Does tattoo removal hurt? If you’re considering getting a tattoo removed or faded, this is undoubtedly a question on your mind. The most advanced process is laser tattoo removal, which requires multiple treatments and can be a painful process.
The decision to get a tattoo removed for your wedding day or any other reason is a big choice to make and one that should be thought through. So let’s look at what you need to know about the procedure, and how much pain is involved to erase the ink!
How does laser tattoo removal work?
Laser surgery for tattoo removal works by using bright pulses of light and directing them over the tattoo to break up the tattoo’s ink or pigment. Once you’ve had the procedure performed, the body works at removing the pigment residue that is left within your skin cells, further erasing the tattoo.
Some tattoo colours are more easily removed than others. For example, black pigment is susceptible to all laser wavelengths so it is generally the easiest tone to take off. Colours such as green seem to absorb the light from the laser, meaning it often isn’t as easy to remove.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
So how does it feel to have your tattoo removed? People who’ve had it done says it feels like having hot oil dotted on your skin, or getting you body slapped by a thin rubber band repeatedly. Sensitive areas of the body will be a little more painful than others.
To help you prepare for the laser tattoo removal pain, doctors suggest taking painkillers that aren’t aspirin, such as paracetamol, to help you prepare for the discomfort.
Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen should be avoided because they can sometimes cause increased bruising following the procedure.
Do some laser tattoo removal machines hurt more than others?
Some people may experience more discomfort during treatment with certain lasers, such as those that use longer wavelengths of energy, because they can penetrate deeper into the skin and may be more effective at removing the tattoo pigment. However, newer lasers that use shorter wavelengths and lower energy levels may be less painful but may require more treatment sessions to achieve the same results.
According to Peter from Disappear Ink, a tattoo removal clinic in Sydney, “a Class 4 medical-grade tattoo removal laser system in conjunction with a cold air machine” is the most effective treatment while minimising tattoo removal pain.
Other pain treatments
If you feel the pain of getting your tattoo removed might prove too much, you can also get your doctor to prescribe you some anaesthetic cream, which you should apply about two hours before the treatment.
The cream is then removed just before the procedure begins, and helps to numb the skin so you can avoid feeling much of the pain.
Another option is to have the clinic inject you with local anaesthetic just before they begin the procedure.
How many treatments will I need for my tattoo removal?
You will need to book in for more than one laser treatment to completely remove your tattoo. The good news is that a laser removal session only takes minutes – a good sign when you think about the pain that is sometimes involved.
Each tattoo is different though and will need a different number of sessions to remove. The number of sessions generally depend on what type of ink was used to create the tattoo and how deeply the needles injected the tattoo ink. The Tattoo pictured took seven treatments to completely remove. Even though this is a small tattoo it had deeply placed ink.
Normally the laser tattoo removal clinic will ask for three week intervals between treatments, so the ink pigment has time to be absorbed by your body’s cells.
What happens after a laser removal session?
The doctor in charge of your procedure will use antibacterial ointment and cover and dress the treated area following your session. You should keep this area clean and continue to apply the ointment as often as your doctor says.
You should be fine to have a shower a day after the treatment, but try not to touch the area when you do.
Following a laser session, your skin might feel like it has been burnt by the sun and the area can possibly remain red for a number of weeks. In some cases, the area will form a scab, so be careful not to pick it off. Over time though, the area will return to looking like normal and the tattoo should fade.
And there you have it – how much tattoo removal hurts depends on a number of things from colour to the location on your body. But the good news is with pain management and a short procedure you can minimise discomfort when getting your tattoo removed.
Have you undergone the procedure? Let us know what it was like in the comments below!