Take one Kat Von D—a former tattoo artist on reality TV show LA Ink. Unfortunately, being in the profession herself didn’t give her immunity from a bad tattoo idea of her own. According to the LA Times, she underwent laser tattoo removal in 2012 after breaking up with her ex-fiancé Jesse James. He cheated on her with not one, but 19 other women. The tattoo in question? His entire face right on top of her ribcage.
Maybe you can relate. If you do, you may be wondering “can tattoos be removed completely?”. You’ll be pleased to know, thanks to laser tattoo removal, the answer is a resounding “yes!”. But how does it work, and is it accessible to everyone wanting to erase their embarrassing memories ?
How does laser tattoo removal work?
According to a report by McGrindle Research and tattoo laser manufacturer Cynosure published in an article on Professional Beauty, most Australian surveyed didn’t regret their tattoos one bit. 25% however did. These people felt disconnected from them after their personal circumstances changed. If that’s you, you may benefit from laser tattoo removal.
A video on YouTube channel Smarter Every Day breaks downs the process visually. As tattooing is done via needles depositing ink into the skin, the pigment is too large for the body’s cells to destroy naturally. This is what makes it permanent. Lasers are needed to remove the ink because speed and heat are the main two elements that can crack the ink apart into smaller bits. The laser sends light onto the ink particles, rapidly heating one side causing thermal expansion. The other side meanwhile stays cool, meaning it can’t catch up, ripping the ink apart and into more digestible particles for your body’s cells.
How much does tattoo removal cost?
While not an affordable process, prices vary according to the size of your tattoo. Laser is your best bet for bigger tattoos rather than surgical tattoo removal, which only works for smaller ones. That means eyebrow tattoo removal, for example, would cost far less than a full tattoo sleeve removal. Consumer advocacy group CHOICE estimates the average cost in Sydney and Melbourne starts at $4,500 for a 10x10cm multi-coloured tattoo and up to $19,500 for a 30x40cm multi-coloured tattoo. When checking prices, make sure you get a realistic estimate as some treatment providers have been known to underestimate the required number of visits you’ll need.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
We won’t beat around the bush here: yes, there is pain involved. Some say the pain can be excruciating, while others say the pain is equal to having a new tattoo done. Better to be safe than sorry: ask for numbing creams and painkillers if you have the option. Scarring is another common concern. That’s a myth, although you’re more likely to increase the risk of receiving scars from treatment if you’re prone to keloids, have previous scar tissue from tattooing itself, or neglect proper aftercare procedures.
Tattoo removal blisters, on the other hand, are relatively commonplace due to the laser’s heat. According to LiveStrong, these blisters eventually heal on their own, but it’s recommended to watch for signs of infection and apply an antibiotic ointment to any that burst.
How are laser tattoo removal results?
A completely removed tattoo—sometimes. Provided you attend the recommended number of sessions, tattoos removed via laser do in fact disappear. However, there is a risk of it not fading completely, so it’s important to have an extended conversation with an expert to weigh the pros and cons of full removal versus a cover up job. Either way, you just might be surprised by how different the area looks in your before and after photos.
Here are some success stories and before and after results for inspiration: