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Tattoo Removal

A tattoo may seem like a good idea at the time, but you may regret the decision later on. Over 20% of British adults reportedly have tattoos, rising to almost 30% among those aged 16-44. Recent studies have revealed that one third of tattooed adults regretted their tattoo.

Leading plastic surgeons and dermatologists regard laser as the superior gold standard method for the removal of an unwanted amateur and professional tattoos.

No single laser can remove all types of tattoo ink. It is best to have as many colours of laser light as possible to ensure superior results.

Before treatment

During treatment

Almost completed

Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic offers 5 laser systems to ensure optimal tattoo removal:

  • Active Q switched Nd:Yag 1064nm for the removal of black, dark blue, white, grey and brown ink
  • Active Q switched Ruby 694nm for the treatment of black, blue and green ink
  • Active Q switched KTP 532nm for the treatment of red, dark blue, orange and purple ink
  • Active Q switched 585nm for the treatment of blue, sky blue and purple ink
  • Active Q switched 650nm for the treatment of green, sky blue and yellow ink

Our lasers are actively Q switched – delivering a single high-powered laser pulse in durations as short as 5 nanoseconds. All our lasers use large spot sizes up to 8mm.

With our expert Tattoo Removal process, our lasers deliver up to 1.6 joules of energy per pulse.

Our treatments are delivered with forced cold air skin cooling reducing discomfort and skin damage.

We have delivered over 20,000 tattoo removal procedures over a 20-year period.

We are a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered clinic that is regularly inspected and assessed by government. This is the best indicator available that the clinic is trustworthy.

It is estimated that our tattoo removal lasers are up to 10 times more effective at tattoo shattering per pulse than cheap equipment and deliver up to 16 times more energy.

All procedures at Cambridge Skin & laser Clinic are performed by fully qualified doctors and nurses. We do not employ therapists of technicians to operate our laser systems. To ensure the highest ethical standards are maintained at all times, staff at Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic are never offered bonus incentives to sell treatments.

How does the laser work?

Tattoo ink particles are too large for the body’s immune system to remove naturally because when tattoo pigment is injected into the lower layers of the skin (dermis) it becomes locked away by a wall of collagen fibres. Q-switched lasers produce very short bursts of high energy laser light. The light is absorbed by the large ink particles, generating heat that shatters the tattoo pigment into minute particles which the body is able to remove. Because the laser energy is selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink, the surrounding skin doesn’t overheat and there is no lasting damage.

What happens during consultation?

Initially a full medical history is taken to exclude any contraindications to laser tattoo removal.

Thereafter, six main considerations are explored in detail by the laser practitioner.

The patients skin type is assessed according to the Fitzpatrick Classification. This is important because as the skin type darkens, longer laser wavelengths are required to ensure minimal energy absorption by melanin. For Fitzpatrick Skin Types IV – VI we recommend the use of a Q switched Nd :Yag 1064nm laser with gentle settings and extra skin cooling to reducing the risk of pigmentation disturbance.

Fitzpatrick Classification Skin Appearance Skin Colour
Type I Always burns, never tans
Type II Always burns, sometimes tans
Type III Sometimes burns, always tans
Type IV Rarely burns, always tans
Type V Moderately pigmented
Type VI Black skin

The size of the tattoo is assessed in detail enabling accurate pricing. In general the larger the tattoo the greater the work required and hence the higher the price per session. Our pricing schedule relates to solid blocks of tattoo pigment and not tattoo size. If you require a more accurate pricing prior to consultation please contact us directly.

The colours of ink used within the tattoo will often determine the complexity of removal, as multi-coloured tattoos usually require the use of multiple laser wavelengths for effective results.

The age of the tattoo may be a significant factor in determining the ease of the removal process.Untreated tattoos tend to naturally fade and slowly blur over time as tattoo ink tends to sink deeper into the dermis and the body’s immune system attempts to remove the untreated tattoo.

In general, an older tattoo will take fewer sessions to remove than a new tattoo. The location of the tattoo is a significant factor and often tattoos in areas of the body that have excellent blood supply and lymphatic drainage respond more rapidly to laser treatment.In general, the closer the tattoo is to the heart the easier the tattoo removal process. Tattoos located on the upper arm, chest or neck usually respond more quickly to laser treatment than those on the ankles and feet.

The removal of a professional tattoo (performed using a tattoo gun usually in a tattoo studio) is generally more complex and time consuming than an amateur tattoo (performed using Indian ink and a needle often at home)Professional tattoos consist of various coloured pigments that are of high ink density injected at a uniform depth of approximately 1mm in the dermis of the skin.

Amateur tattoos are performed using a needle dipped into ink and inserted into the skin. The depth and density of the ink is usually less.

How many treatments are required to remove a tattoo?

Most amateur tattoos require 3 to 5 treatment sessions at monthly intervals. Most professional tattoos require 8 to 12 treatment sessions at monthly intervals.

What are the costs likely to be?

The cost of each session depends on the size and colour of the tattoo. The total cost of the tattoo removal depends on the number of treatments needed and this varies considerably from patient to patient. Prices start from £60 per session.

Do all tattoos respond to treatment?

In the majority of cases we are able to remove most tattoos. No one laser can remove all types of tattoo ink; this is why we use 5 different lasers on site to ensure optimal results.

How long does it take and does it hurt?

Typical treatment sessions last between 5 and 40 minutes depending on the size of the tattoo.

The lasers do cause discomfort during treatment, similar to being “snapped” with a rubber band. Most patients equate the pain of tattoo removal with the pain of getting the tattoo. Some areas are more sensitive than others, such as ankles and the shoulder blade. The pain tends to decrease as treatment progresses and the tattoo ink fades.

Skin cooling using forced cold air reduces discomfort significantly.

Most patients tolerate the pain during treatment very well, but a local anaesthetic is available if required.

Are there any after-effects following treatment?

Redness and swelling may occur, similar to sunburn. This settles within a few days. Some patients may blister, which is quite normal and does not indicate potential scarring. Blistering does not require treatment and will usually clear within days.
The treated area should not be exposed to strong sunlight between sessions without the use of sunblock (SPF 30).

Does the treatment scar?

Our lasers are Q-switched, this means the lasers deliver high power in a very short pulse (billionths of a second!) ensuring there is normally no lasting damage to the skin. Very occasionally, mild changes in skin texture may occur.

Will the skin be normal when the treatment is finished?

For all skin types both tattoo ink and the skin pigment melanin absorb laser light. This can result in the skin appearing paler (de-pigmented) or rarely darker (hyper-pigmented) during the treatment process. These changes are not usually permanent and the skin colour usually returns to normal within months.
Darker skinned patients often notice some lightening of the skin (de-pigmentation)

This usually returns to normal in 6 to 18 months.

We tend to limit treatment for darker skinned patients to the Nd Yag 1064nm laser as the risk of pigment change is less.

Who performs the treatment?

All procedures at Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic are performed by fully qualified doctors and nurses. We do not employ therapists or technicians to operate our laser systems.

We have been operating high-powered Q switched lasers for over 20 years and have delivered in excess of 20,000 successful tattoo removal treatments

Is laser treatment safe?

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the treatment can lead to skin disorders or an increased risk of cancer. Our laser centre is registered with the Care Quality Commission ensuring the highest level of safety for the patient. Our lasers are cleared by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have full CE clearance for Europe.

Active Q Switching

Our active Q switched lasers deliver a single high-energy pulse. This is important because only the 1st pulse is able to shatter the tattoo pigment, leaving water vapour behind forming a frosted white appearance.

Tattoo_Fig5

This white reaction creates an optical shield and subsequent pulses stacked in the same area only have the effect of heating the skin resulting in thermal damage.

Tattoo_Fig4

We are able to deliver a calibrated dose of light with each shot so all of the laser energy is available to shatter the tattoo pigment with minimal skin heating. By accurately placing single shots without overlap we ensure optimal energy is evenly distributed over the tattoo. Any excess heat is removed by skin cooling using forced cold air.

Passive Q Switching

Cheaper lasers produce a smaller pulse of energy that is delivered rapidly (like a machine gun) into the skin at 10 shots per second. It is impossible to accurately control shot placement and subsequent overlapping overdoses the skin causing heat damage.

Active Q switching is like effectively using a large hammer to hit a stone with a single hard blow
Passive Q switching is like ineffectively using a small hammer to lightly tap the stone repeatedly

Spot Size

Our high-powered lasers enable larger spot sizes up to 8mm. The larger the spot size the deeper the energy can be placed.

High single pulse energy and large spot sizes enable much deeper penetration depths and effective treatment of deep lying tattoo pigment.

Tattoo_Fig3

Cheaper lasers typically have a 1mm spot size and hence treatment is limited to superficial targets.

Pulse Width

Maximal temperatures reached inside a treated tattoo particle are estimated to be 900 degrees centigrade. The durations for which the skin can tolerate these incredible temperatures is very short, hence our lasers use extremely short pulse widths (shutter speeds) of typically 5 billionths of a second. Short pulse widths ensure heat damage to the skin is minimal.

We also provide protective skin cooling using forced cold air to ensure any unwanted heat transferred to the skin is quickly removed.

Wavelength

No single laser can remove all types of tattoo ink. Professional multi-coloured tattoos contain a variety of inks and dyes with each colour often made of a range of individual pigments. At least 60 trade colours from 18 chemical compounds exist. Colours that appear visually similar will often respond differently to laser depending on the pigment mix. This is further complicated by the fact that many older tattoos contain heavy metal salts leading to variable or inconsistent responses.

Tatto_Fig2

As different inks and different colours react in diverse ways to laser light best results are achieved with as many colours of laser light as possible.

The best absorption of a particular laser colour (wavelength) is achieved in its complementary colour.

At Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic the following colours of laser light are available:

  • Nd:Yag 1064nm (Invisible Infrared) for the removal of black, dark blue, white, grey and brown ink
  • Ruby 694nm (Deep Red Light) for the treatment of black, blue and green ink
  • KTP 532nm (Green Light) for the treatment of red, dark blue, orange and purple ink
  • 585nm (Yellow Light) for the treatment of blue, sky blue and purple ink
  • 650nm (Red Light) for the treatment of green, sky blue and yellow ink

Other methods are available to remove tattoos without the use of a laser. Unfortunately they usually carry high risks of complications and often deliver poor results.

Organic Creams

These chemical irritants encourage the body to stimulate an inflammatory reaction resulting in ejection of the cream and the ink. The result is a high risk of scarring, usual depigmentation and considerably long recovery time.

Surgery

Skin grafting involves surgical excision of the tattoo followed by removal of skin from another area of the body to treat the original wound. The result is 2 separate areas of scarring.

Dermabrasion

This involves stripping off layers of skin either superficially or deep down into the dermis in an attempt to remove the tattoo pigment. The result ranges from partial thickness to full thickness scarring.

Acid Tattooing

Acids can remove tattoo pigment either by bleaching the skin or by expulsion of the tattoo ink during the acid burn healing process. The result is usually high levels of scarring and pigment change and only partial removal of the tattoo.

Camouflage

Although not removal, this cover up method is a temporarily effective measure to disguise the presence of an unwanted tattoo.

Price per session
2 x 2 cm £50
3 x 3 cm £60
4 x 4 cm £70
5 x 5 cm £80
6 x 6 cm £90
7 x 7 cm £100
8 x 8 cm £110
8 x 10 cm £120

Please Note: Prices quoted are per session and are an approximate guide only. If you require a more accurate pricing prior to consultation, please contact us directly.

Prices are normally fixed for session 1 to 10, sessions 11 to 15 are at a reduced price if the area needing treatment is significantly reduced.

Although laser treatment may seem expensive, one must bear in mind the enormous acquisition and maintenance costs of the laser devices.

I had tattoos done on both forearms in the early seventies. I still can’t imagine why I had them done; it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a big mistake! As time went by I felt more and more embarrassed by them. I would always wear long sleeve shirts, even in hot weather. I started having laser treatment in 2000 at a laser clinic in London using a Yag and Ruby laser and the treatment lasted for about half an hour. The tattoos gradually began to fade after about a year. The laser clinic closed down in about 2002 and I went to another laser clinic in North London and then in Harley Street. The clinic in North London only used Ruby lasers and over a period of time they began to fade even more until I was left with only green pigment in the skin, the hardest colour to remove.

I have now been attending Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic and the new equipment that is now in use has made a dramatic difference. Now after nearly seven years they are nearly gone with only slight touching up required and I am very pleased with the result.

Peter from Cambridge

I went for laser tattoo removal for a few treatments at a clinic in Northamptonshire. It hurt like hell, bled a lot and scabbed over afterwards. I started coming to Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic privately because it was nearer and that’s when I discovered Cryo and realised that laser tattoo removal doesn’t have to hurt.

Also I don’t get the bleeding and scabs because the Cryo protects yours skin. CSL also have different laser types for different colours so after a course of treatment here my tattoo has virtually gone. I am very pleased with the results.

Sarah From Huntingdon

I am a 58 year old man with amateur tattoos on both hands and arms. These were done by myself at the age of 15, when I was easily led by others. By the age of 18, I joined the RAF and it was then that I started to become self conscious. Upon leaving the forces 5 years later, my thoughts were now concentrated on a new career. I knew that the tattoos would now be a bigger problem.

Upon interview for a Police Officer several years later my application was declined because of them. After seven treatments at the laser clinic people are now commenting on how different they are to see. This has boosted my confidence and made me more comfortable in social environments. I am predicted another two treatments, by which time my hands will be completely clear.

KH

Just a note to say a BIG THANK YOU. My tattoo removal has honestly changed things in my life, i.e. my confidence. I have worn T-shirts for the first time in 15 years – it’s great. It means so much to me and Claire and Oliver. Thank you.

MO
All consultations are free of charge so why not call our team of experts today?
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