal?
New modalities and techniques are always being developed with tattoo removal. Most recently, the combination of fractionated laser before the q-switch treatment has been shown to be very effective. Fractional laser works by “drilling” into the tattoo, partially ablating some of the ink but also allowing a deeper more effective absorption of q-switch laser. This also helps with any scar tissue that may form when using high powered energy. There has been a lot of research into a technique called the R20 method. This involves an initial deep fractionated laser treatment followed by two q-switch laser sessions with 10 minutes rest between sessions. The R20 method may not always be required for all patients but is a great way to increase results and allow for a quicker result.
What will my skin look like after treatment?
The tattoo may appear slightly raised and frosted (white) in appearance immediately after the laser treatment. This is the skin’s protective mechanism- we create enough of a response in the ink particles that the skin tries to shield itself from further destruction. There may be surrounding skin redness, and there may be some pinpoint bleeding. An antibiotic cream will be applied after the treatment. Do not pick at any scabs formed by the treatment and keep the treated area out of direct sunlight or apply sunscreen if exposure cannot be avoided.
It usually takes 1 to 3 weeks to completely heal and the treated skin may appear like a wound/scab during this time. We advise that you keep the area protected and apply Bepanthen ointment regularly to keep it moist until the scabs fall off.
Some patients may experience itching in the treatment area in the weeks after laser tattoo removal, if this becomes unbearable a mild over the counter hydrocortisone can be applied between treatment sessions.
Will I scar?
As with any laser treatment, there is a very small chance of scarring. The laser is attracted primarily to the tattoo pigment and hence damage and scarring to the normal skin is minimal. An advantage of using the fractionated laser in conjunction with q-switched is that it creates a micro wound in the skin allowing breakdown of any scar tissue that has/may form. This is not common practice in most other salons or clinics.
Occasionally, there are some textural changes to the skin. You may find that there is a slight difference in colour (lighter) of the treated areas to adjacent skin. The likelihood of this occurring increases with an increased number of treatments. Loss of pigmentation (hypopigmentation) is a common occurrence post laser tattoo removal; in this case the area of skin may appear whiter than the rest. In most cases the skin pigmentation returns to normal within a year.
Can I tattoo a new design over the same area once the tattoo has been removed?
Yes, it is possible to have the same area re-tattooed if you wish once the original tattoo has been removed. The area will need to heal completely before this can be done. Laser tattoo removal can be used to fade or remove a tattoo prior to having it tattooed over. It’s very important to follow your laser technician’s advice when fading and redesigning tattoos.
Can I remove a tattoo that has just been applied?
Yes, it is possible to remove tattoos that have just been applied. This is relevant for tattoos that have been wrongly applied or for those who are immediately dissatisfied.
What about cosmetic tattoos?
Cosmetic tattoos or ‘permanent make-up’ can be removed with laser treatment. Tattooed eyebrows and lip liner can be removed or faded. The laser used to remove these pigments can also remove hair (but only temporarily) and this can be a problem for some patients when removing eyebrow tattoos.
Furthermore, with cosmetic tattoos, it is possible for a shift in colour to occur, e.g a pink lip liner tattoo may become dark green or black. Although this darker colour can still be treated with laser, it may not be aesthetically pleasing during the period of removal. Therefore test patching on a small area may be advised in some cases. An alternative form of tattoo removal using our Erbium laser can be performed if a colour shift is suspected. The Erbium laser works on the principle of vaporising a fine layer of skin with the tattoo in it.
How much will it cost?
Tattoo removal cost is determined by size and complexity of the tattoo (dye handpieces require more time per sessions as this is a slower process.) Our prices are very competitive. We are also able to package your tattoo removal if you are wanting to pay upfront for a number of sessions or have multiple tattoos removed at once.
Why should I choose Body Recon as my provider of laser tattoo removal?
- At Body Recon, we use the latest laser technology to perform your treatment:
We have the highest powered laser system on the market, emitting 1.6j of energy. Some other systems only emit 1j then double pulse with .6j of energy, however the body won’t absorb the second pulse. We combine fractionated laser with tattoo removal which works by “drilling” into the tattoo, partially ablating some of the ink but also allowing a deeper, more effective absorption of q-switch laser. The fractional also helps to break down any scar tissue which may form when using high powered energy. We also have adapted the R20 method that involves an initial deep fractionated laser treatment followed by two q-switch laser sessions with 10minutes rest between sessions. The R20 method may not always be required but is a great way to achieve a better result with fewer sessions.
- We have the most effective pain reduction technology, with topical anaesthetic and refrigerated air, and in some cases local anaesthetic injections.
- Our laser technicians are all highly experienced and will be able to give you the best advice for your treatment.
- You have the backup of a fully qualified Plastic Surgeon: Dr Richard Rahdon.
The first step is to make an appointment for your laser tattoo removal consultation, where we will discuss what is a realistic and achievable outcome and what to expect from your laser treatment.