When former Hockeyroo Anna Flanagan decided to have two tattoos removed as part of her personal journey of addiction recovery, she had high hopes and real fears about what was involved. Here Anna sits down with Removery laser technician Lawree Pruha to get some honest answers to her questions.
Anna asks: One of the tattoos I want removed is a large sun on my rib cage. I’m a bit nervous as it’s basically sitting on my bone. How much will the removal hurt?
Lawree says: If you can sit through getting a tattoo, you can sit through the removal process, no matter where it’s located on your body. And remember, each treatment is very quick. Depending on size, most tattoos can be treated in less than 90 seconds. We describe the feeling as like a rubber band flicking against the skin, so little intense pulses. On areas of the body where there’s less fatty tissue, you might feel that flicker a little more intensely. But usually, once that first pulse is fired, clients feel like it’s very doable – and that’s especially true if they have previously been treated with older technologies. The PicoWay® laser system is a much more gentle experience because it’s simply speeding up what the body is trying to do naturally from the moment you get a tattoo, which is to remove it. While the body tries to break down this new foreign object. I.e. your tattoo, can’t because the ink particles are too large. Our lasers speed up this natural process by dispersing the particles into smaller pieces. Your body looks after the rest.
Anna asks: I tried to have my back tattoo removed a few years ago with another removal service and the site blistered. I would lean back and feel the blister pop and have fluid running down my back! It looked gross and it hurt. What should I expect after each treatment at Removery?
Lawree says: Blisters are very rare. While they can occur, it’s more commonly on areas of the body that naturally hold a lot of heat, like the mid-torso, or where there is an area of heavily saturated ink. That’s why we don’t usually bandage after treatment: we want to minimise trapping heat in the area. Clients can expect to feel slightly swollen after a treatment and that the treated skin will look a little red.
Anna asks: What about aftercare? What will I need to do?
Lawree says: Immediately before and after the laser treatment, we will ice the skin for three to five minutes. Once the ice comes off, clients are free to get dressed and leave. We recommend applying hydrocortisone cream once a day for five days, avoiding submerging the skin in hot water – so take showers, not baths – and staying out of the sun. Keeping the area clean, dry, and cool is key.
Anna asks: I work full-time and have trouble fitting in extra appointments. How long will each treatment take?
Lawree says: It depends on the size of the tattoo – we usually allow 15 to 20 minutes. That includes icing the skin and potentially moving the client around so we can reach the tattoo more easily. The laser itself is the quickest part of the treatment. We have clients who come in during a lunch break, and we also have late-night opening hours so people can come in after work.
Anna asks: You say I’ll be able to go back to work after the treatment, but what about putting on a bra or crop top? Won’t it rub and be more painful?
Lawree says: If clients are concerned about rubbing or friction from clothes, we can provide a lightweight gauze covering to get them through the day. But most find they are completely fine to get dressed and return to work as normal. You can also take anti-inflammatory medication if you feel you need it, but few people do. We often get asked about using numbing creams, but we recommend against it. The majority of people simply don’t need them.
Anna asks: I’m a very sporty person and love to go to the gym and swim. How long after each treatment can I exercise?
Lawree says: As a general guide we say no rigorous exercise for 24 to 48 hours after treatment. So instead of a run, go for a walk; instead of a boxing class, take an easy bike ride. We want to avoid anything that is going to inflame or irritate the skin – and that includes swimming in a chlorinated pool, which we advise steering clear of for up to five days. Again, we don’t want to submerge the body in a lot of chemicals.
Get Your Free Removal Estimate
Connect with us to start your tattoo removal journeyGet Started
Anna asks: What about going out in the sun? Can I wear a swimsuit after the treatments?
Lawree says: Avoiding the sun for the whole treatment period is our recommendation, as exposure can lead to pigmentation issues. If you are out in the sun, we suggest covering your tattoo with something like sports strapping tape, so that way you can swim and enjoy the weather without worry.
Anna asks: My back tattoo is very visible. Will the process leave a scar? Will my skin look different or be discoloured?
Lawree says: The short answer is no, it shouldn’t leave any scarring. However, before your first treatment, we do a really thorough consultation. That’s going to help us pinpoint if there was damage prior to when the tattoo was applied when it was applied, or afterwards. Sometimes the tattoo artist may have been heavy-handed, or there might be trauma to the skin or pigmentation. As long as there’s no scar tissue or anything that was caused while the tattoo was applied, we generally say we can get the skin back to its original condition. But this is also dependent on clients following the aftercare protocols. You have your responsibilities too! There are some inks we cannot treat, such as white, yellow, and some reds, which may still remain on the skin – but overall we can get most people back to clear skin.
Anna asks: I love tattoos, I just don’t want these two anymore. Will I be able to have another tattoo on top of where the old ones were, or will my skin be too sensitive?
Lawree says: Yes, you can cover an old site after partial removal, or get a new tattoo once the old one is completely removed. We recommend waiting six to eight weeks after your last treatment, as the body is still breaking down those ink particles, but after that, if the skin feels fine and we’re not seeing any redness, you can go ahead. Because we’re not penetrating or opening the skin with the laser, the way a needle does, the skin should feel the same and have no extra sensitivity.
Anna asks: How many treatments will I need? And will the tattoo just fade, or will it be 100 percent gone?
Lawree says: On average clients need between eight and 12 sessions, bearing in mind where the tattoo is on your body makes a big difference. Further from the heart – so fingers, toes, lower limbs, and areas with poorer circulation – can be a bit slower. Referring back to my previous answer, if there are no issues with the skin or the ink, clients can expect the tattoo to be 100 percent removed.
Anna asks: How much will it cost?
Lawree says: The cost will vary depending on the size of the tattoo. We will discuss your individual circumstances during your initial consultation, so you will have a clear idea of how many treatments you are likely to need and what timeframe you’re looking at. We offer several payment plan options with flexible payment terms, starting from $16 per week for a smaller tattoo – effectively the cost of a few cups of coffee a week for the duration of your treatment (packages starting at $1,090 over the course of a year).
Tattoo Removal With Removery
Removery is the world’s largest tattoo removal experts. Want to learn more about tattoo removal? Book a free consultation with a Removery expert today, and read more about Anna’s story and how she overcame addiction.
Book A Free Consultation
Connect with us to start your tattoo removal journey todayGet Started
Book Your Free Consultation
Getting a tattoo removed is a big step. Connect with us to start your removal journey.