As a form of creative expression and sentimental values, tattoos are becoming increasingly mainstream within society across a wider demographic. 1 in 5 Aussies have one or more tattoos but 34% of those regret their decisions and are considering having them removed (Choice, 2017). There is less of a stigma around tattoos as influential figures like celebrities and sports figures have visible tattoos leading to a widespread prevalence. Despite reasons such as aesthetics, inspiration, religion and family for getting a tattoo, there is still a large number of people wanting to get them removed.
Australia is the second most tattooed nation in the world and more tattoos = more 'tattoo regret" leading to a significant increase of over 440% in tattoo removal over the past decade (No Ink, 2018). What was once a 'permanent' fixture on one's body can now be removed thanks to advancements in technology. This is a contributing factor to people's tattoo decisions today as they know it can always be removed due to widespread availability of tattoo removal services. Some people have even used tattoo removal as a way to fade their tattoo, allowing them to cover it with an updated one.
Making A Choice
In the same way that the reasons to get a tattoo vary, so do the reasons to remove them. From the horrors of misspelling or bad tattooing to regret such as the name of an ex! Although tattoo removal is demonstrated by celebrities in the media, the barriers of pain, costs, lack of motivation and medical risks are still stopping people from removing their tattoos.
Evolution of Tattoo Removal
Many businesses now specialise in laser tattoo removal while some skin clinics have a trained professional that can complete the treatment. It is important to look at reviews and ask for recommendations before getting a tattoo removed to check for safety and reliability. The more effective option is using a current Q-switched laser as it is less invasive.
How Q-Switched Nd:YAG Lasers Work
For the last 10 years Q-switch Nd:YAG most widely used device for the removal of tattoos. The Q-switch laser produces short, nano second long pulses of powerful energy that are attracted to the colours found in the ink of the tattoo. Q-switched tattoo removal lasers are able to safely treat the ink particles within a tattoo without damaging the surrounding tissue. When the beam of the laser strikes the ink in a tattoo, it shatters the ink into fine particles, which are then processed out through the body’s own natural filtration (lymphatic) system. There are different wavelengths that allow for treating a wide variety of inks on a full-colour spectrum.
What To Expect
Most clients will require 6-12 treatments to remove a tattoo, depending on the tattoo type, depth, colour and quality. Gaps of 6-8 weeks between treatments are generally recommended to allow the area time to heal properly. You can lighten a tattoo so a successful cover-up can be performed often involving fewer treatments. Tattoo removal treatment cost varies depending on the size of the tattoo but generally starts at between $99-150 for a 2x2cm area. Patients may experience some discomfort during the treatment however this can be minimised with the application of topical anaesthesia or ice to the area. There is no downtime, although it is recommended to stay out of direct sun following treatment.