Nobody gets a tattoo thinking that one day down the line that they’ll be getting it removed, but whether it’s a nasty breakup or you’ve just changed your mind, many do wind up looking to have their tattoo removed.
While there are a couple of alternatives which we’ll mention later, laser removal is definitely the most effective option, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Does it Hurt?
The idea of having a laser pointed at your skin is understandably quite a concerning one, but there’s not too much to worry about.
Essentially, if you were ok enough with pain to get the tattoo in the first place, the removal won’t be a problem.
According to the team at Jeunesse Beauty: “The process can cause a little bit of pain, but it’s generally described as being no worse than the feeling of having an elastic band pinged against your skin. Just treat it as you did with the initial tattoo and it’s not too bad!”
For more information on exactly how laser removal works, check out this article from Business Insider.
How Long Does It Take?
Having a tattoo removed is not a quick process, so don’t expect instant results. Exactly how long it’ll take will depend on factors such as the size of the tattoo, whether it’s coloured or not and your own skin.
However, each removal will take multiple sessions (sometimes as many as 20 or so), which will take place over a period of a couple of months.
Essentially, darker and older tattoos with limited colours are the easiest to remove, while those with brighter colours will take longer.
While you’ll start to see results after a few sessions, to actually completely eradicate the tattoo is unfortunately quite a frustratingly long process and once the treatment is over, it’ll still take some time for the body to purge the rest of the ink from your body.
In fact, in some cases, it might even be impossible to completely get rid of the ink and you might be left with a ‘ghosting’ effect with a white shadow of the original tattoo (this is particularly a problem for those with darker skin, in which case tattoo removal is rarely recommended).
This article from the Telegraph shows just how long and costly the process of having a tattoo removed can turn out to be.
After the Treatment
After your treatment is over, it’s not uncommon for the area to scab over a bit before it properly heals and it’s important that the skin doesn’t get irritated during the healing process.
This is why it’s so important to leave the area alone and be patient while you wait for it to heal.
You should be given some anti-bacterial cream to apply to the affected area after your treatment, but there are a couple of other steps that you should take as well.
For example, avoid UV exposure as much as possible and cover up if you do go out in the sun, or ensure that it is well covered with sun cream.
Exercise can also cause the area to become inflamed and drinking alcohol will slow down the fading as it impairs your liver’s ability to flush out the ink.
If the idea of lasers freak you out that much, unfortunately, a lot of the alternative methods that are suggested either don’t work (at best) or at worst can wind up causing damage to your skin.
There are some saline/glycolic acid treatments, but these will just fade the tattoo rather than removing it completely, so are best used in conjunction with laser treatment, rather than instead of.
In addition, when using these treatments you have to leave the affected area completely alone, which means you can’t even get it wet when showering.