How to Prepare for Your Laser Tattoo Removal Session

Now that you’ve decided to get rid of your unwanted tattoo, it’s time to learn how to prepare for your first laser tattoo removal session. To get the best results possible, there are some things you should do ahead of time as well as some activities you want to avoid. Mental preparation can be helpful, too, and should begin several weeks prior to your appointment, so be sure not to wait until the last minute to get the skin surrounding your unwanted ink ready for treatment.

Consider these tips and get ready to start watching your unwanted ink fade away.

Do Your Research

The first thing you should do to prepare for laser tattoo removal is to find a trustworthy laser clinic. There are many medspas out there that offer these services; however, the lasers they use were designed for superficial beauty treatments. Using the wrong laser can cause blistering, scarring, and permanent discoloration of the skin. Even though these medspas may seem appealing, as they’re usually cheaper, the lasers they use can never fully remove your tattoo and often do more damage than good.

Stay Out of the Sun

If you worship the sun, you will have to take some time off while going through your laser tattoo removal process. A licensed laser medical technician won’t be able to perform the treatment if the skin is sunburned or even tanned in some cases. This is due to the fact that the skin is more sensitive after being in the sun and may have adverse reactions to laser treatments. It’s recommended to stay out of the sun or keep the treated area covered when outside for two weeks prior to each laser session. Additionally, you will need to keep the area out of the sun for two weeks after your appointment while it is healing.

Know What to Expect

It’s important to manage your expectations when going through the tattoo removal process. Understand that it takes time and that there are a number of factors that contribute to how many laser treatments are needed to achieve complete removal. Most people require at least five sessions, but factors such as ink color, quality, location, and skin type can all impact that number. To get a better idea of how many laser treatments you will need, see a licensed medical laser technician for a consultation. While they won’t be able to know for sure until they see how the tattoo reacts to the first few treatments, they can give you a rough estimate.

Eat and Drink Plenty of Fluids

It’s important that you don’t show up to your laser tattoo removal appointment on an empty stomach, especially if you have a history of dizzy spells and fainting. Be sure to eat a regular meal and drink plenty of fluids beforehand. While treatments rarely last more than 20 minutes, depending on the size of your unwanted tattoo, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Ask If Numbing Options Are Offered

Even though laser tattoo removal is only mildly uncomfortable and is similar to the sensation of being tattooed, many patients prefer to reduce their discomfort with a numbing agent. The clinic may offer a cold compress, use a cryogenic cooling machine, or offer numbing cream, but it’s best to ask ahead of time so that you’re prepared for the day of your first treatment. If they don’t offer numbing cream, you can pick some up at the drugstore over the counter and apply it before your appointment.

Avoid Topical Creams and Cosmetics

Directly prior to your laser tattoo treatment, avoid using any lotions, perfumes, body sprays, concealers, or other alcohol-based topical products. These can have a negative effect on the skin during your appointment, causing mild burns, itching, and irritation. The best surface to work with is recently washed and freshly shaven, so keep that in mind before each of your laser sessions. If you choose to use a numbing cream, it’s OK to apply that, but be sure to inform your licensed laser medical technician. You will also want to avoid using the same products after your treatment until the area is no longer sensitive and has finished healing.

Wear Comfortable Clothing

If your unwanted tattoo is in an area that is usually covered by clothes, wear something loose and soft on the day of your laser appointment. The area tends to swell up a bit during laser removal, and while this side effect only lasts an hour or two, having to squeeze into tight jeans or a top made of rough material afterward will certainly cause discomfort. You may want to continue doing this for several days to give the skin room to breathe and allow it to properly heal.

Do Not Take Ibuprofen or Aspirin

Taking ibuprofen or aspirin prior to your laser tattoo removal appointment will cause excessive bruising surrounding the area being treated. If you are interested in taking something orally to reduce your discomfort, only take Tylenol (acetaminophen) because it’s processed in the liver and won’t cause bruising.

See how laser tattoo removal is performed and ensure you’re prepared for your first appointment by watching the following video:

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Paul A. Boulos
Dr. Paul A. Boulos is an excellent and versatile cosmetic surgeon, passionate about his vocation and helping others. Dr. Boulos is an alumni of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his General Surgery training at Inspira Medical in Southern New Jersey. He studied and learn under Dr. Joseph Castellano, one of the premier breast and body Cosmetic Surgeons in South Florida. He currently works as a Cosmetic Surgeon at Jolie Plastic Surgery in Miami, FL.