Get Your Questions and Concerns About Tattoo Removal Answered

Jun 03, 2019

Lots of people get tattoos, and most keep them for life. However, some people decide that they want to remove one or more of their tattoos after some time has passed. Sometimes a tattoo ages more poorly than they’d hoped, or it no longer fits their outlook or personal sense of style--and that’s to say nothing of tattoos that serve as reminders of failed relationships and bad breakups. Sometimes tattoo artists also recommend laser removal to partially lighten or remove an old tattoo before getting alterations or cover-ups done to ensure that the new piece will be able to shine at its best.

If you’ve got a tattoo that you’re no longer in love with, you may be looking into what it will take to get it safely and professionally removed. It’s always a great idea to do your research beforehand, so here are 5 frequently asked questions concerning laser tattoo removal alongside some helpful answers. Read on to get a good idea of what professional tattoo removal can entail so that you can determine whether it’s right for you!

The Five Important Questions

1. How exactly does laser tattoo removal work?

A: A tattoo removal laser shoots incredibly fast bursts of energy into the tattoo pigment where it has healed inside the skin. The laser’s energy then causes the bits of tattoo ink to shatter into much smaller pieces. The most popular laser frequencies used for tattoo removal are 1064 nm and 532 nm, and different frequencies are used depending on the type of ink that needs to be removed. Some colors, such as bright blues and greens, can be especially difficult to remove.

Once the laser shatters the previously contained ink into smaller particles, the body can flush those tiny ink fragments away over time through its natural immune response. This results in the tattoo fading away and becoming far less noticeable.

2. How long will it take to get my tattoo removed?

A: While smaller tattoos can be removed in fewer sessions, it usually takes anywhere between 8 and 20 sessions to completely remove larger pieces. The number of sessions necessary to remove a tattoo will vary according to the types of lasers used at each clinic, so you’ll want to contact individual places in order to book a consultation and get an idea of how long your tattoo will take to remove.

Additionally, you’ll need to allow 6 to 10 weeks in between laser sessions for your skin to heal. Your body will need time to flush the shattered ink and show its progress, and you don’t want to over-tax your immune system. Everyone is different--you might need to wait far longer than the next client will in order for your body to heal.

3. Does it hurt to get laser tattoo removal? If so, how badly?

A: Many people who have gotten laser tattoo removal said that it hurt just about as much to get the tattoo removed as it did to get it put in. Obviously results will vary depending on the individual person’s pain tolerance, but most people find that the pain of laser tattoo removal is totally manageable. If you feel nervous or simply want to get through the process with as little pain as possible, many clinics will offer numbing creams or cooling methods to help you get through each session with minimal discomfort.

4. What should I expect in terms of healing in between treatments?

A: Some swelling and redness closely following treatment is considered to be normal, since the body’s inflammatory responses will be kicking in to flush away the shattered ink particles. Don’t be disappointed or throw in the towel if you don’t see any immediate fading after your first treatment or two--or if the inflammation temporarily makes your tattoo appear even darker than before. Tattoo inks are built up in layers in the skin, and each layer will need to be shattered away with laser treatments before the tattoo can fully fade.

In between treatments, you’ll want to care for the affected area similarly to the way you probably did while the tattoo was healing--much like a blister or wound. Avoid soaking or swimming in lakes, pools, or other large bodies of water. Be very careful about sun exposure and avoid tanning or long periods in direct sunlight as well.

5. How expensive is laser tattoo removal?

A: Most tattoo removal places will offer free consultations, during which you can ask about their individual prices. While the tattoo removal cost varies according to how many sessions you’ll need and which establishment you visit to get it done, you can usually expect each session to run anywhere from $60 - $125. When you budget for your tattoo removal, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to plan for a series of sessions to remove all layers of the tattoo ink and get the desired result.

Now that you’ve seen the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about tattoo removal, perhaps you’ll feel more equipped to look into getting it done yourself. Be sure to reach out to the clinic you’re considering with any questions regarding their process, and you’ll be well on your way to loving your skin all over again!

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