In a perfect world laser tattoo removal would be painless. Unfortunately, it’s not. You can expect to feel some discomfort during your laser tattoo removal session. Some say laser tattoo removal feels like having a rubber band snapped against their skin. Others think it feels like they’re having their skin pricked rapidly or having a sunburn scratched. But the pain isn’t unbearable. In fact, most people find it’s no more painful than getting their initial tattoo.
While most people generally don’t need anesthesia, the amount of discomfort you feel depends entirely on your tolerance for pain. The area being treated also determines how uncomfortable you’ll be. Areas with more fat, like the arms and thighs, are usually not as painful to treat. Areas with little fat, such as the neck or ankles, can sting a bit. But you’ll usually have the option to reduce discomfort through use of a topical anesthetic cream, an oral painkiller or a local anesthetic injected into the treatment site. (With Q-switch lasers physicians frequently administer a topical anesthetic, such as EMLA, two hours prior to treatment.) Keep in mind, though, that laser exposure during each laser tattoo removal session typically only lasts a few seconds to a minute.