Laser tattoo removal is an aesthetic procedure that is rather simple, yet with some side effects. While some are very common and manageable, some other are rarer and more serious. The treatment will take a few sessions before the tattoo successfully fades away and the skin is back to its original state. The procedure itself remains a mystery for many. Even though more and more people are looking to remove their tattoo for many reasons, laser tattoo removal may be scary. However, one very important question that many ask remains. Is laser tattoo removal painful?
Is laser tattoo removal painful?
Jumping right into the subject, are we? Yes, laser tattoo removal is painful. Some people might say it is even more painful than getting a tattoo. However, skin sensitivity is different for everyone. And so are the size and colors of the tattoo. Therefore, each experience will differ with each person. It is thus important to not generalize and let people think that laser tattoo removal is painful while there are ways to make it more bearable. Furthermore, should you wish to remove your tattoo, you will have no choice but to deal with the pain. Let's dive together into what to expect when undergoing laser tattoo removal.
1. How does laser tattoo removal work?
In order to understand why laser tattoo removal may be painful, it is crucial to understand how it works in the first place and what the procedure entails. During tattoo application, the ink is inserted deep into the skin by the needles. The immune system will then think of it as an intruder. Similar to any other injury to the skin, white blood cells will spring into action to protect the body.
Although it will be a very slow process, the white blood cells will attempt to break down the ink. They will also carry small parts of it to the liver, where the ink will be processed and discharged. The ink particles, however, are too large for the small cells to handle. Therefore, they can’t remove it in its entirety. This is what makes tattoos permanent. The only way to actually remove a tattoo is to use laser.
The laser used during the procedure is called Q-Switch. At Infinity Laser Spa, we use a laser tattoo removal machine from Vertex Lasers. The machine will send ultra short laser pulses, which will break the ink particles in the skin. They will make them smaller and easier for the white blood cell to handle and discard.
Q-Switch lasers are brought to a high temperature, essential to break up the ink. They work at an extremely fast speed, some as quickly as one trillionth of a second. This measurement is called “picoseconds.” The speed of the laser plays a significant role in how effective the removal process will be. Indeed, the instant zap of the laser has to be quick enough to heat part of the ink particle while leaving the other part cool. The ink particles will be forced apart thanks to the varying temperature changes.
2. Can all tattoos be removed?
Technically, yes, all tattoos can be removed with laser tattoo removal. However, not all tattoos are equal when it comes to removal. Which is also a reason why laser tattoo removal is painful for some people while it is not for others. Laser tattoo removal is a procedure that takes several rounds. Furthermore, some people won’t achieve the results they were hoping for, because the laser couldn’t fully break up the ink particles.
Some tattoos are easier to remove than other. For example, old tattoos tend to fade naturally since they have been subjected to constant assault from white blood cells for a long time. Fresh tattoos are harder to remove and technician usually advise to wait at least a year after tattoo application before proceeding to a removal. There are other factors that will affect the laser tattoo removal.
Black ink is the easiest to remove. Green and blue are fairly easy to remove too. However, the lighter the ink the more difficult it is to remove it. When it comes to skin tones, it is the other way round. The contract between skin and ink is very sharp on fair skin while very small on dark skin. Since the laser target pigments, the procedure will be faster on light skin. A patient's immune system will also play a big part on the effectiveness of the removal as well as where the tattoo is located.
3. How painful is laser tattoo removal?
Is tattoo laser removal painful? The answer will vary from one patient to another. The pain incurred during laser tattoo removal highly depends on personal pain tolerance levels. It can be quite painful has it uses very high temperature laser meant to brink ink particles under your skin. The laser will target a specific zone, heating it up. However, it is so quick that it will not harm the skin.
The energy from the laser forms a shockwave which sends vibrations through the skin. The vibrations will cause the skin to raise and become pale in color. This effect is normal and will only last a few seconds. Some areas of the body will be more sensitive since they will have more receptors cells. Receptor cells pick up signal and send them to the brain. The hands and feet have a lot of those cells. A tattoo on a more sensitive areas will make removal more painful.
4. How to make it less painful?
Local anesthetics such as creams and gels can reduce pain by up to 30-40%. However, do make sure that you don't have any allergies to the products applied on your skin. It would be a shame if the product meant to reduce the pain of laser tattoo removal was actually increasing it.
Let your technician know about any allergies you may have as well as your tolerance to pain. As mentioned earlier, each person is different and skin sensitivity will differ. Yet, that is something the technician will not be able to know unless you tell them. Knowing will allow them to provide a service that is more curated towards you and your needs.
5. What does laser tattoo removal feel like?
The most common pain comparison is that a rubber band is constantly snapping against the skin. There might also be a pain or burning sensation after the procedure. Thus, you should be cautious. Do not wear tight clothes, take hot showers, put pressure on the treated area, etc. If you are not sure about laser tattoo removal after-care, ask the technician. They will be able to advise you.
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