Your questions about laser tattoo removal, answered by an expert
Ever wondered what’s involved in getting a tattoo removed?
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We spoke to Dr Jacinta Keoghan, Medical Director and Cosmetic Pysician at zecca, a Sydney-based cosmedical clinic specialising in laser tattoo removal, to get the lowdown…
How are tattoos actually removed?
"The most common way to remove tattoos is by laser. Today the gold standard laser for tattoo removal is the Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. Lasers target the tattoo ink with a specific wavelength of light energy that vibrates and shatters the tattoo ink into tiny micro-particles. These tiny ink particles are then eliminated through the body’s natural processes. Because the laser delivers the energy in a very precise ‘beam’, we are able to trace the design without damaging the surrounding skin."
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How many sessions would one generally need to remove a tattoo?
"Laser tattoo removal requires several sessions. On average, professional tattoos need six to 15 treatments, while amateur tattoos need four to six treatments spaced approximately four to six weeks apart. The number of treatments depends on the size of the tattoo, the amount and type of ink used, and the depth of the ink in the skin."
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Does the area in which the tattoo is placed or the age of the tattoo affect how many sessions needed/how affective the removal process is?
"The location of the tattoo does have some impact on the clearance rate. Generally speaking, tattoos on the forearms, hands and ankles take longer to remove. Likewise, generally speaking, the older the tattoo, the easier to remove, and the less number of sessions required."
Can you re-tattoo the same area once something has been removed?
"Yes, you can re-tattoo over the site where an old tattoo has been removed. Lasers will generally eliminate about 95 per cent of the tattoo."
How much does tattoo removal cost?
"The cost depends on the size of the tattoo, the location on the body and the colours of ink used. The cost on average ranges from $180 - $300 per session."
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Is there any downtime post-removal? If so, how long?
"After the first treatment, you notice a temporary whitening of the treated area. Over time, the tattoo will fade and the skin returns to a normal colour. There is no significant downtime, but the treated area may feel tender for a couple of days."
What are your thoughts on tattoos? Do you have any tattoos you’ve had removed or would want removed?