The Tattoo Removal Process

Individuals seeking tattoo removal may begin their quest for ink-free skin by consulting with a tattoo removal specialist. Some tattoo removal clinics may offer free consultations to prospective patients to discuss what treatment options may work best, while others may apply the cost of the consultation toward the overall cost of the procedure.

Every tattoo is different, and the size, shape and age of a tattoo can influence which tattoo removal method is utilized. Laser tattoo removal is one of the more commonly used tattoo removal options available, and has become the "gold standard" when compared to dermabrasion, chemical peels, creams and other treatment options due to its effectiveness. Consulting with a specialist and discussing various treatment options will ensure the right treatment method is chosen to suit your needs and accomplish your tattoo removal goals.

Consulting with a tattoo removal specialist

During consultation, a tattoo removal specialist will discuss treatment options, taking into account the size, complexity, depth, location, and nature of the tattoo. Skin type and skin conditions may also influence which treatment option is chosen.

Using this information, an estimate of the total cost for tattoo removal and the number of necessary treatments may be provided. Each patient's results will vary, and realistic expectations are recommended. Certain tattoos are more challenging to remove than others, and there are a number of other variables that may affect how the body responds to tattoo removal. Discussing these matters with an experienced tattoo removal specialist can allow for a greater understanding of the treatment process and its effects.

What to expect before and during your procedure

Depending on the procedure, some physicians recommend a non-aspirin pain medication--taken prior to treatment--that does not act as a blood thinner, such as Tylenol (aspirin and ibuprofen can cause bruising). Discomfort levels between treatment methods will vary. Laser tattoo removal, for example, has been compared to a rubber band snap on the skin and dermabrasion may feel like rubbing sandpaper on the skin.

Each patient's discomfort tolerance levels will differ, and treatments should be avoided when the skin has an increased level of sensitivity (which can be associated with sun damage, hormone fluctuations, or other skin conditions). Anesthesia is available at many clinics, if desired.

Repeat treatments spread out by a few weeks or months are typically best since the body's removal of the ink is broken down and takes time. Understanding the process is important so that treatments are done at optimal intervals for satisfactory results.

Here is a video of how laser tattoo removal works:

After tattoo removal treatment

There are a number of potential side effects associated with tattoo removal procedures, including scarring, redness, swelling and pigmentation problems.

After treatment, the physician will have specific instructions for how to care for the treated area. Failure to adhere to follow-up care instructions may lead to adverse effects. Immediately after the procedure, the treated area may feel sunburned, and it is important to keep the area covered until it heals. Specific directions for the proper care of the area to ensure a safe and quick recovery should be closely followed.

Recovery time is generally minimal, but will vary for each patient. The skin will be sensitive after treatment for a couple of weeks and should be cared for to allow the skin to heal without interference.

As it specifically relates to laser tattoo removal, following treatment, the body begins to repair any damaged skin and further breaks down and removes tattoo ink from the treated area. The laser thus disrupts the tattoo pigment so that the body's own immune system can begin to break the pigment down and carry it away. This leads to a lighter and less visible tattoo over time.

To learn more about tattoo removal methods, schedule a consultation with a tattoo removal specialist in your area.

Have specific questions?

All Treatment Guides

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions