How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
The most effective way to remove a tattoo is via a targeted, in-office laser, during which, laser energy is directed at the pigment "for a matter of picoseconds" (a very small fraction of a second) to break down the ink.
"The laser works to break up pigment particles as a sledgehammer would break up concrete to disrupt and break down the ink, allowing your body to absorb the smaller fragments and break it down naturally over time," Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, told POPSUGAR. "Other than surgical excision, there is currently no other effective method to remove a tattoo."
There are a handful of removal devices on the market, but Dr. Hartman recommends using the PicoSure laser, adding that it's the most advanced treatment available for removing tattoos: "It has revolutionized the way that lasers are treated, significantly reduced the frequency of side effects, and expanded its use for even the darkest of skin tones," he said.
How Many Sessions Will I Need Before My Tattoo Is Completely Gone?
In short: removing a tattoo isn't a quick fix. Because the pigment has been etched onto multiple layers beneath the skin surface, it will take time and multiple sessions to completely break up the pigment. Patients are typically advised to book sessions every six to eight weeks, and on average, it can take between eight to 10 sessions before your desired final result is achieved, depending on how large or faded your tattoo is initially. (Larger tattoos, for example, might require more sessions than 10.)
Will Getting My Tattoo Removed Hurt?
Pain is subjective, and someone's tolerance to the tattoo removal process might vary from one person to the next. You might compare the sensation you get from the laser similarly to getting the actual tattoo, but, according to Dr. Hartman, each session throughout the process is fairly short — it should take no longer than 15 minutes, depending on how large your tattoo is.
If your pain tolerance is low, consider asking your dermatologist or technician to apply numbing cream 20 minutes before treatment.