‘I tried the world’s most painless laser’


Every month, 12.1k of you search for ‘tattoo removal’ advice, while one study found that three in 10 adults have at least one piece of ink (up from 21% a decade ago), and 8% of those with tattoos regret them. Celebs are no exception. Last year, fans noticed that Victoria Beckham no longer had the ‘DB’ script tattoo of her husband David’s initials on her wrist. Speaking on Today, VB explained: ‘They just didn’t look so nice. The media started to speculate, ‘Was I leaving my husband?’ No. I was just a bit sick of the tattoo. It’s as simple as that.’

I know the feeling. Back in 2012, when I was 18 and on my second ever girl’s holiday (to Ayia Napa), I decided it would be a good idea to get a permanent inking ‘for the lols’. The regret was instant, and while it’s not something you can see on a daily basis – it’s positioned on my left ribcage – it’s something that I viscerally hate (no hyperboles here), particularly when it’s on show on holiday or when wearing a sports bra.

I’ve considered tattoo removal for years, but the main thing that has put me off is that results aren’t guaranteed, and I’ve heard that it can be more painful than having the tattoo itself. That’s when I came across NAAMA Studios, based in London.

The company’s before and after shots were a cut above the rest, and after a quick bit of research, I discovered they use a new laser technology that promises faster tattoo removal with minimal pain and downtime. It was a no-brainer; I am now undergoing my tattoo removal process, and it’s world’s away from everything I ever expected. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably in the same ‘wish I’d never got that’ boat as me, so here’s everything you need to know about laser tattoo removal.

How does tattoo removal work?

A laser and cold air are used simultaneously.

‘Laser tattoo removal works by applying pulses of light to your tattoo to break the ink into small enough particles that your body’s lymphatic system can flush them out,’ Aoife Knox, Head of Brand and Creative at NAAMA, explains.

NAAMA uses a patented technology that offers a few benefits well worth considering, in comparison to traditional laser tattoo removal:

  • Some tattoo removal can cause, scarring, but NAAMA clients ‘haven’t had a single scar from treatment’
  • NAAMA can treat clients ‘as often as 2-3 weeks and experience faster results in less time’
  • The technology used at NAAMA is the ‘safest laser tattoo removal for darker skin tones, thanks to a lower energy and precise spot size’
  • NAAMA technology is ‘the most painless tattoo removal technology thanks to lower energy levels and even distribution’
  • NAAMA technology is superior and ‘faster at clearing coloured inks’

    How many sessions are needed to completely remove a tattoo?

    ‘On average it takes 8-12 sessions to remove a tattoo – sometimes less, sometimes more. Permanent makeup sees anywhere between 3-5+ sessions,’ Knox tells me.

    Tattoo removal is impacted by a variety of factors including:

    • Depth
    • Density
    • Location of the tattoo
    • Lifestyle factors e.g. exercise and diet habits

      ‘These affect results more so than the size of the tattoo. The stronger your immune system is, the more efficiently it will flush away ink particles after the laser has broken them down.’

      How often can you have a laser tattoo removal session?

      A standard tattoo removal session will require you to wait between 2-3 months between treatments as ‘subsequent tattoo removal treatments can only happen once skin is fully healed’, but ‘the technology at NAAMA uses ultra-low energy to break down the ink, which means it significantly reduces any chance of blistering, scarring or skin damage compared to other lasers on the market,’ says Knox. ‘As a result, there is less downtime between treatments; we can treat every 2-3 weeks, and clients see removal in months, instead of years.’

      I can confirm that, to date, I have had zero blistering, scarring or skin damage whatsoever. In fact, aside from a tiny bit of itching (which I’m told is a normal part of the healing process), my tattoo hasn’t felt any different. I have, however, been religious with my aftercare – more on that to come.

      How long does a tattoo removal session take?

      This depends on the size of your tattoo. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea:

      • Micro (tattoos under 4cm x 4cm): 15 minutes
      • Standard (medium or multiple tattoos): 30 minutes
      • Ultra (large or multiple tattoos): 60 minutes
      • Permanent makeup removal: 30 minutes

          What happens during a tattoo removal session?

          Cold air is applied to the area of the tattoo before using a laser.

          So far, I’ve had two tattoo removal sessions with NAAMA, and I have been pleasantly surprised by both how quick and pain-free they have been. The therapists start each session by using a cold air tool to cool the area of your tattoo, for around 1 minute, before going in with the laser (they then use both the laser and cold air in conjunction with one another, so each time the heat from the laser is applied, the cold air instantly cools it).

