Want to get rid of that tattoo of your ex? Outgrown a tattoo you got when you were 16? If so, laser tattoo removal may be just what the doctor ordered!

Of course, if you’re considering tattoo removal you may be wondering: “Just how bad does laser tattoo removal hurt?” It’s a common enough question; after all, no one likes pain. (Well, most people don’t.) And even though you’ve already been through some ink pain when you first got your tattoo, you may not be in any rush to repeat the experience.

If this is a question that’s on your mind, we have some info that can help. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from laser tattoo removal:

First off: the pain varies from person to person

We all have that friend who’s tough as nails, smashes beer cans on their forehead, and could probably eat corn on the cob the same day as a root canal. They have such a high pain tolerance that they wouldn’t break a sweat during a laser tattoo removal. 

Well, good for them. And if you’re that kind of person – good for you! But if you have a lower pain tolerance, then you’re probably going to experience some discomfort during the process. It may not be super painful, but it may require you to grin and bear it. 

What we’ve found over years of experience is that folks sometimes psych themselves out before the first removal session, which adds a lot of unnecessary stress to the whole process. And if you’re stressed out, odds are you’re going to experience more pain than you would have if you’d been relaxed. So our advice to you is to take your chill pills before coming in!

The pain will be higher or lower depending on the tattoo’s location

This is just the same as getting ink in the first place: the amount of pain you’ll feel depends on where it’s located on the body. Some areas simply have more sensitive pain receptors than others. For example, you’re likely to feel more pain during a tattoo removal on the fingertips, forehead, ankles, and wrists than you would on the buttocks or thighs. 

Basically, any place on your body with more bone and less fatty tissue is going to be more sensitive to pain. If it stung putting the tattoo on, it’s probably going to sting taking it off. 

Other factors to consider

Pain tolerance and location aren’t the only variables in how much tattoo removal might hurt. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Linework style. If your tattoo is made up of thick, dark ink, then it will likely require more intense laser work to completely remove it – and that could mean more pain compared to the removal of thin lines. 
  • Age of the tattoo. Believe it or not, older tattoos actually require less laser work than more recent tats. That’s because your body gradually breaks down tattoo ink over time. The older your tattoo is, the more it’s been broken down (and the less intense the laser work needs to be).
  • Number of sessions. If you need to come in for multiple removal sessions, be prepared for the first one to be the most painful. The good news is, most clients say that the pain decreases with each succeeding session. 

Can you give me an analogy of what the pain might feel like?

Sure! Like we said earlier, the pain is going to vary from person to person. However, here are some common examples that people have compared to the pain of tattoo removal:

  • A bad sunburn that makes your skin ache, makes it tight, and makes it sensitive to the touch
  • Flicking a rubber band against your skin, hard
  • Splashing hot grease onto your hand

As you can tell, it’s not exactly a pleasant experience, but it’s not as bad as actually getting a tattoo in the first place. 

At the end of the day, the pain is mild for most folks

We’d be lying to you if we told you the tattoo removal process is 100% pain-free. After all, you are removing “permanent” ink from your skin. It’s gonna hurt a little!

However, all of our clients, without exception, can attest that the tattoo removal hurts less than getting the tattoo itself. So if you could handle getting inked, then you can definitely handle getting that ink removed. In a way, you’ve already done the most painful part!

When it’s all said and done, getting a tattoo removed may be well worth it to you. It’s probably better to deal with a few stings and get it over with than have to look at your ex’s name on your arm every time you step out of the shower.

These tips can help ease the pain

  • Before your sessions (especially your first session), take an over-the-counter painkiller like Tylenol. Stick to meds that contain acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen, since ibuprofen can thin your blood and contribute to bruising during the removal process. 
  • Use relaxation techniques like deep breathing to calm your body and mind. If you’re in a relaxed frame of mind, you won’t be as open to the sensations of fear and pain.
  • Ask about numbing options. For instance, at Ink-B-Gone we can provide topical numbing cream for our clients. A good, old-fashioned ice pack before your session can also do the trick.

Our best advice for a smooth process? Trust the pros

There’s no way to completely eliminate pain from the laser tattoo removal process. But if you want to reduce it as much as possible, work with an experienced, skillful laser clinic. They can prepare you for any pain that may be coming your way, help you to manage it, and keep you as comfortable as possible while dealing with it. In fact, it may be worth it to you to travel to a clinic that’s known for treating their clients right!

At Ink-B-Gone, many of our clients have flown in from out of state just to see us. They trust our expertise when it comes to tattoo removal, and our commitment to making the experience as pleasant and painless as possible. We’re a family-owned Colorado business that’s been in the industry for 15 years and counting, and we love meeting new people. Come chat with us to learn more!