The three worst tattoo removal methods

Australia has one of the highest rates of tattoos in the world, with over 26% of people over the age of 25 having at least one tattoo.  The majority of patients are happy with their tattoos, however, a minority of patients truly regret having a tattoo.  With the explosion in the tattoo industry, there has been an explosion in tattoo removal methods.  Here are the top three tattoo removal treatments you should never attempt.

1.  Dermabrasion. 
Dermabrasion essentially means the use of sandpaper.  This can either be a course grit sandpaper or a diamond-headed roller which we use medically.  Dermabrasion was a treatment for tattoos 50 years ago, however, in today’s world, it would be highly recommended not to undertake this procedure.

Dermabrasion will remove a tattoo, however, in 100% of cases, it will leave a scar. Historically this procedure was performed in an operating theatre under full or partial sedation. Recovery following dermabrasion for tattoo removal approached 4-6 weeks!

2.  Glycolic acid, together with microneedling.  

This has become a popular trend which has gone to the scale of pyramid level marketing.  In Australia, this procedure is not restricted to doctors, we have seen dentists and even vets attempting this procedure!

This involves microneedling the area followed by the application of glycolic acid. Once again, this procedure may be successful, however, scarring occurs in over 90% of cases, and is certainly not our recommended tattoo removal procedure of choice. Not only does this procedure cause scarring, the healing time approaches 2-3 weeks following microneedling – acid peeling for tattoo removal.

3.  TCA peels

This method is probably the most dangerous and noticed with the use of homemade TCA or trichloroacetic acid.  TCA can be brought over the Internet for around $20.  Most patients opt for a high range of TCA, namely 100%, whereas specialists often use 30% to 35% for full face exfoliation of sun damage and wrinkles. 100% will treat deep ice pick acne scars.

The use of TCA on tattoos will often result in delayed skin healing, often lasting three to four weeks. Additionally, scarring can be seen in over 95% of cases.  The scarring from TCA cross is usually more exaggerated than scarring from other techniques as hypertrophic or keloid scarring may recur. Healing time following TCA tattoo removal is approximately 3-8 weeks, depending on the tattoo site, and concentration of acid.

In today’s day and age, the use of lasers is the Gold Standard for tattoo removal.  Practitioners performing chemical peels, dermabrasion, microneedling, glycolic acid peels should all be considered as negligent as there are dozens of scientific papers that show that laser removal of unwanted tattoo ink provides the safest most reliable treatment for tattoo removal.

Depending on the type of tattoo, the location, the colour of ink, the patient’s ethnic background, site of the tattoo and most importantly the immune system, patients often require between 5 to 15 treatments for removal.  In some cases, only two to three treatments are needed for fading, especially with newer generation tattoo removal lasers.

If you have an unwanted tattoo and would like it removed, please book in for a free consultation with one of our Unink specialists at Garden City or Chermside.

Remember, tattoo removal should be scarless! Technology, specialist training and ultra-modern equipment have allowed us to reach the pinnacle of scar-free tattoo removal.

Get in touch on 07 3849 2759