In New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and South Australia anyone that has a Laser Safety Officer certificate can perform laser tattoo removal. In Queensland, Radiation Health is responsible to issue laser tattoo removal licenses and a certification of competency after a minimum number of hours in a log book. In Western Australian and Tasmania only doctors are allowed to operate a laser.
Due to the self-regulating nature of the industry, this raises the question for the consumer “how do you know your operator knows what they are doing?” Unfortunately, the risk normally falls back on the consumer. This poses real dangers for the consumer. A rise in serious injury and scarring is occurring on unsuspecting people. The class 4 laser system used in tattoo removal is a medical grade device that can do irreversible damage when operated incorrectly.
The belief that the laser tattoo removal industry is the next lucrative segment after laser hair removal has encouraged an explosion of operators. Some clinics are from large brands and some are small operators that even operate from home. The ease of purchasing a device from the internet that claims tattoo removal has even seen mobile operators pop up.
FDA Approved Laser Systems
There are only 2 types of FDA approved laser systems for tattoo removal. There is the older technology Q-Switched Nd:YAG and the latest technology picosecond laser system like PicoWay.
Every other laser system will not treat tattoos. There are many different types of laser that have been designed to perform very specific task. You can’t use the wrong laser for the wrong task, it is just like trying to use a hammer to do the task of a screwdriver.
If your clinic is trying to use the same laser that treats hair removal or skin rejuvenation for tattoo removal then the laser system will not work, or worse, damage your skin.
If your clinic is using IPL (intense pulse light) for tattoo removal, then it will not work and will only burn and scar your skin.
If your operator is using a mobile device that plugs into a domestic powerpoint then this is the first warning that your operator is unprofessional as it is impossible that this device will work for tattoo removal. Devices that are plugged into a domestic powerpoint will not have enough power to shatter tattoo ink pigment. But it does have enough power to burn your skin. A Q-Switched or picosecond laser is plugged into a commercial 32amp powerpoint.
Any person can set up a laser tattoo business
It is very easy today for anyone to start a laser tattoo business, if they have the financial means. Purchasing a laser system and leasing a premise will have you opened as laser tattoo removal clinic within weeks in NSW. Even if the clinic invests $300,000 on the top of the line PicoWay laser system, the device’s success in clearing a tattoo safely is up to the operator. The qualification and understanding the skin response comes with years of training as a skin therapist. Training to get certification from the manufacturer of the equipment takes many hours of hands-on training. Ongoing training takes time and financial commitment. Not many operators undertake best practise and instead set up shop and immediately start taking appointments.
Types of operators
Doctors and nurses both gain the knowledge and skills to operate a laser device. They understand the anatomy of the human body and more.
Skin clinicians have undertaken the same basic training as doctors and nurses to understand the anatomy of the human body. The strengths of skin clinicians is that they only concentrate on skin maintenance and treat skin conditions in their careers. Experienced skin clinicians understand how to take care of skin integrity before, during and post laser treatments. If the skin clinician is thoroughly trained by the manufacturers of the laser system, they will understand the correct protocols and parameters of the laser and operate it without damaging the skin.
Unqualified operators are people that have bought the laser system and undertaken a Laser Safely Officer (LSO) certificate only. The LSO teaches a person the physics of lasers and IPL. This certificate is issued after a half day course. Any operator that is not a doctor, nurse or skin clinician will not have the skills and knowledge to advise or treat skin to maintain skin integrity during and post laser tattoo removal. They also will not know how to advise or provide solutions for an adverse skin reaction.
A laser is dangerous equipment that requires a responsible operator. Without correct training and knowledge the laser can cause irreparable damage.
Questions to ask
There are some simple ways to give yourself some piece of mind with your laser tattoo removal operator. Here are some questions to ask the clinic operator even if you already know the answer:
Qualifications: Ask your operator what qualifications they have. If they only have a LSO certificate then they will not have had the years of training and experience required to care for your skin. Just following an instruction manual to set the parameters isn’t adequate. Correct use of the laser system requires the operator to assess skin response during treatment to adjust the fluence to maximise clearance and reduce risk.
