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01342 330302

Surgical Tattoo Removal

Mr Banwell, Cosmetic Surgeon is one of the leading specialists in the area of surgical tattoo removal (excision) 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 of England. As a specialist in this field, he attracts patients from all over the country for these affordable procedures. For tattoo excision, laser tattoo removal and surgical tattoo removal in London, Kent , Surrey and or indeed further afield please email or phone 01342 330302. His team would be happy to discuss your requirements.


Surgical tattoo removal refers to the surgical excision (cutting out) of a tattoo on the skin. This is carried out by Mr Paul Banwell FRCS(Plast), Consultant Plastic Surgeon, who is a specialist in tattoo removal. The resultant wound is usually then put back together with stitches (sutures). Surgical excision 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 tattoo excision) – this usually applies to medium to large tattoos and those in difficult anatomical locations. Mr Banwell will advise on whether surgical removal is possible when he sees you in the clinic; please note that photographs sent through in advance can also be very useful. Please note that larger tattoos may not be suitable for this technique and skin grafting may be the only surgical option.


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.


However, just as the popularity for tattoos increases, so does the desire for removal too: Mr Banwell has seen a rapid demand for 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).


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, Harley Street London for surgical tattoo removal, Haywards Heath for surgical tattoo excision, Brighton for tattoo excision and Tunbridge Wells for tattoo excision. He accepts patients from all over the UK and indeed the world. One of his grateful patients appeared in The Telegraph discussing her experiences and indeed has written an influential blog on the subject.

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Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance

60 Minutes


Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance

Sleeping on back recommended


Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance

Shower after 1 day.


Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance

2 weeks


Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance

Restricted Activity


Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



Surgical Tattoo Removal
At a Glance



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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

I cannot thank you enough for the assiduous care and attention that you so generously gave to me before, during and after surgery. The level of detailed information you gave to me, your patience in answering my myriad questions and your generosity of spirit, ensured the whole experience was not in the least daunting. The outcome has been well beyond my expectations and I am unreservedly delighted with the outcome. Thank you so much for all your genuine and enjoyable exchanges.

Bridget R.

I am delighted to say that everything has settled down very well and my upper lids are looking extremely good. I would like to thank you for the tremendous care you have taken with me over the past 15 months.

Rosemary F.

The team at the McIndoe Surgical Centre who looked after me were very friendly and helpful. They calmed me down and put to rest any last minute concerns. I love the outcome of the surgery and would definitely recommend Mr Banwell to other people.

Francesca L.

I asked around and was told that Mr Banwell was the best in his field. I don’t know what my expectations were but the result was great, all my friends think my eyes look brighter and more open. I had no bruising which I was told I might have. Mr Banwell and his team excelled in making my life very easy for me, with arrangements and liaising with the hospital which didn’t always have my details correct, they were very helpful and answered all my questions, nothing was too much trouble. Mr Banwell put me at ease and I was not worried about the operation at all.

Wendy B.

I was delighted with my care, it was faultless in all aspects.

I would have no hesitation recommending Mr Banwell.


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The Banwell Clinic is recognised as a boutique cosmetic clinic specialising in all aspects of skin health and our philosophy is to help Protect, Restore & Rejuvenate your face and body.  Our extensive portfolio of treatments include injectables, thread lifts, plasma shower, luxurious signature facials, acne treatments, microdermabrasion, hair removal and cellulite treatments, all carried out in a friendly, warm environment by an expert team.

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