Tattoo Removal FAQ

Tattoo Removal FAQ

We've compiled the questions that are most often asked during consultations. We share these below, together with what actual clients say in their reviews.

General

What makes Zapatat different?

We did one thing and did it very well. For nearly 5 years our exclusive focus has been on laser tattoo removal. Now, we have branched out into laser hair removal and skin treatments.  Our passion has evolved from simply wanting to remove tattoos as quickly as possible, to offering simplicity and affordability in all laser treatment options. We want to make your laser treatment a good experience, so we provide a welcoming atmosphere, comfortable environments and a team you can always trust. This client’s Yelp review and update sums it up well:

I went for a consultation and first session 9/14/12 and could not have asked for a better experience. I was quite nervous but they took the time to explain everything to me and showed compassion with my nervousness. It was not pain free, even with numbing cream though the actual treatments were about 10 seconds. I have a very large black tattoo, 5 inches square of solid color. Painful but quick. They explained the aftercare instructions in depth and were very pleasant.

“Update: I have been coming here for almost a year and have had 6 treatments. I have had a great experience.  Getting close to done. This place is super clean, they are truthful and not exaggerating when you ask questions and the staff is great. Gretchen is fantastic and Monica also is great. I almost wish I had more to remove! – B.R

We view possible side effects as unacceptable outcomes and work hard to minimize them. We hire compassionate skin experts and train them for about 2 months on our services. Each team member has experience with over 1,000 treatments and our lead specialist has over 5,000. We continually test lasers and have the best on the market. We develop our own laser protocols, including the R20, using careful testing. We respect your time and offer a convenient location, evening and weekend hours, and short 15-minute visits so that your treatment isn’t time consuming.

How much does tattoo removal cost at Zapatat?

We make laser treatmentsl affordable. Zapatat is one of the few providers that charges only for the measured inked area for tattoo removal. We publish our prices so there is no mystery. Our prices are generally 40 to 60 percent less than any legitimate competitor (see “Pricing.") That said, you should not decide purely on price. Providers who match our published prices generally charge based on the tattoo’s overall size, use inferior lasers, are not medically supervised, and/or are trying to up-sell you. Many higher priced providers don’t have much client volume or experience. Either way, it will cost you more, will take longer and will increase risk of skin damage. One client says it best on Yelp:

“Clean office, knowledgeable and friendly staff, GREAT pricing. Was quoted almost TRIPLE the cost at Centers for Laser Surgery in DC. I got some work done there before and they scarred me and the tats barely faded. I can already see results on my arm from Zapatat. Been to a bunch of laser centers in the area, this one is the best. Great deal for great service. The laser was quicker than others I've experienced as well which is always nice since it's pretty much agony. People who don't say they see any results, GIVE IT TIME! It's not going to happen in a day or a week. I've been through this several times, the first shot is to open it up. You will not see a lot of fading. The second time you will notice more. This is a major process, takes a good 10 times to get stuff out for most average tats. Give your skin time to adjust, it'll work. It's not like everything else in your life that you can just give a quick fix to and be done with it.” – C.L.

Does Zapatat do anything other than tattoo removal?

Until 2016, our center only offered tattoo removal, completing well over 11,000 treatments. By popular request, we have begun performing hair removal treatments, laser facials and skin pigmentation correction treatments. We are constantly looking for improvements in laser technologies and techniques to always give the best service for every treatment type we offer.

Can I come in after work or on weekends?

Yes! We are open weekends and on certain evenings. 

Do I have to pre-pay for my removal?

No! We don’t ask you to pre-pay for anything at Zapatat. We offer discount packages that are refundable. We do ask for deposits for ARTSM R20 appointments because of the time we have to reserve for you.

Tattoo Removal

Does Zapatat offer “pain free” tattoo removal?

No laser can give a pain free treatment because what you feel is the ink heating and breaking. We don’t offer “painless” tattoo removal for several reasons. Painless tattoo removal requires many small injections that you may find worse than the treatment itself. There is evidence that injected anesthetics lessen the laser's effectiveness by reflecting or scattering the laser beam. Finally, injected anesthetics are long lasting and lessen the likelihood that you will do the immediate aftercare that is necessary in minimizing side effects.

How many tattoo removal treatments will I need?

Zapatat’s lasers and techniques produce the best results with the fewest possible treatments. Conventional treatments require between 8 and 15 treatments with an average of 10. The ARTSM R20 requires only 3-8 visits. The number of treatments your tattoo will require depends on several factors including its age, placement, density, as well as your physical condition and lifestyle. No two people or two tattoos are the same.

Will my skin be damaged?

