Next week, I’m off to Manchester to talk about the UK tattoo scene to health professionals at a tattoo laser removal workshop. It’s got me thinking about the demand for this particular procedure.
The tattoo laser removal industry is growing as the need for people to get rid of their unwanted ink doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. As a customer with an unwanted tattoo, it can be difficult to know whether a cover-up tattoo or a course of laser treatment is best for you.
I wanted to speak to laser removal technician Matt Thomason so he can spread some light on this complex process for anyone wanting to learn more.
Beccy: Hey! Introduce yourself to our readers.
Matt: My name is Matthew Thomason and I work at The Rising Tide Tattoo Collective in the Poole/Bournemouth area. I’ve been qualified and doing laser tattoo removals since November 2016. I’m not a tattoo artist.
Beccy: How does laser removal work?
Matt: The laser shoots through the surface of the skin into where the ink is. It heats and and shatters the ink into smaller particles under the skin. The body is then able to remove the shattered particles through a natural process. This is why tattoo removal takes a number of sessions. Each time a new session is done, more ink is being shattered into particles. After each session, the body will need time to heal and remove the ink from under the skin.
Beccy: When will an artist recommend laser treatment instead of a cover-up tattoo?
Matt: A large percentage of my customers look to have cover-up tattoos following the laser treatment. Their current tattoos are either too dark or prominent to have certain cover-ups done. What laser removal does is fade the tattoo down significantly first – that way it allows for much more variety with the cover-up.
Beccy: Do you think people have mis-conceptions about laser removal?
Matt: The largest mis-understanding is the pain element of it. It does hurt but it’s not unbearable. It’s very much like the feeling of having an elastic band pinged on the skin. Similar to being tattooed, certain areas do hurt more than others. There are options of using numbing creams or gels which is a great way to minimise the pain.
Beccy: Do you think more and more people are wanting tattoos removed?
Matt: I do. Laser tattoo removal has become more accessible in the last few years. People who have had regretful tattoos for their whole lives are being made aware of the options.
Popularity has also increased due to the increasing levels of skill when it comes to tattoo artists at this point in time. Artists are able to create some really amazing work and I think people are being shown the potential of a great cover-up following a laser treatment to fade the old tattoo.
Beccy: Do you think people are sometimes more likely to opt for a cover-up because of the popularity of shows like Tattoo Fixers?
Matt: I think that people do see shows like that and look to get a cover-up as a result. TV programmes do show a wide audience the options available to them in terms of cover-ups, but personally I think if people just want the tattoo gone rather than settling for something else, they should consider laser removal. That way they can have a completely clean slate.
Beccy: Anything I have missed that you want to talk about?
Matt: Laser tattoo removal is now much more accessible and a lot cheaper than most people think. Some places will try and charge a ridiculous amount so try not to get caught out. That being said, just like with tattoos, there are many out there now doing tattoo laser removal. Check out the person’s work online first and always have a consultation before any treatment being done.
Words: Matthew Thomason and Beccy Rimmer
Photos: Matthew Thomason
Categories: Advice and Aftercare