Surgical tattoo removal & tattoo excision in London
Surgical tattoo removal & tattoo excision is a effective technique performed to remove tattoos using excision and/or skin graft. Often people choose surgical tattoo removal when laser tattoo removal has failed. Laser tattoo removal is relatively ineffective for professional tattoos which may contain blue and green pigments.
Considering tattoo removal is quite common and a choice people make for many reasons whether it be because of regret, outgrowing it or something else entirely. Surgical tattoo removal is preferred over laser tattoo removal by people who wish to avoid several painful laser sessions or just want an aesthetically pleasing result.
RealSelf Top Doctors
RealSelf top doctor status is awarded to less than 10% of the RealSelf doctor community. This status is earned by achieving consistently high patient satisfaction (from RealSelf reviews), getting excellent feedback on expert answers to patient questions, and after investing significant time in Q&A and other doctor activity. RealSelf top doctors are rated among the very best surgeons in the United Kingdom and USA.
Our tattoo removal clinic at 106 Crawford Street was recently inspected and rated by the Care Quality Commission as good across all five domains of care.
Why have surgical tattoo removal?
Benefits of Surgical Tattoo Removal
- A simple and quick method which can achieve long-lasting results.
- Cheapest technique for complete tattoo removal.
- Alternative to many painful laser sessions.
- More aesthetically pleasing result compared to laser tattoo removal.
Potential Side Effects
- A linear scar will be left but will fade away quickly.
- Could leave a visible scar (this can be reduced with appropriate care)
- Surgical complications like infection and swelling will be involved.
Surgical VS laser tattoo removal
Surgical Tattoo Removal
- The tattoo can be removed in one sitting or two depending on the size.
- Risk of infection of the incisions.
- Will leave a linear scar that fades away over time.
Laser Tattoo Removal
- May need more than 5-6 visits and sometimes even 10 for a big tattoo.
- Risk of skin burning during the removal treatment
- May leave an outline of the tattoo with scar formation
Ideal patients for tattoo excision
All patients should be in good health and have realistic expectations about what can be achieved with surgical tattoo removal.
We do not treat patients below the age of 18 years of age. Healing is better if patients refrain from or quit smoking.
Tattoo excision is ideal for those who do not wish to continue keeping their tattoo, and do not wish to opt for laser tattoo removal. The procedure is ideal for people who have outgrown or regret their tattoos. People may opt for tattoo excision if they are starting a new job and prefer a more professional appearance.
Tattoo excision procedure
Depending on the size of the tattoo, some can be removed in just one sitting. An oval shaped cut will be made around the skin and then the edges are stitched together. The stitches will be slightly curved to allow a neat incision scar.
In cases when the tattoo covers a big area of the skin and cannot be easily removed and stitched together, a comfortable amount is cut in the first session and more is cut again after allowing the treated area to heal.
Skin grafting is also a technique involved in surgical tattoo removal where skin from another part of the body is stitched onto the area of the removed skin to fill the gap.
Recovery after surgical tattoo removal
It is normal to have some discomfort for 2 to 3 days after the tattoo excision procedure. Your doctor will prescribe a course of oral painkillers to control symptoms. It is very important to protect the healing incisions. You must keep the incisions out of direct sunlight to avoid the risk of hyper pigmentation.
In some cases patients may develop prominent scarring after tattoo excision. Centre for Surgery are recognised experts in scar revision using both non-surgical and surgical techniques.
Tattoo removal before and after
Am I an ideal candidate for surgical tattoo removal?Patients who are bothered by the presence of their tattoo and may have found laser tattoo removal to be ineffective may be a suitable candidate for tattoo excision under local anaesthetic at Centre for Surgery. It is important to bear in mind that surgical tattoo removal is only applicable for smaller tattoos. Large and extensive tattoos that cover multiple body areas will not be suitable for surgical tattoo excision
Anyone wishing to get a tattoo removed quickly is considered an ideal candidate.
Who will perform my tattoo excision treatment?Surgical tattoo removal is carried out by one of our highly expert and skilled plastic surgeons.
All of our plastic surgeons have years of experience in reconstructive surgery and are skilled in both skin graft and local tissue flap reconstruction. Skin grafts and local tissue flaps are occasionally used in more complex tattoos for adequate skin coverage
Is surgical tattoo removal safe?Surgical tattoo removal is a very straightforward and safe procedure although you should be aware of all the potential risks and complications before proceeding with a tattoo excision procedure at Centre for Surgery.
Your surgeon will explain all the potential risks and complications at your consultation.
What does tattoo excision involve?Surgical tattoo removal first involves accurate marking of the tattoo on the skin followed by the injection of local anaesthetic into and around the tattoo. The tattoo is removed via surgical excision and for small tattoos it may be possible to remove it in one sitting. For larger tattoos your doctor may recommend a second stage removal for the reminder of the tattoo. After the tattoo is removed the wound edges are reapproximated and closed with sutures. In some cases your doctor may use non-dissolvable sutures As these give better scar cosmesis. In cases of very large tattoos or tattoos in sensitive areas, your doctor may choose to use a skin graft for coverage of the skin defect left by the tattoo removal.
How do I prepare for surgical tattoo removal?There is no special preparation required for tattoo excision although it is recommended to follow the instructions below to reduce the risk of complications following surgery.