          It feels like a sharp, pinching sensation, but the cold air means there is no heat, and it’s over super fast. The laser process for me (and my specific tattoo size) takes around 3-4 minutes, and I’m done.

          Afterwards, the therapist applies a medical-grade dressing that looks a bit like clingfilm to protect the area.

          What are the dos and don’ts before and after laser tattoo removal?

          Before a laser tattoo removal session, you’re advised to do the following:

          • Follow healthy habits. Avoid alcohol, eat well and keep hydrated.
          • Be sun safe. Use a moisturising sunscreen with high SPF + UVA 4* or above.
          • Check your products. Avoid topical retinol on or near the tattoo area for 1-2 weeks.
          • Shave if needed. If the area being treated has a large amount of hair, please shave before your appointment. This excludes eyebrows.
          • Go natural. Keep the area totally clean and dry on the day of your treatment.

            Afterwards, try and stick to the following to enhance your results and help speed up the process:

            • Where possible, keep your dressing on for 72 hours.
            • Once the dressing is removed, keep the area clean and regularly apply your aftercare cream at least twice a day to hydrate the skin and provide a protective barrier.
            • Don’t pick or scratch the treated area.
            • Keep the area cool. Avoid very hot showers, saunas, hot pools and steam rooms for 72 hours after treatment.
            • Avoid intensive, sweaty exercise and rough sports for 3 days post treatment.
            • In the days immediately following treatment, do not expose the treated area to direct, intense sunlight.

              The biggest struggle for me so far is not being able to do any ‘sweaty’ exercise for three days post sessions. That said, two days after my second session, I attempted a light (non-sweaty) yoga session, and all was good. My dressing stayed on for four days, while showering every day as normal, and once my dressing came off, I kept up twice daily application of my aftercare cream for three days to soothe the area.

              Five days after my first treatment, I also headed off on holiday. Exposure to the sun and any extreme heat isn’t advised if you can help it, but since my tattoo is small enough, I was able to cover it with a plaster at all times. I also routinely dunked myself in the freezing cold pool to avoid overheating (not necessary, but I’m pedantic when it comes to any kind of health or beauty treatment).

              The team at NAAMA add,it’s your body that does a lot of the heavy lifting to flush the ink particles out of the body through the lymphatic system. Taking care of your body after treatment is super important to supercharge your removal.’ Here are some more tips:

              • Keep your immune system strong. The stronger your immune system is, the more efficient it is at flushing away ink particles. A healthy diet and lifestyle will help ensure optimise results.
              • Hydrate. Help your lymph system flow faster by drinking lots of water.
              • Eat well. Being well rested and eating a balanced diet will optimise results. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may slow the process.

                How painful is tattoo removal?

                I was particularly apprehensive about the pain of tattoo removal, but I can genuinely say that it is nowhere near the level I had anticipated. What I will say is that my tattoo is classed as a small tattoo, and depending on how large your tattoo is, the pain may feel worse since you’ll be undergoing treatment for a longer time (mine is over within 3-5 minutes).

                According to Knox, ‘While pain is subjective, many of our clients have found it much less painful than other tattoo removal lasers, or no more painful than getting the tattoo in the first place. We’re the only studio in the world with the LightSense™ laser. It is the most painless tattoo removal technology on the market right now thanks to ultra-low energy levels. It is incredibly effective, delivering fast results in months not years.’

                My tattoo removal results

                To date, I’ve only had two tattoo removal sessions, but I can already see a difference. The ink seems scalier, and there are definitely areas where it has lightened. My specialist advised me that you don’t usually see much of a difference until the third session, so I am excited to see how soon I will have my full result. Here’s how it’s looking now:

                tattoo removal

                My results from the first and second session.  

                My specialist has advised that I may need between 10-12 sessions, but the ink appears to be fading faster than expected and I’m optimistic it will clear sooner.

                I’ll be sharing updates on my process, so stay tuned for my full results.

                How much does tattoo removal cost at NAAMA?

                This one’s hard to answer as prices vary wildly from studio to studio, but tattoo removal at NAAMA starts from £179 for 1 session on a micro tattoo, to £449 for 1 session on an ultra large or multiple tattoos. ‘Sessions are based around time and fall into 3 size categories – micro, standard or ultra. If your tattoo falls into the standard (most tattoos) or ultra (large tattoos) sizes, you can often treat multiple tattoos in one session for the same price.’

                You can also purchase packages of 5 or 10, for each tattoo.

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