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BLUSH Beverly Hills is the premier aesthetic medicine destination for those looking for natural, beautiful results for the face, skin, and body without going under the knife. 

Laser Tattoo Removal Recovery

A regrettable tattoo can leave you feeling frustrated, self-conscious, and unhappy every time you look at it. Fortunately, thanks to the advancements in laser technology, your unwanted tattoo is no longer permanent. Once, lasers could only fade the tattoo ink, whereas now, laser technology can completely erase the tattoo.

If you have an unwanted tattoo you’d like to get rid of and are considering laser tattoo removal, it’s helpful to understand the process, how to prep, and what recovery looks like so that you go into the experience knowing what to expect. Proper preparation and recovery are crucial for getting the best results. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know to prepare for your laser tattoo removal session and have an optimal recovery process.

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

The first step to preparing for your laser tattoo removal session is understanding how the process works so you can understand what to expect during the session and your entire laser tattoo removal journey. Laser tattoo removal works by using a high-powered laser that sends short pulses of light from the laser to the skin. The light from the high-powered laser can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin where the tattoo ink is held. When the laser hits the treatment area, it heats up and shatters the ink pigments within the skin. If you want more details about the tattoo removal laser, read Understanding The PicoWay Laser article we wrote.

The laser essentially causes an injury to your skin so that your body’s natural healing process will kick in, which is when the ink removal actually happens. After the laser has shattered the ink particles, your body will begin to go through the healing process. The body’s immune system sends white blood cells to the treatment area where the ink was shattered to heal and washes away the shattered ink particles, lightening the appearance of the tattoo over time.

Because the laser can’t reach all the layers of ink at once and only shatters the first layer with ink it reaches, it takes multiple sessions to fully remove the entire tattoo. How many sessions you require depends on the size of your tattoo, its location, ink colors used, how old it is, and how deep the ink was placed.

How to Prep for Your Tattoo Removal Session

Before your first laser tattoo removal session, you’ll want to have a consultation with your laser technician to assess your tattoo and come up with a treatment plan of how many sessions you’ll likely need. During your consultation, your technician will also tell you how to prepare on the day of and go over the process. However, we’ll discuss a few key things to help you prepare below.

Manage Your Expectations

Tattoo removal isn’t an overnight process. It’s much harder to remove a tattoo than to get one. To have the best experience possible, you want to go in with reasonable expectations to have a positive experience. Depending on the conditions of your tattoo, it may take three sessions, or it may take seven sessions or even more. Your technician will let you know what timeframe to expect for your specific tattoo removal and what to do to get the best results possible.

Knowing how the different components of your tattoo will affect the removal process is also helpful to know when setting your expectations. Location plays a big role in how quickly the tattoo ink will fade. Tattoos located on your limbs or further away from your heart may take longer to remove due to vascular supply in the healing process. Your body needs blood flow to heal, and if the tattoo is further away from the heart, the healing process will be slower due to diminished blood flow.

Eat and Hydrate Before Your Session

Tattoo removal is an uncomfortable process, and if you’re sensitive to pain and haven’t eaten or are dehydrated, you may get lightheaded or experience vertigo during or after your session. It’s good to eat something an hour before your appointment, come hydrated, and continue to hydrate after your appointment, which is also helpful for the recovery process.

Take Something for the Pain

Most people go through their laser tattoo removal session with the targeted area numbed to lessen the pain. Most laser technicians have topical numbing cream they can apply in the office before your appointment. However, most topical numbing creams take at least 30-45 minutes to reach an optimal numbing effect. To avoid adding extra time to your appointment, you can buy your own topical numbing cream to apply at home about 45 minutes to an hour before your appointment to arrive with the area already numb. Make sure to ask your laser technician which brand they recommend.

Before your session, you can also take Tylenol— not aspirin or Ibuprofen—to help alleviate the discomfort. Other over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin and Ibuprofen can make your bruise afterward, so if you are going to take over-the-counter pain medication make sure it’s Tylenol.

If you still experience a high level of discomfort which topical numbing cream and Tylenol, you may be able to receive lidocaine injections before your sessions for a stronger numbing effect. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic injected into the treatment area that’s more powerful than topical local anesthetics. Where you get your laser tattoo removal may offer lidocaine injections as an add-on. If not, your laser technician may be able to refer you to a doctor’s office that can provide you with lidocaine injections before your appointment.

Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

Depending on where your tattoo is, you may need to wear loose-fitting clothing that won’t graze or scratch the treated area and cause more discomfort. Your skin will be sensitive and feel like it’s sunburnt after your session, and you may also experience blistering. Wearing loose-fitting clothes to and after your session will make sure you’re as comfortable as possible and prevent any potential blisters from popping, which can cause scarring and make the tattoo removal process more difficult.

How to Prep for Tattoo Removal Recovery

Following the proper recovery process steps is essential since the tattoo removal process really happens during the healing process. You can take several steps to optimize the recovery process that we will go over below.

Stay Hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is essential to help aid your body’s healing process. Hydration helps immensely with wound recovery, which your body is doing after your laser tattoo removal session, healing a wound. When your skin gets damaged, blood rushes oxygen and other necessary nutrients to the wound site throughout the healing process. If you’re dehydrated, less oxygen will be delivered to the wound site, making the healing process slower or not as effective.

Stay Out of the Sun

During your laser tattoo removal journey, the sun is not your friend. The last thing you want to do is get a sunburn on your freshly lasered tattoo or slow down the ink removal by adding more damage to the skin via the sun. Wearing clothing over the tattoo being removed is the best option. However, if the tattoo you’re having removed is located on an area often exposed to the sun, make sure you always wear SPF.

Keep the Treated Area Hydrated

Keeping the treated area hydrated is also important for optimal healing and recovery. Similar to the healing process when getting a tattoo, after your laser tattoo removal session, your skin will be raw and then start to scab over and flake or peel. You will most likely be instructed to apply a healing ointment like Aquaphor for the first one to three days after your session and then continue to keep it hydrated with fragrance-free lotion until all scabbing is gone.

Avoid Picking Scabs

While it may be tempting to pick the scabs or peel off flaking skin while the treatment area is healing, for best results, it’s best not to. Picking scabs can lead to infection and potential scarring, which can affect your overall tattoo removal process. It’s harder for the laser to reach the layers of the skin where the ink sits if there are scars present. If you aren’t gentle during the healing process and get scars, it may reduce the effectiveness of future laser sessions and your overall results.

The Bottom Line

Just because you regret getting a tattoo doesn’t mean you have to live with that mistake for the rest of your life. Tattoo removals are becoming more and more common every year, read the latest tattoo removal stories for more information. At BLUSH Beverly Hills, we have the latest technology in lasers to zap away your unwanted tattoo. Our laser technicians have extensive experience performing laser tattoo removal sessions with minimal discomfort and optimal results.

To get started, contact us to book a consultation and discuss your options.