Sometimes, we make mistakes in life -- big, ugly, somewhat permanent mistakes. But after taking a look at some tattoo removal before and afters, we realize they don't have to be so permanent! Nowadays, laser tattoo removal clinics are just as popular as tattoo parlors. Wherever there is someone completely enamored with their new ink, there's someone else dying to have it ripped off their dermis.
But how do you choose the right laser removal clinic? What kind of machines do they use? And the most important question of all -- does it hurt? These crucial questions are critical before you go on your great tattoo removal adventures. Our guide will help you navigate the world of tattoo removal before you jump off the deep end.
Love In Full Bloom
Eyeliner Be Gone
No Longer Rearing Its Ugly Head
Why Would You Want to Remove Your Tattoo?
Before we take a look at some tattoo removal before and afters, you may wonder: Why do people remove them in the first place? If you do not have or do not regret your ink, consider yourself lucky. Those who no longer want any or specific tattoos on their bodies remove them for several reasons.
One of the most popular reasons why people have tattoos removed is because they are impacting career advancement. While the workplace has become more tolerable with tattoos, there are extreme tattoos a potential employer would not permit. Tattoos based on racist ideologies are an example of unacceptable tattoos in the workplace, especially if they are in a visible place. Face, finger, and arm tattoos are high-visibility spots where tattoo removals are common.
Tattoos drawn when drunk or in prison are usually in bad taste. Many ex-convicts have their tattoos removed because they no longer associate with the crowd on the inside. Secondly, their belief or value system now is different from when they were in prison, and therefore, because this tattoo no longer represents who they are, they have them removed. When it comes to drunk tattoos, thankfully tattoo parlors are by appointment only. Secondly, they usually don't allow drunk clientele into their shops, never mind sit down and get a tattoo. However, if you were to get a tattoo somehow while drunk, you'll wake up with a painful reminder to never do it again.
Dislike their tattoo
Lastly, someone may wish to have their tattoo removed because they no longer like how it looks. That is especially the case with permanent makeup including eyebrow microblading and waterline tattoos. The recipient may have received the tattoo when it was in-style but now is no longer fashionable. Secondly, they may not be as happy with the permanent makeup as they thought they would be. Lastly, the color they originally had may have faded or even changed color due to sun exposure or oxidization reduction reaction.
Tattoo Removal Options
Before jumping off the deep end of tattoo removals, it is wise to know about your options.
Laser tattoo removal
While laser tattoo removal is the most common method of elimination, it is certainly not the only one. What laser tattoo removal does is break up the ink into tiny fragments. Then, your immune system clears up those fragments until the tattoo is mostly gone. That, however, takes several sessions (depending on how large and colorful the tattoo is), causes blistering, and is costly.
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
The next best thing is IPL -- Intense Pulsed Light Therapy. While heralded as being more effective and less painful than laser tattoo removal, it is also significantly more expensive. It easily costs 10 times as much as laser tattoo removal.
Surgical and chemical removal
Surgical removal (skin grafting) is also an option for smaller tattoos, although you're almost guaranteed to have a scar that lasts a lifetime. It is also extremely costly and recovery times are long.
Chemical-based products such as peels and creams are also popular. While an inexpensive option for tattoo removal, its effectiveness is debatable. Tat B Gone is one of the top tattoo removal creams. It is inexpensive and much less painful compared to other methods but takes significantly longer to see results. Doctors do not recommend these methods, as they can damage your skin and do you more harm than good.
Sanding and salabrasion
There are several other methods including sanding and salabrasion that may be considered more "natural." They do not employ the use of expensive machines, creams, or lasers. But they are much more painful and will leave a scar. The sanding method involves taking sandpaper and rubbing the tattoo over and over until the top layer of skin (and tattoo) is rubbed off. This method does not guarantee the complete removal of the tattoo, and there is a great risk of infection. Salabrasion is another method that is also high on the pain and cost meter. It involves using water, salt, and lots of elbow grease to rub away the tattoo. To stave away infection, have a professional conduct the salabrasion and use sterile gauze, bandages, and ointment.
Lastly, if none of these options appeal to you, you could always cover up your tattoo with another one. Depending on the size and color, you may need to cover the existing ink with a larger, darker tattoo.
What You Need to Know Before Removing Your Tattoo
If after looking at all of the tattoo removal options you have decided on laser removal, there are a few things you should know — first thing's first: the cost.
The price varies greatly on the size of the tattoo and its color. Both of those factors will determine how many session you'll need to erase the tattoo as much as possible. But on average, each session costs anywhere from $200 to $500. Multiply that by how many sessions you'll need and you have your total for your laser tattoo removal therapy.
