Tattoo removal

What is tattoo removal?

Tattoo removal or fading involves using a laser to target tattoo ink in the skin. The laser heats the ink particles, so they break up and allow the body to absorb them.

The amount of treatment needed varies, depending on the individual tattoo. However, it can take up to 12 sessions to treat a professional tattoo, which usually takes place once every eight weeks. The results can vary, depending on the individual tattoo and the type or colour of ink used. Indian ink tattoos are usually easier to treat, and black and red inks tend to fade better. Some inks do not respond to treatment at all.

Not normally funded treatment or procedure:

Tattoo removals are not usually funded by the patient’s local NHS commissioning organisation. This is because surgical treatment for removal of tattoos/surgical correction of body piercings is considered to be a cosmetic procedure.

The clinician in charge of the care of the patient’s specific condition, usually a hospital doctor, can assist the application, if there is exceptional clinical need for the treatment to be funded. The patient’s clinician must evidence clinical exceptionality and must be supported by the patient’s local NHS commissioning organisation.

See separate leaflet for more information on Individual Funding Requests (IFRs).

Advice and further guidance:

  • For more information search for ‘tattoo removal’ at
  • Choosing Wisely UK is part of a global initiative aimed at improving conversations between patients and their doctors and nurses.

Treatment policy for patients covered by NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG

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