GOLD Coast plastic surgeons are warning patients to watch out for cowboy clinics offering cheap laser tattoo removal that could leave them with burns and scarring.

Doctors say they have seen an increase in patients left with permanent damage because of cheap equipment and poor technique as cosmetic practices cash in on the amount of locals wanting to have their ink removed. The lack of regulation in the tattoo removal industry was allowing unqualified operators to use high-powered lasers and patients were none the wiser.


This woman’s tattoo was never properly removed.

Some beauty clinics are buying machines made in Korea or China for as little as $15,000, while advanced ­machines cost more than $250,000.

“I’ve seen quite a few ­patients with burn marks or scars and I have heard of cases where they just turn the machine up as high as it will go to try and remove the ­tattoo quickly,” Dr Gahan-­kari said. “This is just ­extraordinarily dangerous and it is why we are seeing a rise in problems.

“The result is that the skin is simply burnt off and there will be a lifelong scar.”

Southport plastic surgeon Dr Ian McDougall said there needed to be more regulation in the industry.

“It is an invasive procedure and I don’t believe some of these cowboys should be doing it,” Dr McDougall said.

“I can’t see any difference between doing that and using sun beds. This causes immediate problems if it’s not done properly.

“Patients end up with loss of pigmentation in areas.

“They’ve got to be informed and I don’t believe this is happening.”

Advanced Aesthetics is one of few practices on the Coast that has the advanced PicoSure laser machine, 10 times as effective as the previous nano-laser method.

Patient Angela Pleshkova decided to use the new machine to remove a tattoo of a chain around her arm she got 14 years ago.

“As I’m getting older I was worried it would change shape,” Ms Pleshkova said.

“At work it can be seen and some people don’t like it.

“And they ask why you did it which gets a little bit ­annoying.”

Dr Gahankari said he feared the clinic would see more cases of skin damage if people were not doing their homework.

He said patients should ask for an extensive pre-treatment assessment and qualifications before proceeding with removal.

“Unfortunately, no matter how good the equipment, it is only as good as its operator,” he said.

“Laser tattoo removal is a medical procedure and carries the risks of scarring, wound infection and allergic reactions.

“And further regulations are necessary.

“Don’t take a chance with your skin and your health.”