What to Expect During a Laser Tattoo Removal Session

Time passes and things change. As the years went by, you may have decided that the tattoo you were initially so excited about is now something you no longer want on your body. This situation is common given the fact that many people choose to get their tattoo removed. However, if you’ve never been to a laser tattoo removal session before, you may not be sure what to expect. The board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta want you to feel confident and prepared when you go in for your first tattoo removal session. To help, we’ve compiled a few common things to expect when it comes to laser tattoo removal.

male-with-shoulder-tattooThe Basics of What to Expect

Assuming that you’ve already had a consultation, your first laser removal tattoo session will start with your provider giving you a protective pair of glasses to wear during the treatment. Then your provider will test your skin’s reaction to the laser and decide what the most effective energy and setting is for your situation. After that, the treatment will start and your provider will use the laser to pass pulses of light throughout your tattoo in order to break down tattoo pigments.

The length of your session depends on the size of your tattoo. For those with smaller tattoos, the session normally takes less than 15 minutes while those with larger tattoos can spend much longer than this to receive a treatment. We will review this with you prior to treatment.

Will It Be Uncomfortable?

Laser tattoo removal is typically displayed as being painful. However, pain is subjective and the level of pain that patients feel differs from person to person. The location of your tattoo plays a large role in how much discomfort you will experience. Another factor is how sensitive and tolerable you are to pain.

If you are sensitive to pain, you can choose to apply a topical, prescription anesthetic cream provided by your provider to your skin before your treatment. During treatment, we use a Zimmer Cryo cooler to decrease pain and lower the risk of scarring. Some patients also use nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to reduce discomfort while those with smaller tattoos can benefit from local anesthesia injections. Immediately after your session, you can cover your tattoo with an ice pack to soothe the area and apply an antibiotic ointment and to protect your skin.

Your First Session Typically Won’t Be Your Last

While most patients wish that removing a tattoo was as easy as getting one, that is almost never the case. No matter the size of your tattoo, you will most likely need multiple sessions to get the results you want. Even the best lasers are only able to break down a certain amount of pigments each session. Fortunately, we are one of the few centers in the country that offer both PicoWay™ and PicoSure™ which are the most up-to-date laser technologies that typically require fewer sessions, effectively target most tattoo colors and greatly reduce the risk of scarring compared to other tattoo removal lasers. Your provider will assess your tattoo and, depending on factors such as size, color and age of your tattoo, we will give you an estimate of how many sessions you will need.

Additionally, you won’t be able to attend removal sessions back to back. After laser treatment, your skin needs between four to six weeks to absorb the broken down pigments and heal. Receiving any additional treatment during this period is counterproductive and may cause increased scarring potential or permanent skin damage. Given this, you should expect the removal process to take over a year to fully complete.

Ultimately, laser tattoo removal is an extremely safe and effective option for those looking to remove their unwanted tattoo. If you’re interested in learning more about tattoo removal and about the lasers we offer such as PicoSure™ and PicoWay™, contact Dermatology Associates of Atlanta today. Also, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more skincare information.