NOVEMBER, 23, 2022
I tried tattoo removal for the first time and, surprisingly, didn't find it painful. Here’s my experience.
What is tattoo removal? Does it work? Does tattoo removal hurt? Read the honest review from someone’s first session at NAAMA.
I’m Britt and I recently joined NAAMA as the team’s new studio photographer and content creator. I’m a tattoo lover at heart with 10 pieces so far, so going to a tattoo removal brand may seem like an odd fit—but I have a couple tattoos on me that I want gone.
I was talking to one of the consultants in my first week about our different tattoos. I mentioned I wanted a lotus flower on the back of my ankle removed. It was one of those silly things, I was 18 and I saw the design on Tumblr. Now that I’m older, I look at it and don’t think it’s me. It needs to go. The consultants said they could fit me in that same day if I was interested. I thought, let’s do it.
NAAMA’s tattoo removal service using the LightSense™ laser is loved by the A-list, from elite athletes like Alex Scott to actors like Gee Hirst, for its fast and effective results that don’t leave long-term skin damage behind. Located in Marylebone, NAAMA is a luxurious tattoo removal studio that prides itself on offering a holistic, calming and judgment-free place to change your mind about your ink. I loved that approach. And as someone who would work closely with clients saying goodbye to their tattoos, I wanted to see what the real fuss was all about. Could tattoo removal really be that good?
NAAMA's tattoo removal studio is located at 109 Great Portland St, London W1W 6QG in London.
What is tattoo removal?
“Tattoo removal works by breaking the large ink molecules down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are small enough to be carried away by the immune system,” says Rebecca, one of the lead consultants at NAAMA. “The ink particles are then flushed out internally through the lymphatic system” or in other words, you pee them out (literally). Treatments take place over the course of several sessions (depending on things like ink density, where the tattoo sits on your body, if it's coloured, etc) until the tattoo is completely gone.
In the UK alone, 40% of the population has a tattoo and according to a survey done by NAAMA, 33% of people said that their identity has evolved and they want their tattoos to reflect this journey. Makes sense why more and more people are seeking out tattoo removal, including myself.
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What happens in your first session?
I got off the train at Oxford Circus and headed up to NAAMA on Great Portland Street. The location is super central and a buzzing area of shops, cafes and the BBC nearby.
I walked in the door and instantly felt welcomed, like I had come into someone’s beautifully styled living room. Everyone is so lovely and treated me like a proper client. I had sparkling water while I waited (fancy right?) and got taken downstairs to where the treatment rooms are. They ushered me into the imaging room (this is where you’ll usually find me!) to snap a couple pics of my tattoos. They use these to track my removal progress.
Then the consultant takes me to my treatment room. It’s a cosy space, with tattoo artwork up on the walls and a relaxing chair for me to sit in. I get ready and take my shoes off, and the consultant walks me through some medical forms, answers any questions I have and lets me know that they’ll use a cooling system machine alongside the laser to help with any discomfort. The machine blasts -30C air (ice, ice baby) that feels really nice alongside the laser (don’t worry - it doesn’t interfere with the laser’s energy).
A few quick zaps later and I was done. They wrapped up my tattoo in medical dressing to keep on for several days and sent on my way with some of NAAMA's own vegan aftercare specially formulated with botanical extracts to soothe my skin tucked under my arm.
Here's my lotus flower tattoo pre-treatment.
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Does tattoo removal hurt?
According to Dr Fiona Worsnop , practising dermatologist for NHS and member of the Royal College of Physicians, “Laser tattoo removal can be painful. However, pain is subjective and the level of discomfort varies depending on the technology being used.” She adds, “With NAAMA's LightSense™ laser system, a lot of people find the treatments completely pain-free while others find it about as painful as getting their tattoo in the first place.” I didn't find it painful at all—more a momentary discomfort. It was a bit of a shock actually, I was in the chair and next thing I knew I looked down, the laser was going and I didn’t even notice we had started the treatment. Soon it was over, and there was no damage to my skin. Within the first 24 hours, my skin felt a bit more sensitive but the dressing helped protect it when I showered in the evening. By the next day I was feeling 100% normal and like I could carry on as usual.
How often can I have tattoo removal?
NAAMA is the only place I’ve seen offering removal in months, not years, with the average wait time of 2-3 weeks between treatments. Since the treatments are kinder to your skin, you don't have to wait as long between them for your skin to heal. You’ll likely see faster results in less time—and results that are far less damaging, too.
Can anyone get a tattoo removed?
