In this post, 5 Tips to Reduce Tattoo Removal Pain When It Hurts Really Bad, John is having a tattoo removed on his back. The pain is hurting him so much that he wrote to us asking if we could provide him tips to reduce the pain.

quote-startI was hoping this site would offer some helpful advice for dealing with the very real pain of my tattoo removal… I have a fairly large, all black, tattoo on my back that will take approximately 12 sessions to remove. I had my first session last week and the pain was so bad that i was shaking, sweating profusely, and getting light headed. That was after getting injected full of lidocaine. I guess i’ll just have to endure.quote-end


1. Icing

Ice packs can be used prior to laser treatment as well as during treatment to reduce the discomfort of tattoo removal.

The nurse will put an ice pack on your tattoo for 20 minutes prior your laser session. This ensures the nerve endings in the skin do not feel the heat of the laser (which causes the actual pain).  Ice packs are also used while the laser technician is removing the tattoo.

The laser technition will make a few pulses of the laser then place the ice pack back on the tattoo for another minute, then continuing the laser pulses with the ice pack off. Using an icepack during treatment maintains the low temperature of the skin that was started by the inicial icing session.

Using ice packs are a surprisingly effective way to significantly decrease laser tattoo removal pain.

2. Forced air-cooling device

This device is like an air conditioning unit for a specific area of the skin. The device is used in tandem with the laser essentially blowing cold air on the same spot as the laser. Blowing cold air onto the skin it decreases the heat that is generated by the laser, resulting on less discomfort.

3. Use a Different Laser Wavelength

Lasers for tattoo removal have various wavelengths. These wavelengths target specific colors within a tattoo. The color black absorbs most wavelengths as a result is the easiest color to remove.

tattoo removal pain

Most laser technicians will use the Nd:YAG 1064 nm to remove black tattoos. This wavelength penetrates the skin the deepest but also leaves the least amount of collateral damage (such has blistering).

If you are having a lot of pain with the 1064 nm wavelength consider talking to to the laser technician to see if  the Alexandrite or Ruby could be better options. They may/may not hurt less, but it’s worth a discussion. Also, if the laser technician is not using the 1064 nm, request that they use it.

4. PicoSure Laser

The lasers and wavelengths mentioned above are q-switched nano-second lasers. The newest innovation in laser tattoo removal is a pico second laser, the only one available for cosmetic use is the PicoSure laser for tattoo removal.

Related: Why the PicoSure laser is the best laser for tattoo removal.

One of the many benefits to this new laser is that it produces less heat, therefore people will have significantly less discomfort when undergoing tattoo removal treatments. PicoSure a new laser that is not widely available yet, but if there is one in your area (which we can help you find) then you will definitely feel better during the removal.

5. Find a New Laser Technician

At this point you’ve come to a few forks in the road. Your tattoo removal is very painful and it just hurts. Your options are to

  • Persevere through and work through the discomfort every 4-8 weeks
  • Find a new laser technician to remove your tattoo.

Related: Who does tattoo removal?

Just like any profession, there are good and bad people that do their job. Keep in mind, everyone’s body reacts differently to laser tattoo removal. The technician you currently have may be doing everything by the book; however, what may hurt for me may not be painful for you.

When looking for a new laser technician  make sure your technician is a Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer “CMLSO” and is properly trained in the lasers they use. Consider going to a board certified dermatologist. Keep in mind Dermatologists may have less experience with medical lasers as they do not use them as frequently as a certified laser technician.

Also, consider combining these tips for a greater chance in reducing tattoo removal pain.

Right ArrowAbout DermBids: We provide free laser tattoo removal estimates from local doctors and medical spas, just by taking a picture. We compare doctors based on experience, laser quality, distance and costs so you can make an educated buying decision when you decide to make an appointment!

Try us out! Visit our laser tattoo removal quote page.


photo credit: timsamoff via photopin cc

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