WHEN 20-year-old Jackson Halpin went to have laser tattoo removal on his hand, he never expected he'd be left with severe burns and lifelong scars. 

"It pretty much blistered straight away, then after a couple of days it started scabbing up really badly," he said.

"And then it scarred really badly."

Unaware this was not standard procedure; Mr Halpin went back to the Bundaberg business for further treatments.

"They said they'll just use a different laser, they'll turn the heat down on it," he said.

"I presumed they knew what they were doing but after the third or fourth treatments I didn't go back."

Determined to find help, Mr Halpin went to another tattoo removal business, VanishInk on Woongarra St.

DONE RIGHT: Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson talks to Vanishink director Helen Blackburn who runs a clinic fully licenced to remove tattoos using laser technology. A state government crackdown on the use of illegal and potentially highly dangerous lasers to remove tattoos is underway following complaints to the Health Minister. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
DONE RIGHT: Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson talks to Vanishink director Helen Blackburn who runs a clinic fully licenced to remove tattoos using laser technology. A state government crackdown on the use of illegal and potentially highly dangerous lasers to remove tattoos is underway following complaints to the Health Minister. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

VanishInk owner Helen Blackburn told Mr Halpin he was not alone and said many clients came in with scarring from other tattoo removal places around Queensland, not just Bundaberg.

"And the most severe scars are generally through the use of incorrect equipment," Ms Blackburn said.

She believed some businesses were using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) - a hair removal treatment - to remove tattoos.

"And this is absolutely not recommended," she said.

Ms Blackburn approached Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson with her clients' concerns, and she took the issue to Health Minister Cameron Dick.

"It was actually uncovered that it's not just Bundaberg, it's actually a state-wide issue if not Australia wide," Ms Donaldson said.

Mr Dick sent a Queensland Health officer to visit Bundaberg to inspect the machine that had damaged Mr Halpins hand.

"And confirmed it had been incorrectly labelled," Ms Donaldson said.

"It was labelled as a class 3 laser machine, which doesn't require licensing or training.

"But it was in fact a class 4 machine, where the operator does require training."

Guy Wagner had tattoos removed from his hand via laser treatment and suffered significant scarring as a result. Photo: contributed
Guy Wagner had tattoos removed from his hand via laser treatment and suffered significant scarring as a result. Photo: contributed contributed

Ms Donaldson said she'd urge anyone contemplating having tattoos removed to ask a lot of questions.

"Look closely at the laser equipment which is being used and ask the operator whether they are licensed," she said.

"In this case, the machine was too powerful, and has the potential to cause skin burns and can in some cases even lead to blindness."

Mr Halpin said he tried not to show people his hand due to the extent of the scarring.

"I work with business customers and what not, so you try to keep it hidden but you can't always do that," Mr Halpin said.



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