Yes, anyone can get a tattoo removed at NAAMA. Their laser technology works on all skin tones and all black ink tattoos. Colour removal depends on skin tone, but is something the team can work with you on to set your removal goals up for success. While cost can be a huge factor for many, NAAMA takes this into account and offers a variety of tattoo removal finance options that help make the process more accessible. You can split payments up over time with Klarna or PayPal, or opt for 10 or 5 package options to save on sessions versus paying as you go.
5 things I learned during my first tattoo removal session
1. There’s no shame in changing your mind.
This was a big one for me, and one of the reasons I really was drawn to NAAMA as a place to work. There is no tattoo regret or shame when you walk through the door. They celebrate that, as humans, we’re hardwired to evolve. Whether that’s changing our hair colour, our home decor or even the way we speak—why shouldn’t we also have the option to change what we put on our skin?
2. The laser isn’t a scary James Bond laser.
Everyone has a stereotype that getting a tattoo removed is going to hurt more than getting the tattoo in the first place. And that’s definitely not the case. You don’t go into the room and see a massive scary laser like you would in a James Bond film. This laser is small, ultra precise and you hardly feel it.
3. You really have nothing to be worried about—especially when it comes to your skin.
It really is effective removal without the high-energy blast. The team is dedicated to the success of my treatment as much as I am, and it feels good to have someone in your corner. The consultant is constantly verifying the precise dose of energy to administer to create a safe and less painful experience. The laser also has a unique scanning system to accurately dispense the energy evenly and effectively. My skin says thank you.
4. At NAAMA, they talk to you like a person.
I really enjoyed that the treatment has the air of professionalism, but the consultants talk to you like a real person. It’s not like a doctor’s surgery where it’s all clinical and scary. Everyone tells you what’s going on before, during and after. No question felt too silly to ask.
5. Tattoo removal is for tattoo lovers, too.
I used to think everyone who wanted a tattoo removed must hate their ink, but turns out a lot of people that come to NAAMA really love tattoos and tattoo culture. We see people who want one gone so they can reclaim the real estate to add more, want a chance to do over the design or want to fade their tattoo down for a cover-up.
6. Tattoos closer to your heart tend to fade faster.
It makes sense when you think about it—tattoos closer to the main source of blood flow will have more circulation to help move the ink particles through the lymphatic system. How neat is that?
NAAMA aftercare have active ingredients to boost your circulation, soothe irritated skin, and help cells turn over faster. Perfect to use morning and night.
What are the benefits of tattoo removal at NAAMA?
Here’s some of the benefits to removing your ink if—like me—you’re rethinking your tattoos:
- No skin damage. NAAMA takes a skin-first approach, which was really important to me because I didn’t want any scars. Their LightSense™ laser uses controlled, lower energy levels to zap my tattoo and effectively break down the ink, without causing unnecessary harm to my skin.
- Faster results. Subsequent removal treatments can only happen once the skin is fully healed, so it’s a huge benefit that with NAAMA my skin needs less time to heal. I can come in every 2-3 weeks and hopefully have my full removal done in mere months, versus years (gasp!).
- Added precision. The laser has a minuscule beam size that targets the ink with detailed precision helping to avoid unnecessary harm to the surrounding skin. Really great for someone interested in removing part of their tattoo or their permanent makeup.
- You can remove multiple tattoos at the same time. The 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. What a win!
- It’s gone for good. Once removed, that’s it. The results are here to stay.
How can I speed up my tattoo removal progress?
This was the first question I asked. To speed up the process Rebecca advises:
- Following your personal aftercare protocol from your consultant. Your consultant will work with you to advise a plan that suits your removal goals and lifestyle.
- Feeling itchy? Don’t scratch, apply NAAMA aftercare creams instead. They have active ingredients to boost your circulation, soothe irritated skin, and help cells turn over faster. Perfect to use morning and night. Pick some up, here.
- Living a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, stay hydrated and exercise regularly to keep blood flowing and the ink particles moving through the lymphatic system.
- Applying SPF regularly. Keep the area covered for a week after treatment. Then regularly apply sunscreen with high SPF and UVA 4*+ between your treatments.
My final thoughts
I can’t wait to come back for my next session. I never thought I'd be saying that given the stereotype that tattoo removal is utterly painful and damaging, but here I am singing its praises. I’m looking forward to the results and maybe getting a few more removed along the way.
It’s such a cool feeling to know that something once so permanent can be changed. Tattoo removal is like a form of therapy; a chance to finally say goodbye to something that no longer feels like you.