With so many tattoo removal creams and laser clinics on the market today, it can be hard to know which ones work and which ones don’t, as well as what mistakes you should avoid when going about getting your tattoo removed. To help you get started on the right foot and be able to walk confidently away from your tattoo removal appointment, we’ve outlined some of the most common things people get wrong about tattoo removal below.
Tattoo Removal Basics
Before we dig into what people get wrong about tattoo removals, let’s discuss the tattoo removal process. Tattoo removal also called dermabrasion and laser tattoo removal involves using a laser to break up pigment particles in your skin. The beam of light damages ink particles in your skin’s uppermost layer, breaking them down so your body can remove them as it heals and replaces lost tissue with new cells over time.
As with any laser procedure, there are risks involved with tattoo removal. The most common side effects include blistering, swelling, and ink migration—when color from your tattoo spreads to the surrounding skin. To help reduce your chances of developing complications following a treatment session, it’s important to follow your post-procedure instructions carefully.
Most people think that getting a tattoo removed will take only a few treatments and that laser removal is quick. However, it can take many treatments over several months or even years to remove a tattoo completely. Each treatment takes about 30 minutes to an hour, and sometimes your doctor may recommend multiple treatments per week for optimal results.
Many factors affect how long tattoo removal takes. For example, scarring from previous injuries could cause a slower healing process during laser therapy to prolong recovery. Additionally, some people heal quicker than others, and you can’t predict who will heal faster than another person.
It’s Extremely Painful
True, but not any more than getting a tattoo to begin with. The first week or so is painful, but it’s tolerable for most people after that. Though still uncomfortable, pain levels differ from person to person and can be managed effectively with over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. The bottom line is it’s not as bad as you think it’ll be! If you have tattoos in sensitive areas, make sure you find a provider who uses cooling technology or other numbing agents during treatment.
It Leaves You With Scars
Tattoo removal lasers remove tattoos by breaking up colors into smaller particles and evaporating them. Since your skin comprises layers of cells filled with water, these colors will simply be broken down by laser light and evaporated in a safe and non-invasive manner. When it comes to scars, lasers typically heal patients at a faster rate than other removal methods. Today’s more advanced technology used for tattoo removal means that scarring becomes less of an issue. However, as with any medical procedure, risks have to be considered during treatment.
All Tattoos Are Easy to Remove
Not necessarily! The number of sessions you’ll need varies by client, tattoo location, size, color, and type of ink. Your tattoo removal specialist will discuss this with you during your consultation. So don’t be surprised if they need to remove a large portion of your tattoo in more sessions than you thought—that’s just part of how it works.
Don’t worry, though; the number of sessions you need won’t affect your final result. How closely you follow your aftercare plan will matter, so make sure to get all instructions from your tattoo removal specialist and stick to them!
Anyone Can Do It
Although laser tattoo removal is relatively common and safe, there is still a risk of side effects like burning and discoloration. Before you commit to getting rid of a tattoo permanently, it’s best to ask about what laser removal entails. If you are an ideal candidate for tattoo removal and have dark tattoos that stand out from your skin tone, then it might be worth considering. Just don’t treat tattoo removal like a quick fix for regret!
If you choose to get a tattoo removal treatment, be sure to book an appointment with a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Don’t trust that your neighborhood tattoo parlor will be able to remove your ink safely and effectively. Though laser tattoo removal has been getting safer in recent years, it is still a medical procedure that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. It’s also important to note that there isn’t always an effective way to remove a tattoo.
No Pain Afterward
The point of getting a tattoo is to have it inked into your skin. Even if you get a tattoo removed, it’s still going to take some time for your body to naturally heal and move past what’s been placed there. Expect residual pain even after getting a tattoo removed. Just because you no longer see it on your skin doesn’t mean your body has completely moved past it yet.
It’s easy to get lulled into thinking that you won’t experience any pain after getting a tattoo removed. But don’t be surprised if you still feel some soreness, especially during your initial treatments. This is because each treatment takes time to complete fully. During those sessions, you may experience amounts of discomfort while your body heals and adapts to what was placed there previously.
I Don’t Need to do Anything After
It’s important to follow post-removal instructions. Your doctor should provide a series of aftercare instructions. While you won’t necessarily need to take care of your tattoo just like you would a fresh one, you will need to ensure that it’s free from dirt and oils, as those can cause additional irritation. If your skin gets dry, use approved lotions. Put on a thin layer of Aquaphor or another moisturizer with aloe if it gets red.