- It is important to stop smoking as continued smoking reduces blood flow in the skin and can lead to delayed wound healing and possible injection. For active smokers your doctor may advise use of nicotine replacement products.
- You should avoid taking certain medicines including aspirin and anti-inflammatory tablets and also herbal supplements as these can increase the risk of bleeding.
- You should ensure you have an adult escort to collect you after your procedure is complete and to look after you during the first 24 hours as you will still be drowsy from the effects of the anaesthetic.
How long does tattoo excision take to perform?The length of the procedure for tattoo excision depends on the size of the tattoo and where it is located. Larger tattoos will require more surgical time compared with smaller tattoos. On average, tattoo removal takes between 30 minutes to 120 minutes.
Is surgical tattoo removal painful?Surgical tattoo removal is a very well tolerated procedure. Your surgeon will inject long-acting local anaesthetic into and around the tattoo to eliminate any sensation both during the procedure and for up to 6 hours after the procedure. In addition to this you will be given a prescription for oral painkillers for you to take regularly for the first few days after the tattoo excision.
Does tattoo excision result in scars?All surgical incisions result in the formation of a scar, surgical tattoo removal is no different. Your surgeon where possible will try to place incisions in natural skin folds to reduce the visibility of the resulting scar. In darker skinned patients, the scar may sometimes be more prominent also known as a hypertrophic scar or keloid scar.
Centre for Surgery are experts in scar management and have full access to gold standard scar revision treatments including laser resurfacing and Morpheus8 RF microneedling.
What downtime is associated with surgical tattoo removal?For smaller tattoos, patients may return to virtually all activities straight away. Patients with larger tattoos that may restrict arm or leg movement should look to take it easy over the first 5 to 7 days to allow the wound to heal without any complications.
It is normal to have a degree of mild discomfort for the first few days and oral painkillers are sufficient in virtually all cases to control symptoms. This should not limit your normal activities.
What are the risks associated with surgical tattoo removal?As with any surgical procedure, tattoo excision carries a number of potential risks and complications including wound infection, prominent scarring, wound breakdown and bleeding. Fortunately all these risks are very uncommon when performed by an expert plastic surgeon at Centre for Surgery. Your surgeon will fully explain all the potential risks of surgical tattoo removal at your consultation.
What To Expect
We would advise all prospective patients to first have a consultation with an expert plastic surgeon. At your consultation you’ll be able to discuss with your surgeon Your goals for treatment as well as to discuss what can be achieved given the size and shape of your tattoo.
Your surgeon will then discuss all the possible options including a possible requirement for graft or flap reconstruction . The surgeon will then take photographs of the tattoo and make a number of measurements to plan treatment.
The following are examples of questions you could ask your surgeon at the consultation:
Am I a good candidate for tattoo excision ?
What can I do to help get the very best possible results?
What is the best surgical technique for my tattoo?
What sort of recovery can I expect after my procedure?
What happens if I am not happy with the results?
Am I able to see before and after photos of patients who have undergone similar treatment?
Your surgeon will then explain all the potential risks and complications of surgical tattoo removal along with providing full information on pre-and post operative instructions. Your medical history will be recorded including any previous operations. What medicines you may be taking and any allergies along with other important questions.
If you are deemed to be a good candidate for surgical tattoo removal your patient coordinator will get in contact and explain the next steps. You are welcome to come and see your surgeon for a further follow-up consultation so you are as well informed as possible before surgery.
Before your procedure
If you decide to have tattoo excision then our clinical support team will be in touch to prepare you for the procedure. The following is recommended to reduce the risk of complications:
- You should stop smoking at least six weeks before the procedure as smoking tobacco is associated with a higher risk of wound complications.
- you should not take aspirin or any medicines that contain aspirin such as anti-inflammatory medicines.
- If you are having deep sedation or a general anaesthetic you should avoid the consumption of any food six hours before surgery and you may only have small sips of water up to 2 hours before your surgery time.
On the day of your procedure
You should aim to arrive for your tattoo removal procedure one hour before the scheduled start time off the surgery. When you are admitted a nurse will record your blood pressure pulse temperature and other vitals and you will then be seen by the surgeon who will mark the area of the tattoo
Surgical tattoo removal most commonly takes place under local anaesthetic and takes roughly 1 to 2 hours to complete. The location of the incisions and the technique for tattoo removal will differ based on what has been planned at your consultation.
After your procedure
It is uncommon to feel any discomfort after the procedure but you may have some mild soreness for up to 3 days after the procedure. If necessary you can take simple oral painkillers as required.
After the procedure is complete you will spend some time in our recovery suite for up to a couple of hours which depends on whether you had a local anaesthetic or local anaesthetic combined with sedation. Once you have made a full recovery from the anaesthetic you will be allowed to go home accompanied by a responsible escort.
You will need to return approximately 1 to 2 weeks after your tattoo excision procedure to be reviewed by one of our post-operative nurses where your dressings will be removed and the incision sites will be inspected. Advice on optimum scar healing will be given at this point. Our post-operative support team are available 24 hours to address any questions or concerns you may have
You will come in at roughly 6 to 8 weeks after your procedure to be reviewed by your surgeon for a final assessment of your healing.