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  • Writer's pictureAlexia Rocha

Cosmetic Tattoo Removal: Understanding Your Options

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Cosmetic tattooing can be a great way to enhance your looks and reduce the need for a lengthy and tiresome regular makeup routine. In fact, it’s become one of the more popular forms of cosmetic treatment throughout Australia in recent years. It’s a relatively quick and easy way to help you look and feel your absolute best.

Unfortunately, this type of beauty treatment also has its down side. You may no longer like the look or you may have received a botched job you weren’t expecting. Also, the skin naturally changes over time and what might have looked good at one point in your life may not look as attractive later.

Botched Lip Tattoo

Lip Tattoo Removal

So if you’ve had cosmetic tattooing for your brows, lips or eyeliner or if you have a tattoo someplace else on your body that you want removed, what are your options? Are you stuck with this look forever? The answer is no. Most tattoos can be removed fairly easily and with minor discomfort. The key is finding the method that works best for your skin and tattoo type and the area of your body that’s involved.

Let’s take a look at the most popular options for tattoo removal….

Laser Removal

By far the most popular method of tattoo removal is using lasers. There are several types of lasers that can be used depending on the size and location of the tattoo and the number of colours involved. Generally, not all cosmetic tattoos can be removed by laser, this is due to colour. Some cosmetic pigments will not respond well to laser and may alter an existing tattoo. Caution needs to be carefully considered by your laser therapist to avoid an undesirable result.

No matter what type of laser is used or which part of the body is being addressed, the process is the same. The lymphatic system in your body naturally targets anything that it recognizes as a foreign substance and reacts to flush it out of your system. The pigments used in tattooing are too large to be naturally flushed out like this, which is why tattoos are usually considered permanent.

When a laser is used, it focuses a pinpoint beam of energy onto the skin which causes it to heat up. As the skin heats the pigment in the tattoo explodes and dissipates into tiny particles that can be successfully flushed out of your body by the lymphatic system.

Because the beam of the laser is so fine, it can be used to target any area, no matter how large or small, or even just to target part of a tattoo to make a more subtle change. The size of the tattoo and the type of ink used will dictate how many laser sessions will be required to achieve the results you are after. Your therapist will have a complete consultation before treatments begin in order to determine whether you are a good candidate and the best treatment option for you.

The laser procedure involves some discomfort, similar to the feeling of having a rubber band repeatedly snapped against your skin, and it will be necessary to follow some simple aftercare steps in order to maximise your results. You will have the option to apply topical numbing cream prior to treatment to make the procedure more comfortable.

In most cases, you will just need to keep the area clean and dry as it heals. Since the laser uses heat, you’ll notice redness and irritation to the skin as if it had been burned. This is normal and will fade over time. There may also be some blistering or the formation of a scab, which is also normal.

Saline Removal

The other main method used by most therapists is saline removal. This is particularly effective for cosmetic tattoos, which use iron oxide or organic pigments that are made up of much smaller particles than standard tattoo ink. Because of this composition, these inks don’t always respond well to laser treatment. With laser treatment these types of inks may simply become discoloured or gray rather than fading completely.

Unlike laser treatment, which breaks up the pigment into smaller particles, saline removal uses a carefully formulated saline solution to raise the pigment and draw it out of the skin. Once it moves up to the top of the skin layer, it lightens and scabs over and the scab eventually falls off on its own, taking the pigment along with it.

This is a gentler, easier method for tattoo removal which is what makes it more effective for cosmetic tattoos that are usually applied on delicate parts of the skin, including around the eyes and lips. As with laser removal, it may require several sessions to achieve the complete effect but over time it should work with minimal side effects, provided you follow the aftercare recommendations.

It usually takes around 5-10 days after each session for the scab to fully form and fall off naturally. During this time you need to keep the area clean and dry and avoid picking at the scab. You may feel a little tenderness but there shouldn’t be any serious feelings of discomfort as most people tolerate saline removal very well.

For saline removal, as with any type of tattoo removal, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. No removal procedure will provide immediate results. It takes time and often several treatment sessions for the final effect to be achieved. Often, we could lighten up a botched tattoo job in order to begin a fresh start. You need to let your body go through the process at its own rate and trust that you will be pleased with the end result.

Other Forms of Tattoo Removal

There are other methods available for tattoo removal, but none has proven as safe and effective as the laser and saline methods. These methods are either more invasive or have more serious side effects, making them less appealing or appropriate for every individual.

The other available tattoo removal options include:

  • Tattoo Removal Cream or Ointment – There are over the counter creams and ointments designed to help reduce the appearance of tattoos or remove them completely but their effectiveness is highly questionable. Most of these products contain some form of acid which effectively burns off the top layer of skin and at the same time that can cause damage including a rash, burn or permanent scar while failing to completely remove the tattoo. This is particularly unadvisable for cosmetic tattoos, which generally involve very delicate areas of the skin.

  • Surgical Removal - Some tattoos may require surgical correction, which involves removing the entire layer of skin with the tattoo and then closing up the remaining wound. This requires general anesthesia and a much longer recovery time and is only effective for smaller tattoos in less sensitive areas of the body.

Look Your Best At Any Age

Your body naturally changes as you age, and your cosmetic enhancements should change with it. What looked right in your 30’s or 40’s may not look as good when you reach 60 and years of exposure to Australia’s sunny weather begins to take its toll. That’s where the idea of tattoo removal comes in.

You can make the necessary adjustments to your brows, eyeliner or lips or even remove the cosmetic tattooing you had done completely. It’s a matter of figuring out which removal technique will work best for you and proceeding in carefully monitored surroundings with the expert assistance of an experience therapist.

Done correctly, tattoo removal can be safe, effective and affordable. When you work with our therapists at Alexia Makeup • Hair • Beauty, we’ll advise you as to exactly the best method of treatment for your skin type and tattoo and take any health issues you may have into consideration before providing a clear pre and post treatment regimen. That way you can rest assured knowing you’ll achieve the results you want.

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