The world’s FIRST ever commercial laser tattoo patient…

The other day I was training some very nice ladies and showed them a couple of photos of a tattoo I had treated with a Q-switched ruby laser.

I realised, as I was talking to them, that this tattoo was the very first tattoo to be treated in our new, commercial clinic. Prior to this all patients had been treated in Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow, where this technique was originally developed, from 1981. In 1989, I opened the world’s first private clinic offering this treatment, in the Schaw Medical Centre, Bearsden, Glasgow.

We were using a Q-switched ruby laser which was originally designed to generate holograms. It was a great device but didn’t like the hot weather!

The above tattoo belonged to a very nice gent who was a bank manager (remember them?!?!) He had been in the Royal Navy and was keen to get rid of this tattoo, and the one below.

He was our very first patient. He gave us a cheque for payment, which we never cashed – instead we framed it. Sadly, it was lost in the mists of time – I wish I knew where it was, it’s an historical document!!

He also wanted the ‘crab’ tattoo below treated at the same time. This didn’t appear to be a problem until he returned after the first session. The red interior areas had all turned black!! We were gob-smacked, as we had never seen this before. I remember telling him that “It will be OK. The laser works better on darker inks…” whilst crossing my fingers behind my back!

Back in those days around 50% of all our patients had ‘amateur’ tattoos which were usually home-made, by the patients themselves, using a needle and India Ink. The remainder were professional tattoos.

As we were the only commercial clinic in the world, at the time, we had patients from all over, including one man who lived in Hong Kong and flew to Glasgow every three months for his treatment. We also had a significant number of people who would drive up from London (400 miles away), or further away, overnight, just for their 20 to 30 minute treatment!!

The funny thing is that we noticed that hair was clearly burnt off during treatments. But we knew, for the early days in Canniesburn, that it would grow back. We didn’t think, at that time, that ‘laser hair removal’ might be a “thing’…

But then, that was a long time ago….



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