remove a tattoo

Can you completely remove a tattoo?

Do you have a tattoo that you now regret? You might be one of the growing number of people asking; How can you completely remove a tattoo?   I’ve removed a lot of tattoos, in almost every area of the body!  From names of ex husband and wives, and poetry gone wrong, to butterflies, Mickey Mouse, British Bull Dogs, devils from drunken stag nights and everything in-between.

It’s a question I hear a lot at my skin and laser clinic, so I thought I’d create this tattoo removal article to help.  Here are the top 5 questions I get asked all the time about tattoo removal:

Remove a tattoo

1. Can you completely remove a tattoo?

The short answer is yes you can! The most common and effective method of getting rid of your tattoo is with Laser treatment.  The best Lasers for the job are super powerful Q-Switched Lasers.  Laser is  considered to be a much better way to remove a tattoo, compared with alternative methods like skin grafting or tattoo removal creams.

Some tattoos will go completely, while others will be extremely faded. Any ink left remaining will be so insignificant that you won’t be able to really tell what the tattoo was.  It can sometimes look like a mild bruise.  Why do some go completely and others don’t?  If the tattoo artist has gone too deep, this makes it hard to get rid of.  Also it’s your body which actually flushes out the ink (see number 4). So if you are not 100% fit and well, this can affect the removal.

remove a tattoo

2. How painful is tattoo removal?

Ouch… it hurts quite a bit, but don’t opt out just yet!  Let me give your some hope.  You’ve already put yourself through the pain of getting the ink done in the first place, so I can tell you you’ll be able to take the laser treatment to remove a tattoo.  What does it feel like I hear you ask?  Well if you’ve fried an egg, and felt the hot oil ‘spit’ at you, then that’s getting close.  Or like someone constantly twanging you with a hot elastic band.

The good news is you can reduce the pain a couple of ways.  A good numbing cream will take out the sting.  Just apply the cream about one hour before and cover with cling film, then your laser technician will wipe it off before the treatment starts.  Or if you choose a good laser clinic that uses a Cooling system, they will numb the area with freezing air while the treatment is taking place.  This helps a lot.

3. How much does it cost?

The answer to this varies greatly.  A small tattoo will cost around £40-£50 per session, whereas a large tattoo or sleeve can cost £100-£200 + per session depending on how large it is.  You then need to multiply this by the total number of treatments you’ll need.  So in the long run, getting rid of that tattoo is going to cost a lot more than getting it done in the first place.

On the positive, the sessions are spaced apart, approximately every 6-8 weeks so you don’t have to pay it all out at once.  You can even leave much bigger gaps between treatments.  I often encourage clients to leave it 3-4 months, then they can save up and they will also end up needing fewer treatments.

4. How does Laser tattoo removal work?

The high powered laser is flashed over your whole tattoo at every session. The laser shatters the ink in the tattoo, so that tiny particles come away.  If you watch a treatment being carried out – you will see a whitening effect, also called frosting.  This looks impressive but is just the reaction of the laser hitting the ink, and only lasts around 15 minutes. It’s a good sign as it means the laser is doing its job.

What happens next is the most important part.  Your body sends white blood cells to the tattoo and your body’s clever little cells, go and mop up the tiny particles of ink which have been broken off. Once the ink has been mopped up, it comes out in your urine!  You then go back for your next Laser tattoo removal session and the process is repeated.  You keep going until you get rid of your tattoo, or until you are happy with the fading.  (Some clients want a tattoo faded so they can have more tattoo work)

5. How many sessions does it take to remove a tattoo?

This is one of the questions I get asked the most.  It’s the most difficult to answer!  But here goes. An amateur tattoo (so a D-I-Y tattoo) can sometimes go in as little as 2 sessions, but may take up to 5.  A professional tattoo will take anything from 5 sessions upwards, although the average is around 10 sessions.

One of the things to consider is where the tattoo is located on your body.  That actually has a big impact on the time taken and number of sessions to get rid of it.  The further away from the heart – so on your foot or your fingers, the longer it normally takes to remove.

Your health and lifestyle also plays a factor. If you smoke, your immune system is already having to work hard at removing toxic chemicals, so it won’t remove your tattoo as quickly as a non-smoker.  Also if you are poorly, your body is having to work hard and getting you better, so removing your tattoo will also take longer.

I hope this helps if you’re thinking of getting rid of your tattoo.  

If you have more questions about tattoo removal feel free to email me at rach@radiantliving.co.uk.  Or you can come and see me for a free consultation at Radiant Living.