Here’s What You Should Know About Laser Tattoo Removal

Above: Basically, it's painful, expensive and time-consuming--but worth it.
Here's What You Should Know About Laser Tattoo Removal

Getting a tattoo is one of those things you’re totally sure about at the time. Whether you thought about exactly what you wanted or your were impulsive, there was no way anyone was going to talk you out of it. But now, looking back, you wish someone had. It’s hard to admit that your parents were right when they told you not to get a tattoo, but it turns out they were. Or least they were right about one tattoo in particular—the one you now can’t stop thinking about having removed.

Luckily, laser tattoo removal is pretty common—and effective—these days. Tattoos might have been forever that day when you wandered into the shop when you were 20 and feeling adventurous, but they aren’t anymore. That’s a relief, right? Not so fast.

First of all, laser tattoo removal is not cheap. Depending on the size, placement, and colours of yours, you’re probably looking at $1000 to get rid of the thing and that’s at a minimum. Most likely, that’s a lot less than you spent to get it in the first place. On the bright side, you’ll be able to pay per session instead of a lump sum, so you should be able to budget for it.

If you’re in the market for laser tattoo removal, you’ve probably seen a Groupon or two that will give you a certain number of sessions for a lower price. This might sound like a great deal, but be careful. Some medispas will give you the discount for the first few sessions only to charge you more later. They might also use a lower intensity laser so you end up needing more sessions to fully get rid of the tattoo. Do yourself a favour and read reviews—if there are a lot of people saying they feel like they’re being ripped off, go somewhere else. Look for a technician who used to be a tattoo artist or otherwise worked in the industry.

Every tattoo is different, but it’s possible that it could take up to two years and ten or more sessions for your ink to fully disappear—and that’s not a guarantee. Black ink tends to fade the easiest, and your health plays a part in how quickly your system disperses the ink. The placement of your tattoo can also affect overall results. Arm and leg tattoos can be harder to remove than ones that are on the torso. Also, the older the tattoo, the easier it will be to get rid of in less time.

So, now the real question: how much does it hurt? Again, it’s pretty subjective, but most people report that the laser is painful, but not unbearably so. Some say it feels like being splattered with hot grease, or the stinging sensation of being snapped with an elastic band. If you have a small tattoo, you’ll probably only have to tough it out for five or ten minutes. You’ll have to go back again for multiple more sessions, but at least the pain is spread out.

To get the best results, you’ll have to keep your tattoo clean while it heals. Some people experience blistering and swelling for a couple days and then the area scabs over. During healing, you’ll have to apply Polysporin and then keep it moisturized and away from the sun. If you follow the aftercare directions from your technician, it should be fully healed in no longer than two weeks. Six weeks later after your first treatment, you can go in for your next session.

Laser tattoo removal is a long process, but for most people, the pain, cost and time commitment are all well worth it. The only thing better would be going back in time and never getting the tattoo in the first place—but for now, laser tattoo removal will have to do.

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Tags: laser tattoo removal, tattoo removal, tattoos

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