Mr Banwell, Cosmetic Surgeon is one of the leading specialists in the area of surgical tattoo excision and surgical tattoo removal in the UK. He performs effective surgical tattoo removal, tattoo excision and laser tattoo removal in his clinics (The Banwell Clinic) in the South East. As a specialist in this field, he attracts patients from all over the country for these affordable procedures. For tattoo excision, laser tattoo removal, surgical tattoo excision and surgical tattoo removal in Kent , Surrey, Sussex and London or indeed further afield please email or phone 0845 2600 261. His team would be happy to discuss your requirements.

Surgical Tattoo Excision / Surgical Tattoo Removal - the procedure

This refers simply to the surgical removal (cutting out) of a tattoo on the skin, carried out by either a doctor, surgeon or dermatologist. The resultant wound is usually then put back together with stitches (sutures). Surgical excision of a tattoo swaps the tattoo for a (usually) linear scar. Sometimes it is not possible to remove the tattoo all in one go and several procedures are required (serial excision of tattoo). My Banwell will advise on whether this is possible when he sees you in the clinic. Please note that larger tattoos may not be suitable for this technique and skin grafting may be the only surgical option.

History of Tattoos

The facts say historically, tattoos have been around as a means of changing body image for centuries. For instance, in 1991 an ice mummy (dating back to 3000BC) was found in the Alps with over 50 tattoos on the body. The connotations of tattoos have also changed over time too: in the past they used to be associated with criminals and less favourable members of society but today celebrities and high profile figures sport tattoos as body art and act as role models for younger people. Never before have tattoos been more popular and the number of outlets in the UK offering tattoo services has almost doubled in the last few years (to over 1300!). There now appears to be no stigmatisation amongst the general population with having tattoos on their bodies, and tattoos are becoming more common among women, professionals and all ethnic groups.

Statistics say probably over 20 million people in the United Kingdom have a tattoo of some kind on their body and various surveys in the USA reveal on average that about 35% of young Americans aged between 18 to 29, 25% of those between 30 to 40 years and 10% of those between 40 to 49 years have tattoos.  Esquire Magazine estimated in 2002 that 1 in 8 Americans was tattooed. That is a lot of tattoos.

Regret and altered job prospects

However, just as the popularity for tattoos increases, so does the desire for removal grows too: Mr Banwell has seen a rapid demand for surgical tattoo removal as people either have regrets about having a tattoo or feel as though it is hindering their job prospects or personal relationships. Many of his patients have tried extensive (unsuccessful) courses of laser removal but then come to him for definitive surgical removal. “Whilst lasers can be useful for removal of some tattoos, many of my patients come to me disappointed and seeking an alternative solution. Surgical removal is often possible under a local anaesthetic in the outpatient department either in one sitting or as part of serial removal. The results can be very rewarding and patients are delighted.” However, some larger tattoos may require a skin graft or may not be suitable for removal at all (eg. ‘sleeve’ tattoos).

Happy Patients

Mr Banwell recently received a letter of thanks from a grateful patient who had obtained a tattoo in her younger days, in a moment of madness, which had subsequently been a source of embarrassment for many years. “It is very gratifying to see that such a simple procedure can have such a major effect on someone’s well-being”.

Mr Banwell can be consulted in East Grinstead for guaranteed tattoo removal, London for surgical tattoo removal, Haywards Heath for surgical tattoo excision, Brighton for tattoo excision and Tunbridge Wells for tattoo excision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does it involve?


    The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic (with you awake and the skin numbed by giving an injection) but sometimes a general anaesthetic may be necessary. This is a quick and simple procedure with a short recovery period. Some tattoo’s require serial excision (ie. sequential removal of tattoos in stages) as they may be more extensive.

  • How long does the surgery take?

    The operation itself may take at best between 30 - 60 minutes, depending upon the size of tattoo being removed. You will be in the operating theatre for slightly longer than this to prepare for surgery beforehand and have the injection of the local anaesthetic.

  • What happens after the operation?

    After the surgery the wound will be dressed with brown micropore tape. This can get wet (showering or washing) but you should not soak in the bath. You will be able to shower the day after surgery, after which you can pat the tape dry with a towel then use a hairdryer. It is important to ensure the tape is fully dried. This will stay in place until after your stitches are removed. Mr Banwell may also give you antibiotics medication in some instances during the aftercare process.

  • How long before daily activities may be resumed?

    You will be able to return to sedentary activity (i.e. an office job) the following day, but should avoid strenuous physical activity for a minimum of 2-weeks. Stitches may be removed between 1- and 2-weeks after the surgery although often Mr Banwell prefers to use dissolvable sutures. You will be able to drive the following day if you are careful. If the operation was on your neck, it is important not to bend down or lift things for 48-hours after the operation – this is to minimise the risk of bleeding (for example, when doing up shoe laces, bring your foot up whilst sitting down, rather than bending down). It is also a good idea to use a couple of pillows when sleeping to avoid laying flat. This helps minimize swelling.

  • What are the success rates?

    This is a safe, reliable and simple procedure with a low complication rate. 

  • What are the possible complications?

    Surgical tattoo excision and tattoo removal is usually very safe but some pain, and complications can occur. These include scarring, adverse scarring, wound infection, bleeding (usually just bleeding through the dressing), numbness, contour irregularity damage to nerves and vessels, delayed wound healing and the formation of a lumpy scar (known as a hypertrophic or keloid scar). Mr Banwell will discuss whether it is possible to remove your tattoo surgically. Sometimes this can be performed in one sitting but sometimes serial surgical removal of tattoo is required.

    Please note that smoking can increase the rate of complications and Mr Banwell may decide that surgery may not be appropriate if you are still smoking.

Please contact Mr Banwell's office on 01342 330302 or email for further information.

E-mail Paul Banwell

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Skin Care

At a Glance

60 Minutes




Sleeping Position
Sleeping on back recommended


Shower after 1 day.


Excercise including gym
2 weeks

Restricted Activity



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