Here at Ink-B-Gone, we like to be straight-up and honest with our clients, and to be honest, tattoo removal isn’t a walk in the park. While you may be feeling more prepared to get a tattoo removed if you have read our previous post about how much pain you can expect during tattoo removal, it is natural to feel some level of apprehension going into this procedure. However, the reality is that each tattoo removal is different, and the pain you experience will depend on a variety of factors including the location of your tattoo and your individual pain tolerance. 

Fortunately, the good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do to keep your discomfort at a minimum when getting your tattoo removed. In fact, even taking the time to research the tattoo removal experience can make the process more bearable, as pain is often worse when you aren’t expecting it. By taking the proper precautions, and by working with a professional laser technician who can prepare you for your tattoo removal, you can keep the pain of tattoo removal to a minimum. 

But First, Why Does Tattoo Removal Hurt?

Before we look at tips for how you can reduce the discomfort of tattoo removal, we’ll first cover a little bit of background about how tattoo removal works, and why it can be painful. Laser tattoo removal uses pulses of a high-intensity laser to penetrate the upper layer of skin – or epidermis– to break up the tattoo particles into smaller pieces. These particles are then absorbed into the body and metabolized. This process isn’t easy, but it basically works like magic as it undoes something that is supposed to be permanent. 

 While laser tattoo removal may sound intimidating, the only other options are dermabrasion, which involves slowly scraping off layers of your skin one at a time, or surgery to remove the inked section of skin. Compared to these options, laser tattoo removal is actually the easiest, least painful way to go. Plus, with the right preparation, you can keep discomfort to a minimum during laser tattoo removal. To arm yourself before your first appointment, here is a look at five easy tips that can make laser tattoo removal less painful. 

1. Up Your Health Game Before Your Tattoo Removal

Taking care of your health will help not only make your sessions less painful, but it will also reduce the risk of potential complications resulting from treatment. In the week leading up to your first treatment, as well as during the entire treatment period, try to take care of your health by:

  • Cutting Back Smoking and Drinking: Smoking and drinking can slow your body’s healing processes, drastically increasing the risk of complications that could lead to scarring or infection. Save the party for when your tattoo is completely removed and reduce your tobacco and alcohol consumption for the time being to make the removal process easier.
  • Eating and Hydrating Before Each Appointment: While tattoo removal can cause discomfort, if you come to a session dehydrated or hungry this can increase feelings of light-headedness, discomfort, and yes, it can even increase the amount of pain you feel. Making sure that you show up hydrated and with a full stomach can help you feel more relaxed, reducing the amount of pain you feel.  

Overall, taking care of your health during your treatment period will help reduce your discomfort during sessions. The fact is that the better you feel, the less pain you will perceive during treatments. 

2. Stay Calm

One of the biggest things that you can do to reduce your perceived pain during laser tattoo removal treatments is to try to come to your appointments as calm and relaxed as possible. While this may be easier said than done, as many people find this type of procedure to be nerve-wracking, anxiety can actually trick your brain into believing you are experiencing more pain than you actually are. The more anxious you are, the more pain you will perceive during treatments. For this reason, we recommend that our clients try various relaxation methods leading up to their appointments such as:

  • Breathing Exercises
  • Drinking Tea
  • Listening to Relaxing Music
  • Watching a Funny Movie
  • Or Even Journaling About Their Nerves 

Staying calm and conquering your fears can be instrumental in keeping you relaxed and comfortable throughout your treatments. 

3. Use Tylenol and Numbing Creams

Another great way to reduce pain is to take an over-the-counter painkiller about 20-30 minutes before your session. Look for the active ingredient Acetaminophen (Tylenol), as it is imperative that you avoid other painkillers like Aspirin or Ibuprofen (Advil). These painkillers can thin your blood, leading to bruising after treatment. 

If you are particularly nervous about the pain, or you know that you have low pain tolerance, you may want to consider asking your laser technician about numbing creams, as this may be a good option for you. Our clinic can apply a pharmacy-grade numbing cream a few hours prior to your session, which many people claim reduces their pain. The truth is that these creams only work on the top layer of your skin and may not help much with deeper tissue pain caused by the ink being broken up below the skin. However, possibly due to a placebo effect, many people swear by these numbing creams and claim that they can significantly reduce the pain they feel.     

4. Ice, Ice Baby

While this may seem like an old-fashioned method, applying ice packs to the treatment area before and after each session can go a long way in reducing pain. Many people compare the pain of laser tattoo removal to that of a bad sunburn or being hit by a snapped rubber band, and ice can provide some nice relief from that burning/stinging feeling. Pressing an ice pack to the skin for 5-10 minutes before the procedure can help numb the area for treatment, and doing the same afterward can provide relief from any lingering irritation.  

5. Schedule a Consultation and Find Someone You Can Trust

Of course, one of the best ways to manage pain is to make sure that you find a clinician that makes you feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident in their capabilities. As we previously mentioned, anxiety can enhance perceived pain, so it is critical that you find a technician that you trust and feel relaxed around. Before making a decision on where to have your tattoo removed, schedule consultations with different clinics so that you can get a feel for who may be a good fit. Make sure to find someone who answers all of your questions, explains the procedure thoroughly, and goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable and at ease with the treatment process.

Taking the time to do research, familiarize yourself with the tattoo removal process, and find a clinic you feel comfortable with can go a long way toward helping you feel relaxed and comfortable during your treatments. As you begin researching clinics in your area, make sure that they offer no-cost consultations, as this will allow you to find someone you feel comfortable working with.  

At Ink-B-Gone here in Colorado, we believe wholeheartedly in the importance of the consultation process. Whenever you’re ready to start the tattoo removal journey, feel free to hit us up for a consultation or to simply ask any questions you may have about the process of getting a tattoo removed. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more tips as well as to learn more about laser tattoo removal.