FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Updated: Apr 13
Now you’ve decided to remove or fade your tattoo you probably have some questions about the treatment.
All laser operators in Australia have a duty of care to uphold professional ethics toward our clients. Not only are we obligated to provide you with the “pros and cons” of laser tattoo removal we want you to feel confident that you’ve made the right choice.
At Unify Skin & Laser Clinic we follow strict treatment protocols and offer an obligation free consultation to assess your suitability, disclose the costs, discuss aftercare, the process of laser tattoo removal, estimated number of treatments required, appointment schedule and possible adverse side effects. After the consultation if you feel happy to proceed, we then perform a test spot to assess your skin reaction to the laser and set suitable treatment parameters for future treatment.
HOW DOES LASER TATTOO REMOVAL WORK?
Short powerful pulses of laser energy pass through the outer layers of skin known as the epidermis and penetrate the dermis where the tattoo ink is lodged. As laser energy is directed at the tattoo pigment, the energy disrupts the pigment and breaks it apart into tiny fragments. The pigment is then able to be absorbed by your body and eliminated naturally by your immune system.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
Removing your tattoos with a Q – switched laser will require several sessions. Sometimes as many as 5-12 sessions will be required and in some cases more. Tattoos consist of several layers of ink pigment; laser tattoo removal works by breaking down these ink particles layer by layer. In general, professional, and older tattoos need more treatments than freshly done and amateur tattoos.
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO MANY SESSIONS?
Everyone is as unique as their tattoo; many variables are involved and it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of sessions, some factors that influence the removal process are:
Your immune system: Everyone recovers and removes ink particles at their own pace. For some, it takes longer to remove the ink from their system and improving the health of your immune system can support the body to heal and eliminate the fragmented ink.
Location of the tattoo: tattoos on extremities and further away from the heart (legs, toes, arms, fingers) may take longer to remove as the circulation (blood and lymph) are generally slower compared to the body.
Professional tattoos usually contain more ink and are deeper compared to amateur tattoos.
Age of the tattoo: older tattoos are easier to remove than newer tattoos however in some cases older tattoos may have migrated to the deeper layers of the dermis or hypodermis and require more sessions.
We recommend waiting eight weeks for new tattoos to heal before starting removal.
Ink colour and density: The concentration of ink such as a black out tattoo or shading will affect the results. Dark outlines require more treatments than shading and some colours are more easily removed such as black, red, dark orange and dark blue.
Your skin type: Most people are treatable with lighter skin types have a higher success rate. During our consultation we will assess your Fitzpatrick Skin Type, the fairer your skin the safer the treatment, darker skin types require a more gently approach to avoid side effects. While you’re in the process of removing your tattoo with laser it’s extremely important to avoid any sun exposure in the area to keep your skin colour as light as possible and minimise the risk of side effects.
WHICH INK COLOURS ARE HARDER TO REMOVE?
Typically, green, brown, purple, light orange, and light blue tend to require more sessions to see results. The Q -switched laser we use is TGA approved and has four different wavelengths which can remove all colours even blues and greens that other lasers on the market will not completely remove. Light yellow and white colours are difficult and may not completely remove as the laser wavelengths may not be absorbed efficiently enough.
CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT THE TATTOO WILL BE COMPLETELY GONE?
No, however in most cases, tattoos can be completely removed. But over 100 different tattoo inks are used, and they are unregulated in Australia. Because of this, it’s a challenge to guarantee how effective any tattoo removal will be.
There are some benefits to spacing each session at least eight weeks apart however if you feel this process is taking longer than expected you can talk to one of our tattooists who can design a cover up as an option.
Fading happens overtime and our aim is to maintain the integrity of the skin and surrounding tissue. It’s a waiting game, experience tells me the longer between treatments as the tattoo begins to fade the better results you’ll see.
WILL I HAVE SCARS AFTER LASER TATTOO REMOVAL?
It is unusual to develop any scarring following laser treatment as all the tattoo lasers are only in contact with the skin for literally billionths of a second and so there is not enough time for a significant build-up of heat in the skin. The risk of scarring is less than 5% of treated clients, some clients will present with scarring within the tattoo because of a heavy handed or inexperienced tattooist or tattoo placement.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE TREATMENT?
Treatment with the Q-switched laser always produces an immediate whitening of the skin. This is due to the microscopic release of tiny steam bubbles in your skin. This change usually lasts only a few minutes before it disappears, it’s a sign that the treatment is working. The whitening effect is only seen in the early stages of tattoo removal when the ink is still dark.
Once the whitening on the treated area disappears, it is not unusual for the skin to develop some redness, swelling and look inflamed; this may last for several hours and is normal. Mild blisters may form and if this happens, we recommend you do not break the skin and allow the blister to heal naturally. The use of an antiseptic cream and hygienic dressings can be used to prevent infection until the skin heals.
It is unusual to develop any bleeding in the treated area at the power levels used, established during the test spot. However, occasionally higher levels may have to be used on certain tattoos, which may result in a little pinpoint bleeding. Usually all this requires, is a hygienic dressing following the procedure, using Aquaphor is recommended two to three times a day. The bleeding does not have any other harmful consequences and does not lead to scarring.
We recommend the use of Aloe Vera gel or Aquaphor to accelerate the healing process and help to eliminate the risk of scar formation. After your treatment we provide you with a take home after are pack which includes everything you need to care for your skin post treatment and reduce the risk of side effects. Aquaphor is beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by the laser treatment and itching which often occurs in the weeks after treatment. 1% hydrocortisone cream can be purchased from the chemist and applied during the itching phase if necessary.
DOES LASER TATTOO REMOVAL HURT?
As someone who has experienced this sensation, I’m very aware of the feeling of the laser being applied to your skin and can empathise if you’re feeling nervous or apprehensive. The sensation feels like a bit like a rubber band flicking on your skin, or the splatter of hot fat, it’s an uncomfortable treatment to receive but the good news is the discomfort is momentary. Most clients tolerate the treatment well, we use a cooling machine to cool the skin pre and post treatment which makes for a tolerable experience. If you do have a low pain threshold, there is an option of applying a topical anaesthetic gel one hour before your treatment. This numbing gel is formulated by our compound chemist and specifically for laser tattoo removal.
Usually there is no pain following the treatment, but if discomfort is experienced, pain relief in the form of Paracetamol may be taken and the area treated with an ice pack.
Our aim is to provide you with the most comfortable experience possible so you can achieve the results you want efficiently and without risk.
DOES LASER TATTOO REMOVAL HAVE ANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS?
With laser tattoo removal, you may experience redness and swelling, and some clients experience minor scabbing or blistering, particularly with colours. If you have a darker skin type you may experience temporary changes in skin colour such as hyperpigmentation (darkening of the area) or hypopigmentation (whitening of the area). Careful assessment of the skin and consultation using the Fitzpatrick Skin Typing assessment to determine treatment suitability as well as your adherence to aftercare instructions will help to ensure that your side effects are minimal, and temporary.
At Unify our commitment is to treat each client as an individual and provide the best possible results whilst protecting the health and integrity of the skin.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR LASER TATTOO REMOVAL?
Cost can range from $75 for an extra small tattoo up to $390 for an extra-large tattoo per session, custom quotes for larger tattoos are discussed during your consultation. However, as a skin specialist we do not recommend removing more than an A4 size tattoo in one session. Some clients feel generally unwell and slightly fatigued for a few days after the treatment while the lymphatic system goes to work eliminating the fragmented ink.
For more information about pricing and discounts contact us for a free consultation.
Choosing to remove a tattoo is a uniquely personal experience, there are many different reasons why you choose to remove a tattoo and we respect that it is often not an easy decision, or one you have taken lightly. However regardless of the reason or whether it is a complete removal or fading to make way for your new tattoo, it is our aim to work with you to get the best outcome possible.
BOOK YOUR FREE CONSULTION
At Unify Skin & Laser Clinic we offer payment options and answer all your questions before you start your sessions. Experience does count and we want you to know you’re in safe hands.