Can I get my tattoo removed on the NHS?

Tattoo removal is rarely available on the NHS.

Cosmetic surgery

Surgery for cosmetic reasons is not usually available on the NHS if, for example, you no longer like or want your tattoo.

In rare cases, cosmetic surgery may be required to protect a person's health  for example, if their doctor thinks their tattoo is causing them significant distress or serious mental health problems.

Tattoo removal

To get a tattoo removed on the NHS, you must meet specific guidelines set out by your local clinical commissioning group (CCG). You should see your GP first as they will need to refer you for treatment.

If your GP thinks you may be suitable for NHS treatment, they will refer you to a consultant, who will decide whether treatment on the NHS is appropriate. Before they decide, they may ask you to have a psychological assessment.

Treatment to remove tattoos is available at private clinics. You will have to pay for private treatment.

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Further information:

Getting a tattoo: the health risks to be aware of

In this video, a GP explains the health risks associated with tattooing, such as skin infection, allergies and hepatitis, and members of the public talk about their experiences. Also get tips on what to look for when choosing where to get a tattoo.

Media last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/08/2018

Page last reviewed: 08/05/2015

Next review due: 15/05/2018