When it comes to pain, everyone's tolerance is different. What is very painful for one person may be a walk in the park for someone else. Having said that, if you tolerated the tattoo process, you would be able to withstand laser tattoo removal. If you feel the pain will be too great, talk to your technician about the possibility of using local anesthesia to make the process more comfortable. However, you may feel just fine with the occasional ice pack.
Is it completely gone?
After you've gone through the removal process, it is important to manage your expectations. Your tattoo may not be 100 percent removed once all is said and done. You may still see a faint outline of your previous tattoo no matter how many sessions you've completed. Tattoos with black, blue, green, and red are more responsive to lasers and are easily removable. However, tattoos with yellow, orange, and white are harder to remove. Amateur tattoos generally have less pigment and are shallower on the skin, which makes the removal process easier. Professional tattoos are deeper and thus, require more sessions.
Finally, although laser tattoo removal is the safest and most successful method, there are some risks. First off, the site is at risk for infection and scarring. There is also a risk for hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation. Hypopigmentation is when the treated skin is paler than the surrounding skin. But some tattoos (such as cosmetic ones) are more at-risk for hyperpigmentation, which means they darken after treatment.
How to Find the Best Laser Tattoo Removal Clinic
It is essential to do your research before diving head-first into laser tattoo removal. First off, ask your group of family and friends if they have ever professionally removed a tattoo. If they have, perhaps they can recommend the clinic. Word of mouth is much more trustworthy than any written testimonial.
Like laser eye surgery clinics, free laser tattoo removal consultations are a sign of a good clinic. Do some preliminary research on the clinic of your choice and book a consultation. Once you arrive at the clinic, look for official certifications — they should be in plain view for everyone to see. When your appointment time comes, check out their equipment. Does it seem old, over-used, or broken in any way? Ask for tattoo removal before and afters photos. Most importantly, ask lots of questions. If your technician is unable to answer your questions or if you feel skeptical of their abilities, seek a second opinion.
Knowing the process before you start is vital to ensure there are no surprises along the way. The first sign of a good tattoo removal clinic is a free initial assessment. Here, the specialist will ask about your family history and conduct a patch test. The patch test consists of a technician shooting a single shot of the laser to your skin. You will come back a few days to a week after to ensure you have no adverse reaction to the laser. If all is well, your therapy can commence.
Talk to your specialist to find out if you require any local anesthesia to make the process more comfortable. There are some parts of the body which are more sensitive than others and will require local anesthesia, ice, or a combination of both. Pain level differs from person to person. Some compare the sensation to a sunburn or pinpricks, while others describe it like a rubber band snapping against their skin. You'll more than likely require multiple sessions to get rid of your tattoo completely.
One of the best signs of successful tattoo removal is frosting. Frosting occurs when gas bubbles (caused by the laser removal) rise to the surface of the skin. Although it may look disconcerting, it is an entirely natural side effect and disappears after 5 to 15 minutes. After your session(s), you will also experience blistering, swelling, and scabbing in the affected area. Remember to keep the area wrapped in a sterile bandage for at least three days. After three days, after-care is ironically similar to that of getting a tattoo. Use mild soap and warm water to clean and pat dry. Do not pick at scabs, and use an ointment (such as Aquaphor) to reduce itchiness caused by dry skin.
Best Tattoo Removal Before and Afters
We've selected the best tattoo removal before and afters so you can have a better idea of how laser tattoo removal looks. Some of the patients in these photos have results after just two sessions of therapy. Although the results vary, these tattoo removal before and afters are great examples of the laser's effectiveness.
We took a look at where tattoo removal before and afters garner the most reactions: social media. Companies post these before and afters to advertise their laser removal services. They prove that laser tattoo removal is an effective method to get rid of unwanted ink no matter where it is on your body.
Most of these tattoo removal before and afters offer great insight for people looking to manage their expectations when it comes to results. This small "love" tattoo was almost completely removed at Go! Tattoo Removal. Because of its small size and dark lines, this Pennsylvania clinic was able to remove most of the pigmentation after just two sessions. This clinic charges $200 per session.
Love in full bloom
Absolute laser tattoo removal has two locations: San Diego and Los Angeles. Taking a look at their tattoo removal before and afters show lots of happy customers. This flower and heart combo look like this after a few sessions. This clinic offers two tattoo removal laser machines: the Picoway and the Picosure.
