It is completely normal to want to know every sensation you will experience when having laser tattoo removal treatments. So if you are worried about pain, please don’t be. We know that’s easier said than done – just don’t worry! However, we have two excellent reasons for you to stop stressing (three reasons if you include “Frankie says Relax!”).

Reason One: Tension causes more pain

In other words, don’t tense up! If you tense up, you are more likely to feel pain than if you are relaxed. Of course, this is the case for almost anything you go through in life, but you may recall the same advice being given to you when you were initially tattooed. Simply put, if you expect a little pain and approach it positively, you will be far less aware of it than if you fixate on it and psych yourself out ahead of time. 

All people perceive pain differently, and some factors that differentiate pain tolerance and sensitivity are not within our control, such as genetics. However, other factors are within our control, such as:

  • Mood: The NIH (National Institutes of Health) experimented on patients with chronic back pain and concluded negative mood increased “self-reported pain and decreased tolerance for a pain-relevant task, with positive mood having the opposite effect.” 
  • Exercise: It has been proven that exercise reduces pain perception. Additionally, exercise improves mood and reduces stress levels. If that doesn’t get you skipping around the block, we don’t know what will! 
  • Lifestyle choices: Unfortunately, smokers seem to feel pain more acutely than nonsmokers. Even though only 18% of the population of the U.S. smokes, more than 50% of patients who seek relief for pain treatment are smokers. 

And, just a side note: smoking can slow the healing process after laser tattoo removal because it interferes with the immune system. It also increases the risk of infection.

Reason Two: Pain is relative

In the grand scheme of things, laser tattoo removal isn’t that painful. Perhaps that should have been our first reason. Laser tattoo removal is definitely not pain-free. However, it is less painful than getting a tattoo, and you did that just fine!

What does it feel like? 

  • Many people describe it as the sensation of being hit or snapped repeatedly by a rubber band. Annoying, yes – unpleasant, absolutely – but unbearable? – no way! Other people describe the sensation as being like the sting of a sunburn. 
  • Remember that (unlike a sunburn), the treatment only lasts for about 30 seconds, which means that the pain only lasts for a few seconds. 
  • You will likely feel more pain having a tattoo removed from places on your body with more bone and less fatty tissue. If you have ever had any kind of hair removal waxing treatment, you can stop worrying about laser tattoo removal. Waxing is far more painful (and lasts much longer)!
  • Know that the first session is the most painful and that each successive session hurts less and less.

Other than relaxing and having a positive mindset, is there anything else that can be done to lessen the pain? 

Yes, absolutely. 

  • Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment and eat a nutritious breakfast.
  • You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol before your session.
  • You can ask our technicians about numbing options. We provide topical numbing cream for our clients, and we also give you an ice pack after your treatment. 
  • You can do some deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing can lower stress and anxiety and can reduce pain levels.
  • One final piece of advice: a Stanford University School of Medicine study found that “intense, passionate feelings of love” can act as an incredibly effective painkiller. This goes beyond simply enhancing mood or providing a distraction. New and intense feelings of love activate neural pathways leading to the brain’s reward center and produce dopamine, a neural transmitter. In other words, if you fall in love right before you start treatment, you probably won’t feel a thing! 

Every person and every tattoo is different, so ask our experts!

We will be thoroughly transparent about the tattoo removal process and will alleviate your stress so that you can relax. When you’re ready to look into laser tattoo removal, it’s important to find a professional and expert technician you trust. Before committing to anything, you can come for a free consultation here at Ink-B-Gone, the leading laser tattoo removers in Colorado. We are conveniently located in Denver, but many of our clients visit us from out of state.


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