Tattoo Removal Methods – The Ones That Work And The Ones To Avoid

At the time, a tattoo seems like such a great idea.  From choosing the design to the anticipation of the first ink mark, getting a tattoo is an exciting life experience.  But for many people, that excitement can start to fade… as they start to wish the tattoo would too.

Tattoo regret is quite common.  Sometimes those feelings are down to a poor design choice and other times they can be attributed to something quite simple like a marriage or relationship break up.  There is a lesson to be learned here – if you are going to have the name of your loved one permanently etched on your skin, make sure they are for keeps!

If you are starting to regret your tattoo or you have had a bad skin reaction to the pigment used, you may have started to look into tattoo removal methods.  Where once tattoos were permanent and taken to the grave, there are now ways to fade tattoos until they become a distant memory. But which methods are the best, which are ineffective and which should be avoided at all costs?

Tattoo Removal Methods – What Is Available?

Okay, so now you know you are not necessarily stuck with that embarrassing or conspicuous tattoo, it’s time to look into removal methods. The good news is that due to popular demand, there are many tattoo removal options available.  If a tattoo is stopping you from landing a job, dictating the clothes you wear or causing you embarrassment, choosing one of these methods could help you to get on with your life again.

Tattoo Removal

1. Laser Tattoo Removal

This is by far the most common means of tattoo removal.  These treatments break down the pigment in a tattoo eventually fading it away to almost nothing.  The laser itself focuses on the ink in your skin which is broken down into tiny pieces and then carried away by your immune system’s scavenger cells.  Some colours are more difficult to remove than others, but a consultation with your laser therapist will give you an idea of what to expect and how many treatments you will need.

The procedure can be a little painful but certainly no more painful than what you experienced getting the tattoo in the first place.  A local anaesthetic cream will be applied to the area to be treated beforehand and sessions are scheduled a few weeks apart to allow for healing.

The benefits of laser tattoo removal include:

  • More effective than creams and skin dermabrasion
  • Safe when administered by a trained therapist
  • Available in many clinics across the UK

If you are interested in laser tattoo removal, there are many trained therapists offering these services. The problem is there are far too many beauty salons offering laser light therapy treatments, whether or not they have the trained and experienced professionals for the job.  Where laser therapy is concerned it is more important than ever to find an experienced and certified therapist.  Laser treatment in the wrong hands could cause irreversible scarring and severe pain.  However, laser tattoo removal continues to be the most effective means of removing a tattoo and you may only require a small number of sessions to get the best results.

2.  Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a tattoo removal method still in use today, and was the most popular tattoo removal method before laser removal came along.  However, there are some instances where laser therapy is not an option for a patient and where dermabrasion may be a feasible alternative.

Dermabrasion is exactly what its name suggests – the removal of skin layers in order to remove the tattoo.  The area containing the tattoo is sprayed with an anaesthetic spray before a grinding tool is used to remove several layers of skin through abrasive friction.  The difference between laser therapy and dermabrasion is that the laser can be directed at the tattoo itself whilst dermabrasion takes away healthy unaffected skin.

In your search for the perfect tattoo removal system, you may also come across salabrasion.  This is a technique much like dermabrasion except that a salt water solution is applied to the tattooed area before abrasion begins.

3.  Excision

Excision is probably the quickest method of tattoo removal, but is also the most extreme.  This surgical tattoo removal procedure involves the tattoo being cut out of the skin.  The skin is then sewn back together and allowed to heal.  Of course, with this method of removal you can expect obvious scarring and there is also a greater risk of infection.  Smaller tattoos can be removed fairly easily using this procedure, but larger tattoos require more time and may even require skin grafts from other areas of the body.

4.  Tattoo Removal Creams and Gels

When searching for tattoo removal methods online, you will almost certainly come across tattoo removal creams.  Whilst many claim to fade your tattoo until it disappears forever, none of these creams really work.  They are also very cheap which should give you some indication of their effectiveness.  In fact, many creams available online have been known to cause scarring and irreversible damage to the skin.  There is currently no regulation of these removal methods so if you do purchase one of these products you do so at your own risk.

5.  Saline Tattooing

This is a treatment offered by some tattoo artists in the UK, but you may have to search around.  A saline solution is tattooed over the unwanted tattoo to help fade the ink.  This works best with old tattoos and will cause fading rather than complete removal of the tattoo.  The good news is that this procedure is inexpensive, but with so few tattoo artists offering this service, it is difficult to gauge effectiveness.

6.  Makeup Cover Ups

Of course, if you don’t want to go through any procedures to remove your tattoo and simply want to choose when to hide it, makeup cover can work wonders.  However, the process of covering a tattoo and doing a good job can take time and isn’t a procedure you will have time for every day.

As you can see, there are many ways to remove a tattoo, but the most effective method does appear to be laser tattoo removal.  Whilst your tattoo may not be removed completely, this method of removal is sensible, effective and safe when carried out by an experienced therapist.

Written by Dr.Donal McKeown, the head physician and owner of the Laserase Medical Skincare Clinic. He performs tattoo removal procedures in Belfast (, Northern Ireland.


I am the senior physician and owner of the Laserase Medical Skincare Clinic in Northern Ireland

2 thoughts on “Tattoo Removal Methods – The Ones That Work And The Ones To Avoid

  • November 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks for the share there John, very useful. I started looking in my local area of Exeter in Devon and found this site which has helped me out to start with. The article you linked too was very valuable thank you. I have also found a few interesting links on youtube now. Just need to raise a bit more cash as I am confident this is the way to go.


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