We do a lot of crazy things when we are young. One of them is getting a tattoo as soon as we are of legal age – something which many people end up regretting later.

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It’s okay, things happen.

Many a parent has said something along the lines of ‘but tattoos are permanent’ at one stage or another. These days, however, that is no longer true. With the invention of laser some years back, we can now remove our mistakes. This doesn’t mean that it’s quick or easy, though. And if you are thinking about getting a bad tattoo removed, here are some things you should consider first.

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1. Location, location, location

The positioning of your tattoo not only makes a difference when you get it (tramp stamp, anyone?) but it also makes a difference when you want to get it removed. The closer the tattoo is to your heart, the better the circulation, which means better results. The further down your arms and legs the ink is, the trickier it is to get it to fade and you will probably need more sessions to remove it. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Once is not enough

If you think you are going to walk into a laser practitioner’s office with a tattoo and walk out without one, you are sorely mistaken. Most tattoos take anywhere between six to 10 sessions to remove. The downtime between each appointment is four to six weeks to ensure that the skin is healed before the next round of treatment. So if you have an event coming up that requires ink-free skin, you might need to get cracking.

3. Check your expectations

Something that you need to make peace with before you decide to go under the laser, is that you can never be guaranteed that your tattoo will be completely removed. And it’s unlikely that the skin will look as though there had never been anything on it either. Sometimes you will have some faint lines or colour remaining, or you could end up with raised scarring from the removal process. Speak to the pros and go in prepared for any outcome.

4. Know what’s normal, and what’s not

Like most cosmetic procedures, having a tattoo lasered off comes with normal, post-treatment symptoms as well as negative side-effects and it’s important to know the difference. Redness and blisters might seem hectic but are totally normal. Infections, keloid scarring and hypopigmentation, or lightening of the skin, are less desirable but still common side-effects, which you might have to make peace with if you are determined to get rid of a tatt.

5. Prepare yourself for pain

Thought this was going to be an easy process? Think again. Many people who have had both tattoos and laser claim that having the ink removed was a lot more painful than having it done in the first place. This is something worth thinking about not just before you get a tattoo but before you decide you want to get rid of it. Who knows, maybe the barbwire armband will come back in fashion in the very distant future.

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