Does Tattoo Removal Hurt? What You Need To Know

We all make decisions we regret, and some of us have to literally wear them on our sleeves for the rest of our lives. Believe it or not, up to 27% of people with tattoos regret at least one of them at some point in their life.

Luckily, we live in a time with options for removal, but a lot of people are hesitant because of the perceived pain risk. So, does tattoo removal hurt, and what should I expect on my first visit? Glad you asked.

Does Tattoo Removal Hurt?

This is a complicated question for one reason; there are too many variables involved. In general, patients do experience anything from mild discomfort to pain during these sessions, but this depends on a number of factors. Here are some examples.

Pain Tolerance

First, pain is entirely based on the individual. Everybody experiences pain differently, and everybody has different skin types and reactions to the laser. If you know that you have sensitive skin, or that you are sensitive to heat, then you should brace for some pain.

However, if you got the tattoo comfortably enough, then you shouldn’t expect the pain to be overwhelming. Keep in mind, needles and lasers offer different types of pain, but this should give you an idea of how sensitive that area is.


Another factor is the part of your body where the tattoo is located. Sensitive areas like the wrist, neck, butt, lower back, chest, and others are bound to be more painful than other areas.

Areas of your body that have high traffic to stimuli are often less sensitive. An exception to this is our fingers, as we use them to feel and interpret the things around us.

Although, the outside of your forearms touch things far more often than the inside, as they are kept close to your body when at rest. This is why the inside of your forearm is more sensitive than the outside, as it has adapted less to various stimuli. Apply that logic to the part of the body where your unwanted tattoo is located.

Style of Tattoo

Is your tattoo large and spanning multiple regions on your body? If so, you can expect some pain or discomfort, as it will take a long time to remove, and the lasers will be affecting different areas.

If it’s a dark, saturated tattoo, this will also require more time and likely, more discomfort. For example, American Traditional tattoos are known for their deep color saturation in the skin, which will be more challenging to remove.

How Long Is Each Session?

Some laser sessions are very fast, and some take a little time. If you have a smaller tattoo and you do what is requested by your doctor ahead of time, you should expect to be in and out in as little as 45 minutes, in most cases. It’s important to know what to expect during each session, but it is highly individualized.

For a larger tattoo, you should expect more time in each session, and more sessions in general. The saturation and color of the tattoo will also be contributing factors.

How Long Does It Hurt?

Some patients leave each session with mild discomfort, while some walk away without any issues at all. Again, it depends on a wide variety of factors. Although, if you walked out of your tattoo session without any problems, you shouldn’t expect the aftermath of a laser session to be unbearable.

However, some people are sensitive to laser lights and you may experience a mild burning sensation, redness, swelling, or other complications after a season. If this happens to you, you shouldn’t panic, as this is totally normal. Contact your dermatologist if this is the case and ask what to do.

How Many Sessions Does It Take?

This will vary from patient to patient, once again. If your tattoo is already fading, if you use the right follow-up procedures, and you get your sessions done on a regular schedule, then you should expect it to take between 6 and 8 sessions, generally.

This will depend on your skin type, tattoo style, and more. Talk to your dermatologist beforehand and get a personalized estimate.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Yes, actually. While you can’t remove the ink from a tattoo all on your own, there are things you can do to make the process more effective, and potentially even eliminate the need for an extra session or two.

This will save you a little bit of pain and some money! Start by lathering on sunscreen. One of the most common reasons that a tattoo can’t be removed is excessive exposure to the sun.

If you know that you are going to get a tattoo removed in the future, start keeping it out of the sun or use sunscreen as much as possible.

Also, you should make sure that you’re getting these services done by a licensed and experienced dermatologist, as they will be able to offer the best services that will get the job done right, in as little time as possible, and with minimal complications.

Say Goodbye To Your Ink!

Now that we’ve answered the age-old question “does tattoo removal hurt”, you should know that in most cases, it’s not as bad as they say. If you talk to your doctor ahead of time, they’ll be able to give you more personalized information on what to expect on a case-by-case basis. What are you waiting for? Contact us and schedule an appointment today!