Can't Call Us Now?
We'll call you to arrange your consultation.
your name
your phone number
your email (optional)

020 7435 7521

The Private Skin Laser Clinic
Dermatology Department,
Clinic 6 First Floor,
Royal Free Hospital
Pond Street,
London, NW3 2QG

How To Find Us

Laser Tattoo Removal

Laser treatment is a popular technique used to fade and remove unwanted tattoos. The success of the treatments depends on type of tattoo and the ink used.

We use a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser to fade tattoos. This has two separate wavelengths so that different coloured inks can be treated. The bright light of the laser heats up the tattoo ink and causes it to fade.

The fading is slow and many treatments are usually required. Black ink absorbs all the laser light and therefore does the best. Some coloured inks are very tough and will not fade with any laser. Green ink usually falls into this category. Amateur indian ink tattoos respond very well to treatment. Multi coloured professional tattoos do less well.

The laser uses a powerful light beam to damage the ink under the skin. There is no cutting of the skin.

The tattoo ink soaks up the beam's energy and gets extremely hot for a fraction of a second. This is enough to break up the ink causing it to fade slowly. Over the next few weeks the body can clear these small particles of ink. When these are out of the way the laser beam can shine down to the next layer of ink. Allow at least a month between treatments.

The laser fires in rapid bursts, these feel a bit like the spatter of hot fat from a frying pan. It is uncomfortable, like having the tattoo put on. You may choose to use an anaesthetic cream on the skin one hour before the treatment. This is called Ametop and is available without prescription.

The tattoo will feel hot for a while afterwards, and it will probably be red and swollen for the rest of the day. Very dark, or large professional tattoos, will remain tender and swollen for a few days. Occasionally this is followed by a scab or crust. The tattoo will not look a lot different, but over the next few weeks it will fade a little. This may not be obvious until you return to compare it with the photographs.

The laser light can seriously damage eyes, so everyone in the laser suite will have to wear protective goggles. This is an important safety precaution. You risk blindness by attempting to view the treatment without goggles, this also applies to anyone you ask to accompany you during treatment.

Scarring is unlikely but can occur.

If it does occur it is usually in the form of some change in texture of the skin. This is more likely if you pick any scabs. There can also be some loss of natural skin pigment in the treated area, which usually improves with time. The chances of it happening can be reduced by keeping the area as pale as possible throughout the course of treatment.

A tattoo on black skin before and after 10 treatments showing some pigment loss
another example showing patchy pigment loss

Not all tattoo inks respond and certain colours can get worse. Heavy professional tattoos in particular may not completely go, with some colour remaining and the rest left very faint. Modern coloured inks are pigment based and made of potentially toxic chemicals; the consequences of treating these with laser light are unknown.

A sun tan gets in the way of the laser light, so avoid the sun, or use a strong sun block, before and during treatment. Keep the area to be treated as pale as possible.

Be gentle with the treated area until it has settled down so as to minimise the risk of scars. It should not need a dressing as long as you can avoid picking and scratching.

If blisters form they should be left to resolve naturally, you may have to protect them with a dressing.

If the treated area does not improve from day to day then contact the clinic for further advice.

Costs depend on the size and type of tattoo, see below for some guidelines.

A small one inch tattoo such as this chinese symbol costs £80 for each treatment. The whole tattoo is treated at each visit. The treatment is repeated every month or two. After eight treatments the charge is reduced to £60.
This forearm tattoo costs £120 for the first eight treatments and then £90 for any subsequent treatments. Some of these colours will not fade, even with multiple treatments.

Is laser tattoo removal for me?

If after studying the information here your consider laser tattoo removal
maybe be an option for you, then call 020 7435 7521 to arrange a consultation.

Dr Clayton commenting on facial tattoos in The Guardian.

"Dr Clayton interviewed on Radio 4 Inside Health."

Video of laser treatment