This clinic claims the Picoway is much better at removing tattoos than Q-switched lasers. Q-switched lasers can remove both dark and light tattoos without adverse side effects such as scarring. Picoway offers the highest peak power with the shortest pulse duration. That means less heat from the laser and a more comfortably tattoo removal session. In contrast, the Picosure claims to be more effective in removing nearly 100 percent of the tattoo (even stubborn blue and green inks) in as little as 3 sessions.
Some tattoo removal before and afters are quite faint after just one session. But this example is not one of them! This client took the saying "go big or go home" quite literally. This client from Melbourne, Australia had a significant amount of her tattoo removed after a single treatment. The clinic Lazer Erazer came about after owner and laser removal technician Jade Louise was unhappy with her tattoo removal procedures. She wanted to create a fun, judgment-free environment that makes her clients feel appreciated and at home. Lazer Erazer uses a Fotona QX Max, a Q-switched laser machine which uses single-pulse technology, to remove pigments from the dermis.
The darker the tattoo, the easier it is to remove. This "Alex" tattoo is nearly a memory after just a few sessions. The clinic, 1 Point Tattoo, is located in Kaulia, Hawaii. This one-stop-shop both creates and removes tattoos. If you're planning on covering up your existing tattoo, this could very well be the best place to go.
Besides their tattoo laser removal machine, they have invested in a Zimmer cryo cooling machine. This specialized machine blows cold air (-30 degrees Celcius) at the treatment site to numb the skin within a few minutes. Their prices are unavailable online, as their treatment prices depend on the tattoo's size. They also offer discounts for the military and civil service members.
Eyeliner be gone
If you looked quickly at these kinds of tattoo removal before and afters, you may not even notice the difference! But the UnTattoo Parlor successfully removed this client's permanent eyeliner on both upper and lower lid. This clinic uses a combination of Cynosure PicoSure laser machines, as well as a Cutera Enlighten machine. While the Picosure laser machine does the brunt of the work, the latter device treats several skin conditions. This machine revitalizes and lightens skin pigmentation.
These kinds of tattoo removal before and afters really drive home the importance of hiring a qualified laser technician. Having the procedure done on such a sensitive spot so close to your eye is risky. Always ensure you wear corneal shields to protect your eyes from the laser during the procedure.
The fantastic DRM Laser Tattoo Removal clinic eliminated this unsightly arachnid on quite an odd spot: the thumb. Taking a look at these kinds of tattoo removal before and afters makes us see how effective laser machines really are! This Melbourne, Australia-based clinic uses a combination of two machines during tattoo removal: a Fotona QX Max and the Koolio cooling machine.
The Fotona uses four different laser wavelengths which eliminate different colors. The 1064nm Nd: YAG removes very dark (black) pigments and 532 nm KTP removes reds, tans, purples, and orange. Meanwhile, the 650nm wavelength removes greens, and the 585nm eliminates sky blue hues. The Koolio machine features cools up to -40℃ to keep clients as comfortable as possible.
When taking a look at tattoo removal before and afters, we came across a tattoo removal covered in "frost." Urge Tattoo is a shop located in Vancouver, Canada specializing in laser tattoo removal. This before and after shows a skull tattoo covered in frost immediately after the first session of treatment. The frosting dissipates approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the procedure.
The client will have to return for more sessions to eliminate their unwanted ink. According to their website, they'll need to wait six to eight weeks between each removal session. That gives your body enough time to break everything down entirely. It also reduces the number of total treatments.
No longer rearing its ugly head
Some tattoo removal before and afters can only be seen in certain situations. In this case, we could only see the tattoo on the back of this gentleman's head when his head is mostly bald. After three treatments, the tattoo is a shadow of its former self. The clinic suspects that the removal will be 100 percent complete after a final session in 3 to 4 months.
This before and after photo is courtesy of MJ Driver, a five-location tattoo removal clinic in Australia. They offer free consultations, and although prices vary, sessions start at $80 per procedure. MJ Driver uses three machines for their removals: the cynosure Picosure, Medlite C6, and the Revlite. The Medlite c6 and revlite are Q-switched laser machines, while the Picosure is the newest and most popular piece of laser equipment.
The most critical step in choosing the right clinic is research, research, and more research! Look for qualified technicians offering a judgment-free environment and professional equipment. Inspect photos of their tattoo removal before and afters — the clinic should have plenty of examples. Being comfortable in their clinic and confident with their expertise is essential to have a positive experience. Shop around, book your free consultations, and ask as many questions as possible. Like love, you'll know when you've found the right one.
Featured image via Pixabay