Laser Tattoo Removal

Many people get their tattoo when they are young and regret the tattoo at a later stage in their lives: The passage of time might have negatively affected the appearance of the tattoo, or the once proudly displayed “body design” becomes a bother or problem to their lifestyle.


The tattoo might even stand in the way of a great new job or the perfect outcome of a very important event. Feelings of being marked for life and embarrassment are not uncommon then.

The good news is that whilst tattoos were once considered permanent, it is now possible to effectively remove them using specific lasers – with minimal side effects. Laser tattoo removal is simple, safe, and produces fantastic results. *

What is Laser Tattoo Removal?

Laser Tattoo Removal refers to the non-invasive removal of tattoo ink pigment – using specific lasers. The laser breaks down the ink particles of the tattoo in the skin. The fragmented ink pigment is then flushed away through the body’s lymphatic system. Not all particles are broken down during one laser session. Hence, several treatment sessions are needed to effectively remove a tattoo. CapeMAC recommends between 6 and 10 treatment sessions, with intervals of at least 4 – 6 weeks.*
Each tattoo is unique requiring an individually tailored removal procedure to suit the patient. Bold and sizable tattoos with different coloured inks might take longer or might leave scars. Black or blue tattoos can usually be removed completely with minimal or no scarring.

CapeMAC uses the Q-switched 1,064 nm neodymium: YAG laser for tattoo removal. Being a medical practice, we can also effectively numb the area to be treated for greater patient comfort. The laser tattoo removal procedure is performed by well-trained personnel.

Frequently asked questions

The results - what to expect from Tattoo Removal?

Most tattoos can be removed completely with minimal or no scarring.* Black pigment absorbs all laser wavelengths, allowing for the quickest and easiest tattoo removal. Whilst black and darker-coloured inks can be removed more completely, other colours might leave a few pigments behind. Coloured tattoos can only be treated by selected lasers based upon the pigment colour. Multi-colour tattoos usually require the most sessions, as several lasers or laser settings have to be used for each colour. Please keep in mind that a tattoo is ink particles permanently embedded in the skin. In order to remove the tattoo, some form of trauma (such as a laser treatment) will have to be administered to the skin in order to break up the ink pigments into smaller particles which the body is able to dispose of. This superficial trauma will change the appearance of the skin structure – meaning there will be some form of scar tissue and/or difference in texture. The extent of skin changes will depend on the patient’s natural ability to heal and if the area was treated properly during the treatment and healing stages. Our Doctor and therapists at CapeMAC will be able to properly assess your tattoo and advise you on how best to have it removed safely and comfortably. * Please note individual results may vary. Results are not guaranteed.

Which areas can be treated?

Laser tattoo removal can be performed on basically any part of the body. How effective your tattoo removal treatment is, however, depends on the location of the tattoo on the body (the effectiveness of the lymphatic drainage of the treated area).

Am I a good candidate for Laser Tattoo Removal?

Basically everyone with an unwanted tattoo can be a good candidate for laser tattoo removal. Patients with previously treated and not effectively removed tattoos can also be candidates for laser therapy. For details, please see the section “YAG laser” on this website.

How long is one Laser Tattoo Removal session?

The size, the colour and the depth of the tattoo pigment will influence the duration and the outcome of the laser treatment. One laser tattoo removal treatment session can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. If numbing creams are applied, this will involve an additional 20 to 30 minutes while the medication takes effect.

How many sessions of Laser treatment will I need for Tattoo Removal?

You will receive several treatments, even though you may see results as early as your first session. How effective your tattoo removal treatment is can depend on your age, ethnicity, weight, metabolism, medication and hormones. Further factors include: colour and location of the tattoo, the amount of ink used, as well as scarring or tissue change, and layering of tattoos.
We advise patients to plan for multiple treatment sessions over 6 – 18 months with intervals of at least 2 – 6 weeks to minimise risks. Your tattoo removal specialist will update you throughout your sessions.

What precautions should I take before the treatment?

Once you are deemed an appropriate candidate, your doctor will devise a treatment plan for you. You will be instructed on what (and what not) to do before your first treatment. This might include staying out of the sun or avoiding certain medications that may increase bleeding risk, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. For further information, please contact us at CapeMAC.

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is relatively fast, simple and easy. The patient’s skin will be cleaned and any oil or deodorant removed. We will protect your eyes with special goggles and make sure you feel relaxed and comfortable. We can also apply a topical anaesthetic to the treatment area in case you are a bit sensitive. The laser hand piece is then gently applied to your skin and pulses of light will flash onto the treated area. You may feel a very slight sting, like the snapping of a small rubber band. Once the desired treatment is complete, the treated area is cleaned again and moisturiser and sun block will be applied to your skin for protection.

Will the laser burn my skin?

No. If the treatment is performed correctly and by an experienced practitioner, the laser shouldn’t burn the skin. Lasers are designed to target a particular pigment. In the case of Laser Tattoo Removal, the laser targets the dark pigment of the ink, not the skin.

What is the recovery and downtime?

There is no downtime after laser tattoo removal. Patients can return to normal activities immediately after the treatment. There are usually no burns or long recovery periods if the treatment is performed correctly. You might, however, experience a few side-effects immediately after the procedure such as redness, swelling and itching that may last a few days. Your skin might also be a little more sensitive. Blistering or slight bleeding might occur after laser tattoo removal treatment – this is very rare though and settles by itself. Other potential risks can include pigment changes and scarring in the treated skin.* For fast and easy recovery, patients are advised to apply strong sunscreen after tattoo removal treatments to protect their skin.

How do I best choose the right practitioner and practice for my tattoo removal?

Your decision as to which practice or practitioner to choose should be based on the practitioner’s reputation, the practitioner’s apparent skill and the practitioner’s experience. In addition, the practitioner’s ability to communicate with you in a manner that is professional, sincere, unhurried and that makes you feel comfortable is of utmost importance. Please also see the information on “How to choose a Medical Aesthetics Practitioner”. We hope this helps you make the right choice.

What is the cost of Laser Tattoo Removal?

Use our “Prices” section for the price of laser tattoo removal and for an up-to-date overview on available treatment options and price ranges for aesthetics treatments at CapeMAC. It is not always possible to give you accurate treatment prices for aesthetic procedures without properly assessing the extent of the problem and determining the most effective treatment/s for such problem. Contact us now at CapeMAC to book an appointment with Dr Bagwandeen as a first step towards revealing a more radiant and confident you.

We hope that this helps you understand a little more about Laser Tattoo Removal and assists you in making a better choice for your aesthetic treatments. To find out if Laser Tatto Removal is the right hair removal option for you, please contact us at Cape Medical Aesthetics Centre. Also, if you might still feel anxious about the use of Laser for the removal of unwanted tattoos, Dr Manoj Bagwandeen will be glad to discuss any queries and questions you may have. You are welcome to visit with us at CapeMAC in Plattekloof, Cape Town for more information and to get further advice on looking and feeling even better.

* Please note individual results may vary. Results are not guaranteed.