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  • Writer's pictureZak Lockhead

Does Tattoo Removal hurt and how long does it take?

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

As Laser technicians, we often get the same questions over and over and over again. I mean, I wish I had a pound for every time I had been asked ‘how many sessions will it take’ or my personal favourite ‘Well how much does laser tattoo removal hurt’. Now whilst I joke, these are very valid questions. So to help, I have written this article to answer these age old questions.

How long does tattoo removal take?

Before deciding on tattoo removal the first question you're probably asking yourself 'How long does tattoo removal take’. Well, the actual session time of laser tattoo removal is extremely fast. For example, a tattoo covering your arm will be completed with the tattoo removal device in about 5 minutes (depending on the device used of course). However, tattoo removal can be a long process and usually more than 1 session is needed.

Laser tattoo removal
Laser tattoo removal for a tattoo of this size would take around 5-10 minutes per session

How many Laser tattoo removal sessions will I need?

This all depends on what the tattoo is and where it is located. One thing you also have to consider is if you want it fading or a complete removal. For example, some clients will just want it fading enough to be covered with something better, and this can usually be done in just a few sessions. Whereas if you want it completely removing so it cannot be seen, this will be a much longer process and may take as many as 20 sessions. Whilst we can never ever tell a client exactly how long it takes, there is a scale we can use that can help us decide. I must mention, that this scale is far from perfect, and I have debated many tattoo removal technicians that think this scale is the gospel truth (believe me its not). However, it is useful for giving you a good estimate. This scale is called the Kirby-Desai scale and I have attached it below.

Now, this scale works as follows, each point is a tattoo removal session. So for example, If a client came in during the initial consultation and they have the following:

  • Skin type I

  • They have a tattoo on their chest

  • It is black only

  • It was done by a professional

  • There is no scarring

  • It wasn’t a cover up

We add points from each column: (Skin type I = 1 point + Upper body tattoo = 2 points + black tattoo = 1 point+ done by a professional = 3 points + no scarring = 0 points + not a cover up = 0 points + 2.5 points (we add this to everything) and we can say that the tattoo would probably take around 9 or 10 sessions to remove.

Do you have any examples of tattoo removal after many sessions

Yes, this tattoo was almost completely removed in 7 sessions, only a small amount of pigment was visible following treatment.

Laser tattoo removal

Does tattoo removal hurt?

The second most asked question by clients ‘Well does tattoo removal hurt?’. There is no way around this, yes it does. It sort of feels like an extremely warm rubber band being flicked at you time and time again (not nice). It also hurts more than having the tattoo done which is very unfair if you think about it. Thankfully the session time is much less than having the tattoo done

Why does tattoo removal hurt?

Simply put, a laser is being fired at your skin which is absorbed by the ink particles and generates heat! Now whilst this heat is confined to the ink particle and does not affect the surrounding skin and tissue, it stills leads to a considerable amount of pain!

Thank you for reading the article. Remember, I offer level 4 and 5 accredited courses and also stock the highest quality ND:YAG and IPL machines for all your needs. I offer a free consultation for anyone that needs any help.

Dr Lockhead

0113 418 0464


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