Is laser tattoo removal painful? This is one of the most frequently asked questions about laser tattoo removal. The answer to that is yes. But, thankfully, the process won’t hurt as much as it did when you got the tattoo. Now that you know how to manage your expectations, let’s explore why the procedure is painful in the first place.
Why Tattoo Removal Is Painful
As the name hints, laser tattoo removal uses the vibrations from the intense laser energy to break down tattoo pigment in the upper layer of your skin. Once the pigment breaks down, it can now be absorbed and metabolized by the body. The pain comes from the laser penetrating the epidermis and reacting with the ink during the process.
Some patients equate the pain to a pinprick or the sting of a rubber band. So, while tattoo removal is technically painful, the feeling tends more towards discomfort. That means laser tattoo removal is not as bad as some invasive options like surgery or dermabrasion, which involves scrubbing off the outer layer of the skin.
That being said, the pain level depends on various factors such as the person’s sensitivity, the tattoo’s location, and your mental conditioning. Some people naturally have a low pain threshold, meaning they will experience more discomfort during the procedure. Similarly, other body areas are more sensitive because they contain more pain receptors. For instance, if you’re removing a tattoo from your fingertips or forehead, the discomfort will be intensified.
Sometimes, pain during tattoo removal is all in the mind. If you expect the process to be painful, the expectation will color your experience. Overall, tattoo removal shouldn’t be a more painful experience than getting a tattoo. However, since the process requires multiple sessions and can take years, you will experience prolonged discomfort.
How to Make Tattoo Removal Less Painful
You can apply several tips to minimize the discomfort that occurs during tattoo removal.
- Work with a dedicated tattoo removal clinic. Experienced laser specialists can easily customize the process to minimize discomfort. A trained professional also minimizes the risk of painful skin burns and scarring.
- Make sure the process involves numbing cream. When you go in for your consultation, be sure to check if the laser specialist applies a numbing cream beforehand. This helps make the pain more manageable.
- Use an ice pack. Applying an ice pack to the tattoo spot also helps take the edge off the pain. Avoid placing ice directly onto the skin to prevent cold burns. Some professionals use special equipment to keep the area colder for a more comfortable experience.
- Care for your skin afterwards. The site of your tattoo may feel sensitive after the procedure. If possible, keep the area uncovered and apply a soothing lotion to reduce inflammation. If the site blisters, you may need to apply a salve and bandage the area for a while.
- Limit sun exposure. Part of your aftercare involves staying out of the sun as much as possible. Too much sun exposure affects skin health, so your skin may not handle the penetrating effect of the laser as well during your next session. Experts recommend applying sunscreen when out and about to minimize the risk of skin damage.
- Prep your mind. Mentally preparing for the procedure and keeping an open mind helps. You may be pleasantly surprised at how the process hurts much less than expected. Use breathing techniques to calm the mind and ensure that you’re rested and in the right frame of mind before the procedure.
Why Laser Tattoo Removal Is Worth The Pain Or Discomfort
Like buyer’s regret, tattoo regret is a real thing. While tattoo removal requires multiple sessions and isn’t entirely pain-free, it still presents you with a great opportunity to part ways with unwanted ink. Laser tattoo removal allows for the complete removal of the tattoo given enough time.
The bottom line is, you can expect tattoo removal to be painful or discomforting due to the penetrative effect of the laser and its interaction with the pigment embedded in your skin. On the upside, most people say it hurts less than getting a tattoo. If pain is your main concern, the good news is using a numbing agent can reduce the pain or discomfort.