Laser tattoo removal: What it's really like to have a tattoo removed

Had an inking you've lived to regret? Joanne Crawford goes under the laser to get rid of an unsightly tattoo she had as a teenager

Ten minutes after I had my tattoo done, I regretted it. I was 18 years old and caught up in the excitement of a weekend away with friends when I found myself in a dodgy tattoo parlour. Without giving any of it much thought, I selected a very generic floral design that unfortunately ended up resembling more of a black and blue bruise than a beautiful bloom.

My biggest regret is having the tattoo on my forearm; a decision which has led to a lifetime of cardigans as I've grown more and more determined to cover it up over the years. But having fretted and worried - and watched a fair few episodes of Tattoo Fixers - I finally decided to take the plunge myself and have it removed.

Does laser tattoo removal hurt?

Steeling myself for the pain to come, I booked in at LaserLife clinic for a patch consultation where they test the reaction of your skin to the laser. My tattoo is only small so the initial test actually turned into my first round of removal. I sat on a bed while Lizzy got to work with the laser. They always start treatment with a large laser, which treats an area 5mm in radius, then the laser is reduced in size with each visit. Unfortunately, the pain doesn't lessen with the size of the laser - if anything, it gets worse as the smaller the laser, the deeper it goes.

I'm not going to lie, it does hurt. It hurts a lot, a bit like being burnt repeatedly with a match. Fortunately there is a cooling machine (like a tiny hairdryer) to make things much more bearable - especially as you're in control of the frequency and strength of the cooler yourself. Plus my tattoo is quite small, about the size of a Jammie Dodger, so each session only took about two minutes.

Unfortunately, while it is small, my tattoo has A LOT of dark ink in it, so it required many more sessions than I'd anticipated before it started to disappear.

Laser tattoo removal results

After the first visit, I noticed a huge difference in the tattoo already. The shading had disappeared from the inside so instead of the tattoo looking like a bruise it mainly looked like an outline of a flower, which I much preferred! I found that I was already more confident with having it on display as I knew it would soon be gone and didn't mind the typical conversation of when/why I got it as I could then talk about it being removed. I have to wait six to eight weeks between each laser treatment for the skin to heal but the tattoo is still breaking down in that time. In fact, by the time you read this, it should be completely gone - and I can finally throw away all my cardigans and bare my forearms with pride.

Tattoo removal before and after

How does laser tattoo removal work?

Laser tattoo removal works by very short pulses of high powered laser light being absorbed by the tattoo ink particles, breaking them down into smaller pieces and then over time a gradual fading of the tattoo occurs.

How long does laser tattoo removal take?

Each tattoo and person will react to the laser removal differently so the number of sessions needed varies hugely. They will be able to give you an idea of how many sessions you'll need at your first appointment.

How much does laser tattoo removal cost?

Prices start at £75 per session but you can also get a course of 3 sessions from £180.

Where can I book it?

For booking information, call 020 7935 5777 or visit

The laser is supplied by Lynton Lasers which can be found nationwide at - they are also the suppliers of the LIGHT SOOTHE.


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