Glossary of Tattoo Removal terms

A list of the more commonly used terms in tattoo removal.


Absorption - The ability to ingest or take something in, for example, a tattoo removal cream.

Adverse reaction - The name given to the undesirable side effects of a procedure or medication.

Anaesthetic - A drug injected into the skin at the start of the tattoo removal procedure, to prevent pain and discomfort.

Atypical tattoo - A tattoo located on an unusual part of the body, for example the palms of the hands.


Blackwork - A black tattoo or a tattoo done in different tones of grey.

Body art - Decoration of the human body for aesthetic purposes.


Collagen - A type of protein found in connective tissues within the body which gives your skin its elasticity.

Cream - A water-based substance which can be applied to the skin.

Chinese tattoos - Types of tattoos which are based upon symbols or characters.

Cosmetic tattoo - A type of tattoo which is designed to cover up a skin blemish or scars following breast surgery.

Cover-up - This tattoo is designed to overlay an old tattoo or one that is misshapen/badly done.There are two ways of doing this: one way is to rework the current tattoo into a new and slick looking design. The other is to cover up the current tattoo with a new design altogether.


Dermabrasion - A cosmetic procedure which involves using a sanding device (dermatome) to remove layers of skin which contain a tattoo.

Dermis - The inner layer of skin which lies beneath the outer layer or epidermis. This contains the hair follicles and blood vessels.

Ditch - The name given to the area inside the elbow joint which is one of the most difficult places to have a tattoo.

Durian - The name given to a traditional Borneo tattoo especially popular with men.


Enthusiast - A devotee of tattooing and/or body piercing.

Epidermis - The outer layer of skin. This contains cells called melanocytes which are responsible for the production of melanin the colour of our skin.

Excision - Surgical removal of a tattoo.


Flash - The name given to the designs used for creating tattoos. These are usually sheets of drawings that hang up in a tattoo parlour.

Floral tattoos - These are popular with women and have a range of different meanings.


Gang tattoos - Tattoos worn by members of a gang as a means of identification, and to distinguish themselves from other gangs.

Genital tattoos - Tattoos that are found on the labia in women and the penis and testicles in men.


Hyper-pigmentation - A condition which occurs during laser tattoo removal in which dark patches of skin develop around the treated tattoo.

Hypo-pigmentation - Similar to above except that the skin lightens in colour during this treatment which gives it a washed outappearance.

Hepatitis - A group of viruses which can cause an inflammation of the liver. This is caused by a variety of reasons which include non-sterile tattooing.There are three versions of this disease: hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Hypertrophic scar - An overgrowth of scar tissue that doesnt spread beyond the confines of the treated area.


Impetigo - A highly contagious skin infection which produces sores or blisters.

Infection - A disease caused by bacteria or some other organism in the body. Infections can occur in tattoos which havent been properly looked after or where done in unhygienic conditions.

Ink - The pigments or colours used in a tattoo. It can also be a slang term for a tattoo.


Japanese tattoo - A type of tattoo that usually covers the whole body. Often associated with Japanese gangsters (yakuza).


Keloid - A type of scar which is hard and smooth and grows beyond the confines of a treated area.


Laser - This stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It emits a powerful beam of light which can focus in and remove layers of a tattoo.

Lettering - A type of tattoo which consists of words rather than symbols or images.

Liner - The needle used to create a tattoo.


Micro-organism - A type of organism which can cause an infection.

Minimum age - The lower age limit in regard to having a tattoo done. The minimum age for a tattoo in the UK is 18.


New school tattoos - A contemporary type of tattoo that uses bright colours and strong outlines. Often seen as a challenge by younger tattoo artists.


Old school tattoos - Tattoos which refer back to the early days of body art. They are characterised by heavy shading and limited colours.


Pigment - A dry material which is mixed with liquid to become a colour or ink in a tattoo.


None at present.


Rose tattoos - A tattoo which has become a firm favourite amongst women.


Scar - A layer of tissue which forms over a wound as a protective measure.

Shader - A group of needles which fill and add shadow to a tattoo. These are used after the outline has been drawn.


Tattoo artist - A person who is skilled and experienced in tattooing.

Tattoo gun - This is more commonly known as a tattoo machine. It is a device which contains a series of needles which apply tattoo inks to the skin.

Temporary tattoo - A type of tattoo, usually a transfer or decal sticker that enables a design to be applied to the skin. These can easily be removed using soap and water.

Topical - This refers to a type of medication, e.g. anaesthetic which acts upon a certain area of skin that it has been applied to.


None at present.


Virus - The name given to a type of organism which invades the cells of the body where it replicates itself. This results in more viruses which then attack certain areas of the body.A virus can be transmitted to a person due to unhygienic conditions during tattooing.


None at present.


None at present.


None at present.


None at present.

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