How To Reduce The Pain of Your Tattoo Removal

How To Reduce The Pain of Your Tattoo Removal

How To Reduce The Pain of Your Tattoo Removal

A regular concern for anyone who is about to get a tattoo removed is how much pain the treatment will cause them. For example, some have bad memories of the pain associated with getting a tattoo, others assume that tattoo removal will be more painful. 

In our experience, these valid concerns can be eased with some mental preparation. For instance, learning about the treatment and the different ways you can treat the pain will help you stay relaxed at the prospect of tattoo removal.

What Kind of Pain Can I Expect? 

The pain associated with the tattoo removal process is caused by the heat of the laser. For example, as the laser targets the ink particles they absorb the intense heat of the laser and burst into smaller fragments.  As a result, this process creates a burning sensation on the skin.

As is expected with something as subjective as pain, different patients have different responses to the process. Many patients say the pain of the procedure is equal to having a tattoo, on the other hand, some people say it hurts less and some say it is more painful. Depending on who you ask, and where their tattoo is, you will get the whole gamut of responses when asking about pain. The sensation for the majority of people is considered bearable – something like ripping off a band-aid.

So, the pain is not extreme, and it will quickly subside once the treatment is complete.

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Is There Something I Can Do to Ease the Pain?

Most tattoo removal clinics will offer a form of skin numbing applications to ease the discomfort of the laser. 

There are several good options available for this:

  •  Ice packs
  •  Numbing creams
  •  Injectable anesthetics
  •  Cold air machines.

Let’s take a closer look at these four methods:

Ice Packs 

One tried and tested method of numbing the skin is to apply ice to the area. This simple traditional method can work great for smaller clinics with familiar clients.

 It takes around 10 minutes for an ice pack to properly numb the skin. However, ice packs can only numb the skin before and after the treatment, not during. There is also a perceived “cheapness” to the ice pack method. If you are paying a high rate for tattoo removal you should be offered a few different numbing options. However, just because it is cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t a good method.

In conclusion, this is a workable method that can prove very convenient should you use it. Every removal clinic should have ice packs should you want to try it.   



Not great for clinics with a lot of patients

Only numbs before and after the procedure

Considered “cheap” or “amateur”

Numbing Creams 

There are numerous topical creams available for skin numbing. 

Often these creams include the same active ingredients such as benzocaine, lidocaine, prilocaine, or tetracaine. You have the option to choose between low-strength, over-the-counter creams, and the stronger prescription-only formulations.

Topical creams need to be applied approximately 45 minutes prior to the treatment which means patients either need to arrive early at the removal clinic or have the cream at home and apply it before they arrive. 

A clinic may include the numbing cream option as part of the treatment or they may charge extra. 

Can work in conjunction with other methods

Easy to apply
Must Be Applied in Advance

Moderate Efficacy

Lidocaine Injections

A stronger local anesthetic solution involves an injection of lidocaine.

This method is a very common numbing choice for plastic surgery practices and has since been adopted by tattoo removal surgeons looking to create more options for their patients. However, a lidocaine injection can only be administered by a medical professional so it can prove too long-winded for some clinics. 

Many clinics will segment the injection process from the fee of the tattoo removal meaning patients are asked to pay extra (usually around $25/treatment). 



Takes Time to Provide

Only Performed by Licensed Professionals

Some Patients Fear Needles

Time-Consuming for Clinics

Cold Air Machines 

Cold Air Machines are fast becoming the method of choice for skin numbing in the high volume tattoo removal clinics around the US. This is simply because they provide the fastest and most convenient method for numbing for the skin. 

During your tattoo removal, the cold air machine emits freezing cold air ( – 30°C) through a hose which is then directed around the area of the tattoo. This cooling can be done throughout the process which is preferable to ice packs for example which can only be done prior to treatment.



Numbs During Procedure

Excellent for High Volume Clinics
Equipment Purchase can be expensive


Any clinic looking to deliver comfort and satisfaction to their patients’ will need to offer a good variety of pain relief options during the tattoo removal procedure. 

While many clients will be fine to proceed without any numbing at all, those with sensitive skin will require something to help with the pain.   

Of the four major options available, you will have to see which suits your studio the best, but it is not too outlandish to suggest that you employ all four options. 

If you are not certified to administer the lidocaine injections, you should definitely consider the other three options when you have space and funds to implement them. 

Have any stories, tips, or advice to tell about your own tattoo removal journey? Please leave your comments below.

Written by
Peter Smith
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Peter Smith

Peter Smith is a professional writer who has been writing about the tattoo removal industry for the past five years. He also writes on vehicle safety, budget travel, and cultural issues. He lives with his family on the West Coast of America.

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