Tattoos have traditionally been regarded as enduring symbols of personal expression and identity. However, recent advancements in technology and shifting societal attitudes are transforming how we perceive and interact with tattoos. 

Innovations such as removable inks and refined laser removal methods are altering the once “permanent” nature of tattoos. This shift is significant as it caters to a growing demographic that seeks the aesthetic and personal expression of tattoos without the lifetime commitment. 

As societal attitudes shift and the demand for flexibility in body art grows, laser removal technology has advanced significantly. The refinement of laser removal methods means that tattoos can be removed more effectively and with fewer sessions, making the process less daunting and more accessible. 

Meet Dr Anita Soosay of The Aesthetics Centre Singapore

Top Reasons For Tattoo Removal

With the rise in popularity of tattoos comes the wave of people wanting to remove the ink they have. Thanks to tattoo removal solutions becoming more advanced and accessible, shedding your ink has never been more convenient. Meanwhile, here are some of the most common motivations behind tattoo removal. Note that this is a personal decision, and the reasons can be as unique as the individuals themselves.

  • Regret and Evolving Identity: Tastes change, life evolves, and relationships end. People may outgrow their tattoos or simply decide the design doesn’t suit them anymore.
  • Faded Ink: Tattoos don’t stay eternally crisp. Instead of a cherished memento, the tattoo becomes a faded reminder that might be better off erased.
  • Career Considerations: While tattoos are becoming more accepted in workplaces, some industries still hold on to conservative dress codes and those seeking career advancement might opt for removal to avoid potential bias.
  • Making Room for More Ink: Sometimes, it’s not about saying goodbye, but hello! People might crave a complete revamp or a larger piece that incorporates the old design. Removal allows them to create a fresh canvas for their artistic vision.

 

Old School (Usually Painful) Tattoo Removal Methods

Before lasers, people seeking tattoo removal had to endure some pretty rough methods. These included salabrasion, excision with caustic chemicals, scarification, and tattooing over. 

  • Salabration is a method that uses a rough salt solution to lightly scrub away at the tattoo.
  • Excision with caustic chemicals involved cutting away the tattooed skin and burning away any remaining pigment with harsh chemicals.
  • Scarification meant intentionally creating scar tissue over the tattoo to obscure the design, often using fire, hot irons, or harsh chemicals.
  • Tattooing over, or tattooing a new design over the old one, which could result in a muddled, awkward design that you didn’t want in the first place. 

The first three methods mentioned typically leave significant and often uneven scars. What’s more, these procedures carry the potential for infection. Thankfully, with advancements in laser technology, such desperate measures are no longer necessary.

 

Newer (Less Painful) Tattoo Removal Options

There are three types of newer tattoo removal options—cosmetic/topical, non-laser, and laser. Unfortunately, there aren’t any truly effective topical or cosmetic options for tattoo removal. 

While many creams and lotions are marketed for this purpose, they generally fall short because of limited penetration, ineffective ingredients or unrealistic promises. What can be done is to cover the tattoo with make-up for a temporary solution that needs to be reapplied often.

Non-laser tattoo removal procedures are a growing area, but it’s important to approach them with a cautious eye. Rejuvi involves using a saline solution and a microneedling device to penetrate the skin and supposedly draw out the tattoo pigment. Meanwhile, Tattoo Vanish utilises a proprietary topical solution applied to the tattoo along with a specialised tool to break down ink particles for removal by the body.

However, there is limited scientific evidence to support the claims of these two methods, and the safety and efficacy remain unclear.

 

Laser Tattoo Removal

While not totally painless, laser tattoo removal remains the gold standard for safe and effective tattoo removal with well-established protocols and documented results. It works by utilising concentrated beams of light to break down the ink particles trapped within your skin’s dermis layer. The body then naturally eliminates these fragmented particles over time. 

Q-Switched Lasers are the workhorse of tattoo removal. They emit short, powerful pulses of light that shatter the tattoo ink particles without significantly damaging the surrounding skin. They come in various wavelengths, each targeting specific ink colours effectively. A qualified laser technician will select the most appropriate wavelength based on your tattoo’s colours. 

Due to the way Q-switched lasers break down ink, it typically takes multiple treatment sessions spaced out over several weeks or months to achieve complete removal. The number of sessions depends on various factors like ink colour, tattoo size, and depth.

Picosecond Lasers are a newer type of laser used in tattoo removal. They deliver ultra-short pulses of light measured in picoseconds (trillionths of a second). While still under research, picosecond lasers show promise in several areas. Their ultra-short pulses might break down ink particles more effectively compared to Q-switched lasers. This could potentially lead to fewer treatment sessions for complete removal and reduced discomfort during the procedure

It is important to note that picosecond lasers are not necessarily a replacement for Q-switched lasers, but rather offer a potentially more refined approach. They might be particularly suitable for stubborn inks or delicate areas.

Choosing the right laser depends on several factors, including your specific tattoo, skin type, and desired outcome. A dermatologist or qualified laser technician can assess your situation and recommend the most appropriate laser technology for you.

 

The Takeaway

When considering laser tattoo removal, note that a consultation with a qualified professional is crucial as they can discuss your expectations, assess your tattoo and skin, and explain the procedure details, including potential risks and side effects.

While it’s true that some discomfort can be expected from a laser tattoo removal procedure, topical numbing creams and cooling devices are used to help manage the discomfort. Depending on your pain tolerance, your doctor might recommend pain medication before or after the procedure. Lastly, following the recommended aftercare instructions is key to optimal healing and reducing the risk of infection. Attending the scheduled follow-up visit is equally important.

Here at The Aesthetics Centre (TAC) Singapore, we use the PicoWay laser tattoo removal device by Syneron Candela, which is able to tackle simple to complex tattoos. Most of the cases we handle here at the clinic are small, black-ink tattoos, which in our experience bring superb results and high client satisfaction. To manage client expectations, please note that large, multi-coloured tattoos take considerably longer treatments, require more sessions, and incur higher costs and longer downtimes.

Are you looking for a safe and effective laser tattoo removal in Singapore? The Aesthetics Center Singapore is at your service. Contact us at +65 6820 3308 or +65 6820 3309 for more information or book an appointment with us today!

 

Read: Tattoo Removal: Are Lasers the Way to Go?


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