Is there an effective and painless tattoo removal?

Tags:woman age 35-44 unwanted tattoo pain painless tattoo

I've made the mistake of getting matching tattoos with my ex husband and now I would like to remove it but I do not want to suffer the pain I did when I got it. I've heard that most of the removal procedures are painful. Is there a procedure for tattoo removal that is painless or at least something that one could take to really numb the region targeted?

Luvanne

F, 37, Kansas

The preferred method for tattoo removal is laser treatment.

Exactly how much pain will be involved depends largely on the tattoo itself. Some tattoos can be extremely difficult to remove, while others come off relatively quickly and easily.

Amateur tattoos that use less ink tend to be easier to remove than professional tattoos which typically use a heavy amount of ink. Tattoo designs using yellow and green pigments often don't respond to laser treatment as well as red and black inks. Likewise, older, faded tattoos tend to come off far faster than newer ones. Most of our patients say the tattoo removal experience is no more painful than their visit to the tattoo parlor.

The more difficult the tattoo is to remove, the more laser treatments will be required. I can't give you an estimate without an in-person consultation, but in most cases it takes us within five and eight treatments to completely remove a tattoo, with approximately six weeks between sessions.

For pain management we can inject a local anesthetic or numbing cream prior to the treatment to dull the skin's pain receptors. In between laser bursts we use a special chilling machine that blows cold air on the skin to soothe the area.

Some degree of pain during and after the procedure is unavoidable, but most patients say the pain of the removal was less intense than their original tattoo session.

The unavoidable fact us that laser tattoo removal involves some amount of pain.

Generally speaking though, laser treatments to remove a tattoo tend to be less painful than the initial tattooing process. Exactly how much pain you’ll experience during the laser treatment session depends on the size, location and characteristics of the tattoo -- as well as whether or not it's a new tattoo.

If your tattoo is in a very sensitive area, then unfortunately you're probably in for a mildly painful experience -- but likely a less painful one than the tattooing experience itself. Our patients have described the sensation as similar to being snapped by a rubber band.

It's not clear from your question how long ago you got your tattoo, but older tattoo work tends to be easier to remove than new tattoos. Tattoos located on the hands and feet are often slightly more difficult to remove due to the lower amount of blood flow in those areas.

It's also important to note that certain tattoo colors, such as green and yellow, can be very difficult to remove with laser treatment, even after multiple sessions.

After the treatment it's common to experience redness and blistering for a few days. The skin will likely feel sensitive, and will peel and flake around the affected area. Typically we assess the progress after one month, before planning the next session.

While our goal is to create as close to a painless tattoo removal as possible by using a topical anesthetic or lidocaine numbing cream, it's important that you set realistic expectations; there is no such thing as truly painless tattoo removal.