Posted by: Skin and Cancer Institute in Laser Treatments

Woman with the palm of her hand on her head

Just spend a day at the beach and you’ll quickly see that many Americans have tattoos these days. Tattoos are more common today than at any other time in history. Some estimates say close to 30 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, and many have several. That’s a lot of ink! And surveys have shown that many people have tattoo regret, which is the negative feeling of having an unwanted tattoo on their body.

Causes of tattoo regret

The regret can be due to the tattoo itself, its location, or the meaning of the tattoo. For some, the tattoo is not what they wanted. Others may have had their tattoo done in a place that is visible to others, and they no longer want it to be seen. Some people may regret a tattoo because it reminds them of a past relationship or other negative experience, or they’ve grown tired of the tattoo over time. Finally, some tattoos don’t look as good as they once did because they have changed size or the colors have faded over time.

How to cope with tattoo regret

It’s not unusual to feel regret after getting a tattoo. Research suggests that as many as one in three people who get inked eventually regret their decision. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair! There are several ways to cope with tattoo regret.

  1. One option is simply accepting your tattoo and learning to live with it.
  2. Another option is to cover up your tattoo with another design, make-up, or clothing.
  3. Finally, you could explore tattoo removal options. With advances in technology, removing a tattoo with minimal side effects is possible.

Whatever you decide, remember there’s no shame in regretting a tattoo. It’s a common experience!

How to remove a tattoo with the YAG laser

At Skin And Cancer Institute, we use the most technologically advanced laser treatment for tattoo removal—the YAG laser machine, also known as the yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser. It works by dissolving ink pigments beneath the skin with highly concentrated light beams. Your provider can remove a tattoo on any body part except certain areas surrounding the eyes. The treatments are usually performed over a series of sessions, and each session will result in an increasingly-faded tattoo.

How much of a tattoo can the YAG laser remove?

If you’re considering getting a tattoo removed, it’s essential to know that there’s no guarantee it will be gone entirely. The YAG laser effectively breaks up tattoo pigment, but some colors are more resistant than others. Black, blue, and dark green inks are generally the easiest to remove, while purple, turquoise yellow, and fluorescent dyes can be more stubborn. And while specific colors may be easier to remove than others, it’s also important to remember that laser removal is only partially effective for most people. In other words, your tattoo will likely fade after treatment, but it’s unlikely to disappear completely. So if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo removed, make sure you’re okay with the possibility that it may not disappear completely. Also, if your tattoo is new, chances are it will not fade as well as an older tattoo.

How many YAG laser treatments do I need?

In most cases, 5-10 treatments are necessary for the best results. But the number of sessions and length of each session will depend on the size, location, and color of your tattoo and how deep it was placed in your skin.

Why does it take multiple sessions to remove a tattoo?

Tattoo artists ink their designs in layers, so it usually takes more than one session to reach all of these layers and remove the tattoo. In addition, the laser breaks the ink pigment into smaller particles, which are then flushed out by your body. However, this can take time between sessions, and your skin also needs time to heal. 

What to expect on your YAG laser treatment day

Before treatment begins, your provider will give you a pair of protective eye shields. Then they will test your skin’s reaction to the laser to determine the most effective energy intensity for your skin type. When treatment begins, your specialist will use the laser to pass intense light pulses through the top layers of your skin that the tattoo pigment will absorb. Smaller tattoos will require fewer pulses, while larger ones will need more. Small tattoos take less than a minute per treatment, and even the largest tattoos take under 15 minutes per session.

How does tattoo removal feel?

During the laser tattoo removal process, you might feel a brief snapping sensation as each light pulse is delivered to your skin. Afterward, you may feel some warmth that usually subsides within an hour.

Do I need pain management for tattoo removal?

Anesthesia might be used during your tattoo removal procedure to help lessen the discomfort. A couple of different types of anesthesia can be used, and your provider will decide which is best for you based on the location of your tattoo and your ability to tolerate discomfort. Local anesthesia numbs the area around the tattoo, while topical anesthesia prevents you from feeling some of the discomfort on the surface of your skin.

What should I know about tattoo removal aftercare?

Your provider will give you an ice pack to help reduce swelling after your treatment is complete. You will need to use a topical antibiotic cream or ointment and cover it with a bandage. Using sunscreen and keeping the treated area out of the sun is essential. Showers are allowed the next day if you are gentle with the treated area.

Bottom line

If you’re experiencing tattoo regret, don’t worry; you’re not alone. And fortunately, there are options available to help remove your tattoo.

The Skin and Cancer Institute offers the latest YAG laser technology to remove tattoos safely and effectively. If you’re interested in learning more or booking an appointment, visit our website today.