A complete guide on what to expect from the tattoo removal process.
The fact that you can now get a tattoo removed at all is another feather in the cap for medical science. However, this cosmetic process is no walk in the park. Tattoo Cares has put together this 5 step guide to help you understand exactly what to expect from tattoo removal.
1. How Long Will it Take?
One treatment is definitely not going to be enough.
It is impossible to determine in advance how many sessions you are on the hook for, so prepare yourself for multiple visits to the chair. A treatment usually runs for approximately 8-12 sessions, and even this can leave unsatisfactory results.
One aspect to factor into your tattoo removal is downtime. The risk of skin irritation is huge where lasers are involved which prohibits quick returns to the treatment table.
As a result, you can expect to wait anywhere between 4 -8 weeks in between appointments. Any kind of side effects and the time will increase further.
An average patient with no significant reactions to the treatment is looking at 10 treatments, 6 weeks apart. That amounts to around 60 weeks of treatment, or in other words, over a year.
Of course, everything depends on the kind of tattoo you have, but prepare to play the long game.
2. Does it Hurt?
It stings a little.
Don’t freak out though, there are plenty of remedies for the pain and discomfort. Some of these include topical anesthesia, cool compresses, and soothing gels.
The removal lasers break down the tattoo ink by dismantling it, the ink particles then get progressively smaller until the body’s macrophages are able to digest them.
Basically, on a microscopic level, the laser is turning large rocks into smaller stones and then into fine sand. The cells in your body then absorb the microscopic sand particles.
You also have to factor in where on the body the tattoo is because some areas are more sensitive than others. The discomfort doesn’t stop when you leave the office either. You can expect blisters and burns that have to be soothed and dressed for up to a week after the treatment.
The discomfort eases off as the treatment progresses because there is less dissolution of your skin pigments.
Anesthesia is necessary because of the intense power and heat of the laser which is destroying the pigments under your skin.
In most cases, the pain of removing a tattoo is no worse than the pain of getting one. Just don’t be mistaken into thinking its a walk in the park. This is a serious scientific burning.
3. How Much Will it Cost?
I hope you’ve been saving for a rainy day because tattoo removal ain’t cheap.
In fact, the cost hurts some people more than the treatment does. Of course, it is all worthwhile in the long run. However, there have been a few people that have taken one look at the treatment prices and decided their awful tattoo isn’t so awful after all.
A tattoo removal session can cost anywhere between 200 and 1200 dollars, with the current average being 400 dollars. That’s around 2-4 thousand dollars in tattoo removal for an average 10 session treatment. If you have that kind of money lying around, excellent. If you don’t, the good news is that you can stagger the treatments throughout the year. This gives you time in between each treatment to save up the cheese.
As we said, these are state of the art lasers, so this is a high class fleecing. You know how those doctors role…they like to get paid.
Be warned, anyone in this game who is offering you a bargain is seriously questionable. Industry rates are set for a reason and people who fall below those rates might not be able to offer you the standard of treatment you require. This is your skin you are dealing with!
4. Is Tattoo Removal the Same for Everyone?
That would just be too simple now wouldn’t it?
How it was done, where you get it removed, and where it is on your body…all these things will matter when you come to get your tattoo removed.
The further a tattoo is away from the heart the longer it takes to fade. This is because blood circulation plays a big part in the process of tattoo removal.
Areas of the body with increased blood circulation respond better to the skin damage caused by the lasers. For example, an ankle tattoo is going to be one of the most difficult and time-consuming tattoos to remove because it is so far from the heart.
In terms of style, an amateur tattoo is usually easier to remove than a professional tattoo due to the application method. The even and well-penetrated distribution of ink that a professional tattoo artist provides is harder to remove than the shaky shallow ink work found with most amateur tattoo’s.
Tattoo color will also play a factor removal time. If you went for an ultra-vibrant tattoo that’s heavy on color, you can expect to have to put it through a few spins before that color is gone for good. Counter-intuitively, black ink is a lot easier to remove than colored ink because the lasers hit black ink more directly.
Older tattoos are easier to remove than newer ones because they have begun to fade naturally and the removal process has already begun. However, this is usually slower on people with darker skin pigments.
5. Are There Any Side Effects?
let’s just say that tattoo removal isn’t the smoothest process known to man.
As many different types of skin pigmentation as there are out there – well that’s how many alternative reactions there are to tattoo removal treatment. The most common side effect is a darkening or lightening of the skin, known as either hyperpigmentation or hypo-pigmentation.
You don’t have to worry too much about this as it does correct itself after the treatment. However, that’s around a year with funny looking skin which can be socially uncomfortable for some people.
Scars, infections, burns, and textural changes of the skin are all potential risks that come along with laser tattoo removal. It is worth repeating…tattoo removal involves serious lasers burning precious little skin pigments. Sometimes the skin reacts badly to this kind of offense.
What we recommend from the outset is that you seek out treatment with a board-certified dermatologist or physician. On the other hand, you could also be advised against tattoo removal altogether. Just like getting a tattoo in the first place, getting one removed is something you should give some serious thought to. It’s an expensive, time-consuming, and risky procedure that requires your full commitment.
That being said, now that you are aware of the issues involved with tattoo removal, you are in a good place to make your decision. If you have a tattoo that is ruining your life and affecting your self-esteem, this is a great option for you.