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Is Tattoo Removal Painful?

Dr. Dhananjay Chavan

Sep 23, 2018

Have you outgrown your tattoo? Did you get it on a whim, on a dare, or in passion? Has your tattoo now become a painful memory that you wish to be rid of?

Well, the process of doing so will hurt, but the pain is bearable. Probably much more bearable than the idea of living with your unwanted tattoo.

In fact, for most people, the sensation of removal is comparable to the one experienced during the application of the tattoo. It is commonly described as the sensation of being snapped by a rubber band.

The level of pain you’ll experience also depends on the location of your tattoo, your threshold for pain, and on the kind of laser removal treatment used. The Q-switch is the most common type of laser used.

Older and amateur tattoos are easier to remove, while the ones located on extremities are difficult to treat since the circulation is relatively poor. Black pigment absorbs all wavelengths and so is the easiest to remove, while green, yellow, and fluorescent inks are notoriously difficult to remove.

While some pain is inescapable, it can be kept to the minimum through methods:

  • Ice Packs: Ice packs are an easy and cost-efficient method to numb pain. Although they can be used only before and free treatment, but not during, 5-10 minutes of compression is enough for the skin to be adequately numbed.
  • Topical Numbing Creams: These include benzocaine, lidocaine, and others, available in different strengths and formulations, which when applied about 30-45 minutes prior to treatment, help in numbing the pain.
  • Pain Relievers: Non-aspirin painkillers like Tylenol can be taken a few hours before treatment to minimize pain, and to avoid the risk of bleeding and bruising as seen with aspirin and other non-steroidal drugs.
  • Lidocaine Injections: These anesthetic injections are given locally at the site to be treated to effectively numb the pain. 
  • Cold Air Machines: These are used in all high volume tattoo removal clinics. They provide fast and convenient numbing; and unlike ice packs, they can be applied before, during, and after treatment. Zimmer Cryo 6 cold air machine is the gold standard for tattoo removal. It works by blowing cold air (-30°C) on the skin for a few minutes, after which the skin is thoroughly numbed for treatment.

Prior to treatment, discuss all your doubts and discomforts regarding the procedure with your dermatologist, and get them resolved.

  • Drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine, and keeping your skin hydrated throughout the course of treatment can also help reduce the pain.
  • If you’re a woman, avoid scheduling your sessions during your menstrual cycles, when you will be less tolerant, both in mind and body. Talk to your clinician during your sessions, squeeze the stress ball, and keep yourself distracted. It’ll be over before you know it!
  • Each session lasts about 1-10 minutes, so treating a tattoo is much faster than getting it, albeit more expensive. Most tattoos require about six to fifteen sessions, at an interval of three weeks.
  • There is no scarring or damage to your skin after laser tattoo removal. After treatment, the doctor will apply an antibacterial ointment and a dressing to the area. The skin might feel sunburned and remain red for a few days, or scab may form before healing occurs. The same pain reduction measures described above can be used after treatment as well.

ClearSkin Clinic specializes in laser tattoo removal treatment, ensuring minimal pain and discomfort. Besides, only you can determine the cost of erasing an old mistake.

For any more doubts or skepticism regarding tattoo removal, feel free to contact us at ClearSkin Clinic.

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