Is Removing Tattoos Really More Painful?

by Lindsey Rose Black

Remember that awesome night you drunkenly decided to get a tattoo you’d love forever and ever only to wake up and find, although you can’t recall the evening, your ankle and its new ink certainly can? Harpers Bazaar's beauty writer Alexandra Tunell serves as a reminder you’re not alone on the journey of tattoo regret and removal, and that there is light (errr fading?) at the end of the tunnel. She's only started her removal process, but is documenting the painful (and some surprisingly painless) details of every step.

Tunell wanted to get rid of the large and depressingly misshapen black horse on the back of her neck for years, but didn’t think she had the pain tolerance. However, when she started working as a fashion and beauty writer (aka the best job ever) years later, she noticed stories about a technology called PicoSure that promised painless removal. Dreaming of days she could rock cute summer viking-inspired braids without feeling incredibly self-conscious, Tunell took the plunge and made an appointment with Dr. Geronemous at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York.

Using laser technology for tattoo removal isn’t new, but according to PicoSure, their technology stands apart because the “ultra-short pulses (one trillionth of a second in length) hit the ink particle with a pressure so great, the ink shatters into tiny dust-like particles. Because the particles are so small, they are more readily absorbed and eliminated by the body.”

Bracing herself for at least some pain, Tunell was shocked to find the five syringes of Lidocaine were the worst part of the procedure. She described the laser treatment itself as “painless—totally, completely painless, as in can't-feel-even-a-slight-rubberband-snap.” Once the Lidocaine wore off, she commented that her skin felt like it was severely sunburned, but was reassured it would lessen once the area scabbed over just like a tattoo.

Even though tattoos really can be removed now, treatments don't come cheap and aren’t necessarily covered under your insurance plan. If you’re hesitant about getting inked, try out temporary versions. You can even make your own DIY temporary tattoos out of flower petals. And for those of you out there like Tunell, good luck on your removal journeys!

Image Credit: Giphy