Congratulations! The fact that you are wondering how painful laser tattoo removal is means that you are well on your way to deciding to get rid of your tattoo. If pain is the only obstacle left for you to worry about, relax. It’s not that bad. We’ll give you more detailed information below, but in general, if you were able to stand the pain of getting your tattoo, you will be absolutely fine with the pain of having it removed. It doesn’t hurt as much.

What does it feel like?

Laser tattoo removal feels different for different people. However, these are the comparisons made most often:

  • It feels like having a rubber band snapped on your skin.
  • It feels like a bad sunburn.

What factors can affect the level of pain sensitivity?

Not everyone has the same sensitivity to pain. Your pain tolerance can depend on these factors:

  1. Genetics: A University of Connecticut research study found that up to 60% of pain sensitivity is due to genetics. If you are incredibly sensitive to pain, you probably know this about yourself already.
  2. If you suffer from a chronic illness: Your body can be more sensitive to pain if it has changed due to a long-term injury or disease.
  3. Age: In general, adults over the age of 65 are more sensitive to pain. This has to do with the activation of the immune system and higher levels of inflammation. 
  4. If you suffer from depression or panic disorder: According to the USASP (United States Association for the Study of Pain), “patients with major depressive disorder showed greater pain sensitivity.”
  5. Sex: According to several studies, women are more sensitive to pain than men because they have more nerve receptors.
  6. The level of stress you are under: People who are under stress can feel pain more acutely. (If the cause of your stress is the fear of tattoo removal pain, please talk to us. We can set your fears to rest!)
  7. The location of your tattoo: Fleshier areas of the body, places with fat and muscle, tend to be less sensitive than bony areas, or parts with little fat. 

Less painful:

  • Thighs
  • Parts of the back
  • Calves
  • Biceps and upper arms
  • Shoulders

More painful:

  • Ankles and feet
  • Fingers 
  • Joints
  • Ribs
  • Spine
  • Head
  • Armpits
  1. Your expectations: If you expect to feel pain and worry about it, you are more likely to be aware of it than if you attend your appointment feeling positive. Listen to some happy music on the way to our office, and visualize how great you will look without that unwanted tattoo!
  2. Your experience: Your pain threshold will increase with each session, possibly because you will know what to expect after your first visit so you won’t be tense. 

What can I do to cope with the discomfort?

It really isn’t that bad! Remember? Most people compare it to a bad sunburn. You won’t need to ask for a bullet to bite on. However, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

  1. Ask questions at your consultation and first session. Tell us if you are feeling any nervousness. We are very open and appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and alleviate your anxiety.
  2. Do whatever makes you feel calm before your session. Do you usually take some calming breaths? Do that. Do you sit in the car and rock out to Guns and Roses? Do that. You know yourself better than anyone. 
  3. After your tattoo removal sessions, apply cold compresses or ice packs. You can keep this up for the first 24 hours.
  4. Feel free to take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you feel discomfort. Tylenol and ibuprofen both work well for this. 
  5. Follow after-treatment instructions, such as staying hydrated and well-rested. You can read about these in detail in our blog: I’m Post Laser Tattoo Removal. What Should I Be Doing Now?

Yes, laser tattoo removal hurts, but only for a few seconds. For a tattoo 5 square inches in size, the whole appointment may take ten minutes, but the actual treatment only lasts about 30 seconds. We think you’ll agree – it’s totally worth it. 

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


When you’re ready to look into laser tattoo removal, it’s important to find a professional and expert technician you trust. Before you commit to anything, you can come in for a free consultation here at Ink-B-Gone, the leading laser tattoo removers in Colorado. We are conveniently located in Denver, but many clients visit us from out of state.


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