What Are Some Safe And Effective Tattoo Removal Methods?

If you have a tattoo that you’ve ended up regretting, whether that’s because it no longer boasts the same symbolism, it’s a reminder of different times, or you’re simply not happy with the artistry, then rest assured; there are safe and effective ways to remove it. 

We say effective, but in reality, some are more efficacious than others, with several reported tattoo removal methods as ineffectual as a chocolate teapot. 

Today, we’re scratching the surface a little deeper and fielding the question; what are some safe and effective tattoo removal methods?


The most commonly sought method of tattoo removal is laser surgery. Laser surgery works by targeting the ink pigment with high-intensity light beams, which breaks down the pigment and allows it to be absorbed by the body. 

Though the method is uncomfortable, it’s generally considered safe, effective, and relatively painless; it’s not usually done under anaesthesia. That said, laser removal can be quite expensive, and it may require multiple treatments to completely remove the tattoo. Even then, it may not render your tattoo completely imperceptible; darker colours (blacks and blues, primarily) respond better to laser treatment whereas lighter ones sometimes remain faintly visible.

However, it is the best method of removing an unwanted tattoo because it is less likely to cause scarring and is more precise in terms of the tattoo pigment it can target. Additionally, it is the only method that can be used on all skin types. 

How Laser Removal Works

The laser sends out short pulses of intense light that break up the ink into tiny pieces. The body then flushes away these fragments. 

The number of treatments you need will depends on the size, location, and colour of your tattoo. Black ink absorbs all types of lasers well, so it is usually the easiest to remove. Other colours can be more difficult to treat. For example, green and yellow inks can only be removed with certain types of lasers because they absorb other wavelengths of light. 

Things To Consider

Before you undergo laser removal, a test patch of skin will be treated to ensure that you don’t have an allergic reaction to the laser. You will also be given protective eyewear to wear during the procedure. 

The area to be treated will be cleansed and a numbing agent may be applied, as the laser pulses will feel like tiny rubber bands snapping against your skin, which can be uncomfortable. 

After the treatment, the area will be cooled and protected with ointment and a bandage. Prior to and in the aftermath of treatment, you should avoid sun exposure to minimise the risk of burns or changes in skin colour. It’s also important to keep the treated area clean and dry to prevent infection. 


Dermabrasion is another popular method of tattoo removal. It involves using a rotating wire brush or diamond wheel to sand the tattoo away. As you can imagine from that description, this method is fairly painful and can cause scarring. It is not as effective as laser surgery, but it is also less expensive. If your tattoo is small and has few, darker colours, dermabrasion may be all you need to remove it. 

How Dermabrasion Works

Dermabrasion works by removing the top layer of skin, which contains the tattoo pigment. 

After the area is numbed to prepare for treatment, the dermabrasion device will be passed over the skin several times to remove the tattoo. Then, the area will be bandaged and you’ll be given instructions on how to care for the treated area. 

Things To Consider

Dermabrasion is not recommended for people with dark skin because it can cause hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin). It is also not recommended for people with active cold sores, as this can spread the virus. That’s not all; if you have a history of keloids (scarring that occurs when the body heals itself), you should not undergo dermabrasion because there is a risk that you will develop them. 


Excision is another method of tattoo removal. It involves cutting out the tattooed area of skin and stitching the wound closed. This method is quite painful and can leave a scar, and is usually only used when other methods have failed. Because it involves cutting the skin, there is also a risk of infection. 

How Excision Works

The area to be treated is first numbed with local anaesthetic, before the tattoo is cut out with a scalpel. The wound is then closed with stitches. Afterward, the area is be bandaged and you’ll be given instructions on how to care for the treated area. 

Things To Consider

Excision should only be performed by a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. It is an invasive procedure, to put things mildly, and can cause serious complications if not done properly. There is also a risk of infection and scarring. 


There are many tattoo removal creams on the market that claim to be safe and effective. However, most of these creams are not backed by scientific evidence. Additionally, some of these creams can cause skin irritation, rashes, and burns. 

How Tattoo Removal Creams Work

Tattoo removal creams work by bleaching or peeling away the top layer of skin, breaking down the ink pigments in the tattoo. This allows the body to absorb the ink and eventually flush it out. Most tattoo removal creams contain ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or hydroquinone. These ingredients can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to test them on a small area of skin first. 

Things To Consider

Tattoo removal creams are not very effective and can cause skin irritation. If you do decide to use one of these creams, be sure to test it on a small area of skin first and follow the instructions carefully. 


Even less of a good idea are the many home remedies that claim to remove tattoos. Some of these home remedies can cause skin irritation, rashes, and burns, and are not a smart move under any circumstance. Home remedies for tattoo removal include:

  • using a variety of household items such as lemon juice, baking soda, or vinegar
  • applying sunscreens or tanning lotions
  • using over-the-counter topical medications such as corticosteroids or retinoids 

Things To Consider

Home remedies are not very effective and can cause skin irritation. If you do decide to use one of these home remedies, be sure to… Actually, just don’t.

Regardless of the method, if you’re considering having a tattoo removed, be sure to consult with a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon first. It should be noted that non-surgical laser treatments are not currently regulated in the UK. Because of this, The British Medical Laser Association has recently published their Essential Standards, which every practitioner should follow. Do make sure that any clinic you’re considering is aware and observant of these standards.

All cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK must take place in a hospital or clinic that has been registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which publishes ratings regarding the quality of care offered. You can check here to see if the clinic is registered; simply enter your postcode or the name of the clinic.

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