Does Laser Tattoo Removal Hurt?


One of the most common questions that we get asked on the daily here at NuBare Laser Clinic is “Does laser tattoo removal hurt?”.

In a nutshell, yes. It hurts, but it is bearable.

Laser Tattoo Removal does involve a certain level of pain but most patients say that it hurts less than what they expected it would. Everyone’s pain threshold is different and your experience will be different from someone else’s so it’s best not to compare. You too may be pleasantly surprised at how tolerable it is.

There is a misconception out there that laser tattoo removal is excruciating, but if you were able to sit through getting the tattoo put on, you can definitely sit through getting it removed. The removal process is extremely quick. A tattoo that took 1 hour to put on may only take about 5-10 minutes to remove. It’s super quick!

Most people liken the pain to a rubber band being flicked on your skin. From my tattoo removal experience, I would describe the sensation as being very similar to the feeling of hot bacon fat spitting out of the pan onto your skin.

Laser tattoo removal, the same as the application of the tattoo itself, is more painful in certain areas of your body than in other areas. Areas, where the skin is a bit thinner and closer to the bone, tend to be a little more tender than areas that have thicker skin and more fat or ‘meat’.

The density of the ink can also affect the pain level. Tattoos that are thicker with more concentrated ink can be more painful. The more ink, the more it will react to the laser energy and therefore the greater the shockwave from the photoacoustic effect which will result in slightly more pain.

How can you minimise the pain?

Here at NuBare, your comfort is our top priority. We will not rush you through a laser removal appointment. We will pace it according to your pain threshold and try and keep you as comfortable as possible through the entire process.

Before your laser treatment we will blow cold air (around -30oC) from our Koolio machine onto your skin to chill it down and numb it slightly. This not only reduces the pain but also reduces thermal injury and reduces swelling. We will continue to blow the air during the entire process and continue after we have finished assisting with pain control.

You can also take a Panadol 30-60 minutes before the procedure if you are concerned but please do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin or any other blood thinners.

Topical anaesthetic creams such as Emla can be purchased from any chemist or pharmacy. Please follow instructions carefully, or call us here at NuBare for instructions, to obtain the best effects of the cream. Apply 2 hours before and leave it on till you come to your appointment and we will remove it for you.

Eating a meal an hour before laser tattoo removal will help with the nerves and your blood sugar levels. Some patients get light-headed on an empty stomach. Try not to drink coffee within a few hours before your appointment as coffee is a stimulant and this will heighten your senses ie. and your pain.

Some side effects that may occur after your laser tattoo removal session are:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • Scars
  • Bruising
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation

In most cases all of these side effects are temporary. Redness, tenderness and swelling typically subside within a day or two following laser tattoo removal. Blisters sometimes appear within 24hrs of treatments and can sometimes look alarming but this is completely normal and they will subside. Do not pick, scratch or burst the blisters. They need to heal naturally. Bruising, blistering and scabs may take a week or longer to heal.

If you are extra worried about the pain associated with laser tattoo removal book in for one of our free consultations and we can discuss the process and even do a test patch on your tattoo so you can see for yourself there is nothing to worry about.



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