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Posted on Aug 20, 2018

Breaking up with your tattoo: Tattoo Removal 101

So, you’ve decided on a tattoo. You carefully select your artist and finally say “I do”. Getting a tattoo can sometimes feel like a wedding between the ink and your skin. But just like relationships, ...

So, you’ve decided on a tattoo. You carefully select your artist and finally say “I do”. Getting a tattoo can sometimes feel like a wedding between the ink and your skin. But just like relationships, we might change our minds about our permanent ink.  A drunk whim, ex-lover, or a phase in your life – tattoo regrets happen, we get it. But the good news is that sometimes, bad decisions like these are temporary. Thanks to technology, tattoo removal has become increasingly popular and readily available. We know the process of getting a tattoo removed can be a little overwhelming. To help ease you in, we’ve answered some basic questions about removing your tattoo. And before you jump at getting your next masterpiece, maybe do a test run with our Freehand Ink or Custom Platform to make sure it’s the right fit.

How do they actually remove the tattoo?

The most common method for removing your tattoo is laser removal. When you initially get a tattoo, the needle goes through the epidermis (first layer of your skin) and then puts the ink into your dermis (second layer of your skin). In the removal process, the laser’s job is to put high-pulses of laser energy through your epidermis. Your tattoo pigment absorbs these pulses, which causes the pigment to break into smaller particles. The goal is that the smaller particles will be transported and stored in other parts of your body, your tissue, or just leave your body completely. It’s easier said than done, but over many sessions, the pigment particles will slowly fade and eventually disappear, leaving the effect of a removed tattoo. The infographic below helps to break it down in baby steps:

Courtesy of: Yaletown Laser Removal Clinic

Other methods of tattoo removal include demabrasion (kind of like “sanding” your skin away minus the sandpaper) and surgical excision (actually removing the piece of skin with the tattoo and then sewing it up with stitches) (ouch!).

How long does tattoo removal take?

This is one of the most popular questions for tattoo removal and unfortunately, one of the hardest to answer. Tattoo removal isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. The time or number of sessions you will need completely varies based on the tattoo and the person. Factors that could impact this include the size of your tattoo, colour, type of ink, location, and the actual tattoo job (was it done professionally, or were you a test subject for your friend trying out stick-and-poke in their basement). You get the picture. It’s a long list, with no set answer. But what we can tell you, is that having a good amount of downtime in between treatments is very important. If you think back-to-back laser sessions will get rid of the tattoo of your ex’s name faster, think again. The risk of side-effects actually becomes higher if another laser treatment is applied too soon. Patience is your friend here.

What are the side effects of removing a tattoo?

Like medication, exercise, and many things we get involved in, there is always the possibility of side effects. It is completely normal to experience side-effects from laser tattoo removal (after all, there are laser rays penetrating your skin). Some side effects of laser removal include:

  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Scabs
  • Bruising
  • Blisters
  • Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin)
  • Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin)

Side effects can be temporary, but, just like tattoo aftercare, proper laser removal aftercare is a major key to avoiding permanent side effects.

How much will it cost to remove my tattoo?

Laser tattoo removal could potentially run you from $1,000 to $10,000. Just like the number of treatments needed, removal pricing is also based on a few factors. This includes the removal clinic, your tattoo size, placement, etc. Now we’re not saying to blow your student loan on tattoo removal, but also remember that scoring a “deal” on your tattoo removal price isn’t necessarily an indication of the quality or it’s results. Getting a few quotes from multiple clinics would be a good idea to help give you a better gauge.

Once you’ve decided that tattoo removal is what you want, do your research about different removal clinics. Go in for consultations, make calls, and have some real talks with your removal specialist. Choosing the right tattoo removal clinic, is just as important of a decision as choosing your next tattoo artist. And if you’re itching for a more affordable ink option in the meantime, let your creativity flow and maybe take our Freehand Ink for a spin.


Written by Jasmin Husain