Tattoo removal glossary

DECEMBER 19, 2022

Read our guide to tattoo removal terms. From fluency to dermis, consider this your one-stop-shop for all the big buzz words in the industry.

There are a lot of terms thrown around in the world of tattoo removal, and we’re here to break them down for you. Here’s our NAAMA guide to tattoo removal terms:


The process of taking care of your tattoo after removal treatments to help speed up results. This includes (but is not limited to) using medical grade dressing, applying aftercare creams to supercharge your cell turn over and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Body art

Another term used for tattoos, that thinks of tattoos as a self-expressive art form and the body as the canvas.

Cosmetic tattoo

A tattoo meant to mimic the appearance of makeup (lip blushing, lipstick, etc) or a cosmetic feature (hairline, eyebrow hairs, etc). Can be referred to as permanent makeup.


A method used in laser treatments to provide some relief, protection and offset the feeling of the laser. There are several methods of cooling.

At NAAMA we use a top-of-the-line cryo cooling system during your treatment. The machine sends freezing cold air to the skin pre, during and after your treatment to reduce any discomfort from the laser.


A tattoo that is done over top of another tattoo. An approach often taken to change the appearance of a former tattoo. Can be done by reworking the old design, putting a new design over top or after a removal with a fresh canvas.

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The body’s second layer of skin. It sits under the epidermis, which is the first layer of skin. Because the dermis is deeper, it’s the layer of skin made up of things like our sweat glands, lymph vessels, blood vessels, hair follicles and more. For a tattoo to remain in the skin, the ink needs to sit within this deeper layer of the dermis.


The wait time between your tattoo removal treatments. We call it ‘downtime’ because it is the time your skin needs to heal before you can have your following treatment.

The LightSense™ laser system is gentle enough that we can treat the skin every 2-3 weeks, leading to faster tattoo removal results.


Efficacy is a measure of how well a treatment works or how effective it is at achieving its intended result, in this case the success of a removal.


The top or outermost layer of the skin. Its main job is to keep your skin hydrated, protected and create new skin cells. It also contains melanin pigment, which is what determines your skin’s natural colour. This is important because your skin colour will help guide the treatment course to ensure the pigment is preserved while the tattoo ink is removed.


A form of removal that looks to fade down the tattoo ink to get the skin ready and clear for a cover-up tattoo. Often a full removal isn’t necessary as the new design will cover the remainder of the previous design.

Fitzpatrick scale

A shade scale used to assess how much melanin pigment is in the skin and how it reacts to ultraviolet radiation. It can be used as a guide to assess different skin tones and their sun sensitivity for things like risk of skin cancer and sunburn. Also known as Fitzpatrick skin types (FST or FSP).

During your consultation and patch test, our experts will use the Fitzpatrick scale as a guide to assess your skin tone and adjust the laser settings for your treatment.


The terminology used to describe the amount of laser beam energy delivered per area of the skin.


A white residue that shows up on the skin during tattoo removal treatment. It happens as the laser is used over the tattoo and has a ‘frosted’ appearance turning the tattoo almost white. The appearance is temporary and can fade in minutes to a day.

Handheld unit

The part of our LightSense™ laser that the consultants use to deliver the laser beam to the skin. It is a handheld device that the consultant controls to deliver precise, targeted energy straight to the tattoo ink molecules, without damaging the surrounding skin.

It includes a focusing lens and a spacer attachment that adjust the distance between the skin and the focusing lens to deliver the precise amount of energy needed to target the ink.


When darker patches of skin develop around the tattoo during treatment.

This can be avoided by using a lower energy laser like LightSense™ that effectively breaks down ink pigment without over-blasting or damaging the skin.


When lighter patches of skin develop around the tattoo during treatment.

This can be avoided by using a lower energy laser like LightSense™ that effectively breaks down ink pigment without harming the skin.

LightSense™ is the world's leading tattoo removal laser that achieves effective removal results in less time.


The substance used to create a tattoo, made up of pigments suspended in a carrier solution.


An acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and the device used to carry out your tattoo removal treatment. It emits a direct beam of light to the tattoo ink and breaks down the ink molecules into smaller particles that the lymphatic system can clear through the body.

LightSense™ laser system

The world's leading tattoo removal laser. LightSense™ achieves effective removal results using 34x less energy than the average Pico laser, leaving skin healthy after every treatment.

Developed at Princeton University, it's FDA and CE-certified and has over 10,000 successful treatments completed. See the results here.


A substance in the body that produces pigment for our hair, skin and eyes. Melanin acts as the body’s defence against ultraviolet (UV) light to protect the skin from sun damage. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have. Areas of the skin can have more melanin too—like freckles and moles.


The name for the cells that produce melanin in the body.


When something is for life.

Permanent makeup

A tattoo meant to mimic the appearance of makeup (lip blushing, lipstick, etc) or a cosmetic feature (hairline, eyebrow hairs, etc).


The colored substances in tattoo ink that are responsible for the visible aspects of the tattoo.

Pulse energy

The delivery of laser energy to the skin in short bursts, rather than continuously. Laser tattoo removal involves the use of a laser to break down the pigments in the tattoo ink and allow the body to naturally remove them.

The laser energy is delivered to the skin in pulses, with each pulse lasting only a fraction of a second. The duration, intensity, and frequency of the pulses can be adjusted to optimise the treatment for different types of tattoos and skin types. Pulse tattoo removal can be more effective than continuous laser treatment because it allows the skin to cool between pulses, reducing the risk of damage to the surrounding tissue.

Pulse length

The amount of time during a pulse.


A tattoo removal treatment. One session equals one treatment. The goal of tattoo removal treatment is to effectively and safely remove the tattoo, while minimising the risk of scarring or other side effects.


An attachment piece that goes on the end of the LightSense™ laser system’s handheld unit to adjust the distance between the skin and the focusing lens. There are several different sizes.


The process of protecting the skin during tattoo removal. The LightSense™ laser system uses controlled, lower energy levels to effectively clear tattoos without unnecessary harm to your skin.

Spot sizer

The width of the laser’s beam controls how much of the beam comes in contact with the skin.

At NAAMA, the LightSense™ laser we use has a minuscule laser spot size that’s 11x smaller than the average Pico laser. Perfect for cosmetic tattoos and partial removals.


A human-made mark on the body done by inserting pigment into the skin with repetitive punctures. The process can be done by hand or with a tattoo gun. The ink pigment particles are large and inserted into the deeper layers of the skin—too big for the body to flush out. This makes the tattoo permanent.

Tattoo removal

The process to remove an unwanted tattoo that uses laser energy to break down the pigments in tattoo ink, allowing the body to naturally remove them.

At NAAMA, we often call it ‘tattoo clearing’ by putting the focus on getting the skin clear, healthy and ready for whatever’s next. We believe that tattoo clearing doesn’t need to be rooted in shame or regret, but in empowerment of changing your mind.


The distance between successive crests of a wave of light or laser energy. In laser tattoo removal, the wavelength of the laser energy is an important factor in determining the effectiveness of the treatment.

Different tattoo ink colours absorb different wavelengths of laser energy more effectively, so the wavelength of the laser must be carefully chosen to match the specific ink colours in the tattoo. For example, black and blue inks are often more effectively removed with a laser that has a shorter wavelength, while green and red inks may require a longer wavelength.

The wavelength of the laser can also affect the safety and effectiveness of the treatment for different skin types and tones.