Your Tattoo No Longer for You? Your Ultimate Guide to Tattoo Removal
October 21st, 2019 by David Martin
Did you know that of the people who get tattoos, around 22 percent end up regretting them later in life?
If you’re someone who got a tattoo and now regrets it, you’re probably wondering what to do next.
Thankfully, those who regret their tattoos no longer have to worry—tattoo removal can wash all of your regrets away.
But, what’s the deal with tattoo removal? Does it hurt? Does it cost a bunch of money?
Does it really even work?
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about tattoo removal.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
The first thing that you should know is that there’s more than one way to remove a tattoo. However, the most popular removal method is with a laser.
A certified tattoo removal specialist (sometimes, this person is also a doctor) will use a laser that sends light energy into your skin to break up the ink particles.
The laser helps the ink to come through to the surface of the skin and break into smaller and smaller pieces. After each session, your body’s immune system will work to flush the ink particles away from the tattooed area.
In each additional session, the laser will break the ink down more and more until the tattoo can no longer be seen.
In addition to laser removal, tattoos can sometimes be removed surgically. In fact, surgical removal was the original removal method for tattoos until laser removal came along. However, laser removal is usually the best option, as surgical removal often results in scarring and unwanted side effects.
Does It Hurt?
Now, we get to the main question on everyone’s minds: “How bad does tattoo removal hurt?”
We’re not going to lie to you, laser tattoo removal is definitely not pain-free. However, the pain is definitely not unbearable. In fact, most people say that it hurts just a little more than getting a tattoo.
But, the good thing is that laser tattoo removal sessions are much shorter than tattooing sessions. While tattooing sessions can take several hours, laser tattoo removal sessions usually take no longer than several minutes, even less if the tattoo is small.
Plus, you can opt to have numbing cream applied to your skin in order to ease some of the pain.
How Long Does It Take to Remove a Tattoo?
How long it takes to remove a tattoo depends on several factors. These include:
- How old the tattoo is: the older it is, the easier it will be to remove, as the ink has had time to fade
- The placement of the tattoo: generally, the closer the tattoo is to your heart, the quicker it can be removed
- Colors: black ink is the easiest to remove, the more colors you have, the longer it will take to remove
- The size: the bigger the tattoo, the longer it will take to remove
- Your skin tone: the lighter your skin tone, the easier the tattoo is to remove, as the laser can better pick up on the contrast
It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone’s skin reacts differently to the lasers, so this will also affect the length of the removal process.
Generally speaking though, it takes 6 to 8 sessions to remove a tattoo, with each session needing to be at least 8 weeks apart. So, at a minimum, you’re usually looking at around a year to fully remove a tattoo.
Also, while you can schedule a removal session every 8 weeks if you’re in a rush to get it removed, many people find that they need fewer removal sessions in total when they schedule them farther apart. This is because the longer you wait between each session, the more time the ink will have to separate.
How Much Does It Cost?
The total cost of tattoo removal will vary greatly from person to person. Generally speaking, removal specialists charge a flat rate of around $50. Then, the price goes up from there depending on the color and the size of the tattoo.
Luckily, most places give free consultations, so you can shop around for the best price.
However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t choose a tattoo removal shop just because it’s cheap. Improper tattoo removal can severely damage your skin, so you want to make sure that you choose a specialist who has plenty of experience and is using the most advanced equipment.
If you’re thinking about getting other treatments done, such as cellulite treatment, you may want to pick a full-service spa and see if they offer packaged deals.
If you want your tattoo to be removed with no adverse side effects, then you need to make sure that you follow the aftercare instructions very carefully.
While your tattoo removal specialist will give you a full breakdown of what you need to do to care for your tattoo afterward, here’s what you should generally expect:
- You shouldn’t go out in the sun unprotected for at least a few weeks. If you do go out in the sun, make sure to generously apply sunscreen every few hours
- After the removal, you’ll need to wear a sterilized bandage over the tattoo for about 3 days
- Some people develop scabs from the removal process, if you do, make sure not to pick at them, as this can result in scarring
- In order to reduce inflammation and discomfort, you may apply a cool compress to the tattoo 24 hours after removal
- Wait 24 hours to exercise after treatment so as not to agitate your skin
- Itchiness is a very common side effect as a result of the drying skin, so make sure to apply hydrocortisone cream to your tattoo and resist the urge to itch it
- You can generally shower 2 hours after your treatment
- Avoid putting makeup around the area for at least two days following treatment
Also, keep in mind that tattoo removal does come with some side effects, with the most common ones being bruising, itching, swelling, tenderness, redness, and hypo/hyperpigmentation. While these side effects are normal, you should immediately seek medical help if you experience oozing, spreading redness, or honey-colored crusting.
Are You Ready for Tattoo Removal?
Now that you know about the tattoo removal process, it’s time to schedule your appointment.
And, be sure to check back in with our blog for more articles like this one!