Ongoing Training: Ask what type of additional ongoing training the operator undertakes. Laser technology is constantly advancing. The picosecond laser system has just been released and there are always new protocols and parameters that are getting refined. At Detail Tattoo Removal our clinician’s report back to the manufacturers on in-clinic results. This feedback system ensures protocols and parameters are current, safe and working.
How laser tattoo removal works and how your immune system affects the results? Ask this simple question. If the operator struggles to explain how laser technology works then you should ask, should this operator be performing your treatment.
Article you might find helpful: How The Immune System Affects Laser Tattoo Removal Results
Wavelengths and skin types: Your operator should understand when and why they use the different wavelengths to treat the skin type, colour of the pigment and depth of the ink. 532nm is for brown, red, orange and yellow, 694nm to 785nm is for greens and blues, 1064nm is for black. The wavelength of each laser is also selected to target the ink at different depth of the dermis. Another consideration is the skin type. 532nm is designed mainly for lighter skin types and 1064nm is safer for darker skin types. The combinations of parameters is extensive and requires knowledge and training to perform a safe tattoo removal.
Hypo-pigmentation, hyper-pigmentation and post-inflammatory pigmentation (PIH): All 3 of these skin conditions can occur after laser tattoo removal. Ask the operator how they are going to avoid these conditions and how to treat it if it occurs. These conditions can occur and can be resolved but it is important to try to avoid it.
After treatment care: Ask the operator what they do post treatment. If the operator expects you to leave without dressing the area that has been treated, then you need ask yourself, is this operator professional. At Detail Tattoo Removal we apply Stratamed and a dressing post treatment to reduce the chanced of infection.Article you might find useful: What To Expect After Laser Tattoo Removal
Protocols & Parameters
Detail Tattoo Removal has strict protocols and understand the optimum parameters to achieve Maximum Effective Threshold. Here are the outcomes when parameters are too low or too high.
Parameters too low: If the operator uses a spot size that is too large or sets the fluence too low for the tattoo, the laser will not affect the ink pigment. You could have 50 treatments and the tattoo will not clear. Unfortunately, we see most chain laser clinics use a 1 size fits all set of parameters due to lack of knowledge and to minimise risk.
Parameters too high: If the operator uses a spot size that is too small or sets the fluence too high, the laser will fire past the skin and damage the tissue. This results in bleeding, blisters and possible permanent scarring. Unfortunately, we see this with the small independent clinics because they have very little training and they believe being aggressive with the parameters is the best way.
Maximum Effective Threshold: Our clinicians understand how to choose the correct spot size and fluence based on the skin type. We will choose a medium to smaller spot size on lighter skin type. We will choose a medium to larger spot size for a darker skin type. We set the fluence based on skin reaction from the first few pulses. After 4 weeks we observe how the skin has healed then increase the parameters accordingly. This is best way to achieve Maximum Effect Threshold. 80% of our clients achieve tattoo clearance within 6-8 treatments.
It is your skin. Don’t take chances.
We highly recommend you to visit many clinics so you can ask these questions of each operator before you choose one. It is very important to spend this time because when laser tattoo removal goes wrong it can be irreversible. It is your skin and you should treat this treatment like any other medical procedure.
While cost may be a factor it shouldn’t be the main factor. A clinic operator’s reputation and professionalism is the main consideration. Like many things you purchase, you get what you pay for. A cheap price normally means it can you cost you more in the long run. If you choose a cheap clinic, sometimes you are lucky to only lose the money, we have seen clients that have visible scarring that makes clearing the remaining ink really difficult. We have many clients that have spent $1000’s with other clinics only to come to us and having to spend the same amount again just to finish the work.
To help in your research, see our article: 5 Best Tattoo Removal Clinics To Consider In Sydney
Book Your Free Consultation
At Detail Tattoo Removal we are proud of the fact that we will take the time to answer all your questions and provide you with honest answers. As well, we provide a 10 treatment guarantee. In many cases, the tattoo is cleared in 6-8 treatments however, if you have a difficult case you do not pay any more than 10.
Click the booking button or call 02 9231 5999 for a free consultation.