Skin damage is highly unlikely at Zapatat. Our side effect rate is extremely low even though we treat the most challenging skin-types and tattoos. Our goal is to remove your tattoo and keep your skin undamaged. Some people worry about getting scars, or about having their skin whitened or darkened. Zapatat never scars and skin whitening or darkening is rare and/or transient. We accomplish this through our skin expertise, our in-house training, our experienced laser techs and by using the right lasers. We use up to date nd:YAG lasers and a 1064nm frequency. That is the safest most gentle frequency and can be used on all skin colors with very low risk of side effects. Because dark ink responds to 1064nm we think it should always be the “go-to” laser frequency. We switch frequencies only as needed to remove colored ink. Even then we take care to minimize side effects. People who are African-American, Asian, Hispanic or of Mediterranean descent should avoid Alexandrite and Ruby lasers.

Does laser tattoo removal work on dark or black skin?

Yes, if the right laser is used by a good operator. About half our clients have darker skin-types so we have a lot of experience. African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and people of Mediterranean descent or others with pigmented skin need to be careful about choosing the right laser and operator. For those with darker skin types only the nd:YAG 1064nm laser is completely safe because that frequency isn’t well absorbed by skin pigmentation (melanin). Lasers with other frequencies such as the Alexandrite (755nm) and Ruby (650nm) destroy melanin and can cause bleaching or darkening of your skin that can be permanent. Here is Yelp feedback on this topic:

"I've visited the Arlington location for 4 treatments. My initial fear was my skin complexion. Being African American I thought it would cause scabbing that would look worse and appear darker than the tattoo I was removing but actually it turned out very well. The most damage was some swelling. 

I love them! They recommended 10 sessions and after the 4th it's nearly gone. Moreover, the price is beyond competitive.” - S.M.

How does laser tattoo removal work?

Laser tattoo removal employs the Principal of Selective Photo Thermolysis. The laser generates high-energy, nanosecond bursts of single frequency light energy that is highly absorbed by ink particles. The ink heats and cools rapidly causing expand and contract (vibrate) and shatter. The ink fragments are small enough to be absorbed and removed by your immune system. The surrounding skin is left unharmed.

What does tattoo removal feel like?

Most clients describe laser treatments like rubber bands slapping against the skin. The sensation and intensity can vary from person to person and can depend on the tattoo’s location. Women generally tolerate treatment more easily than men but they also tend to have smaller tattoos. The treatment is over quickly and it’s very rare that a person doesn’t tolerate it. Thanks to our advanced lasers and skilled specialists, the treatment is usually 3 to 10 seconds of laser time. Inferior lasers take 20-30 minutes and cause a lot of pain and skin injury. The laser sensation lessens as treatments progress. We use cryo-cooled air to reduce sensation by half and provide topical numbing for very sensitive clients or large tattoos and R20s.

What should I expect after tattoo removal treatment?

We will talk about after care several times because it’s so important. After the treatment we will cover the tattoo site with sterile petroleum jelly, a breathable dressing and will give you some cold packs. You won’t feel pain but will feel heat and then sunburn for a day or two. Some people will experience itching. Only some people will get blistering or scabbing. Either way is normal. It’s important that you leave blisters and scabs alone. Do not pop or pick them. We will gladly drain a blister if it is bothering you. Do not be concerned if you do not get blistering or scabbing. You may or may not see immediate results but the fading will mostly happen over time. Heavily inked tattoos may not show visible fading after the first one or two conventional treatments even though it is working.

Should I choose the ARTSM or conventional laser tattoo removal treatments?

It’s up to you. Both conventional and the ARTSM (advanced R20) work well but ARTSM provides faster results in half the total time and half the visits. Both are safe on any skin-type and work on colored tattoos. Zapatat has completed over 1,000 ARTSM (advanced R20) sessions and is the world leader by a very wide margin. The total time to remove will depend on the ink density, location on your body and your fitness level. Higher density areas take longer while shading disappears in one treatment. ARTSM is ideal for people in a hurry, who are doing cover-ups and for those who want to minimize visits and can afford the higher up-front cost. This Yelp review describes the experience.

Today I made my first visit to Zapatat to remove a tattoo I've only had a year a half. The first thing I noticed was the modernity of the office and how friendly the staff was. After a quick consultation, I decided to move forward with the R20 treatment as I am trying to have my tattoo removed by a deadline. The initial reaction I had to the laser was surprising, but it hurt no more than the tattoo itself did. After the laser passed through the third time it no longer hurt and the fourth pass I couldn't feel at all. My tattoo is very dark and I am African American, but I definitely saw fading. I will post before and after pictures when I go back in October. Super excited to work with the Zapatat staff. They're very professional, knowledgeable and I felt so at ease in their office. I also talked to the owner who was delightful. If you're looking for a clean facility and want to work with people who know what they're doing, I suggest Zapatat! –R.D

Who else does R20 tattoo removal?

Although many say they can do it, very few have successfully done a single R20. No one comes close to our level of experience and expertise. R20 is a concept, not a textbook method. ARTSM took time and testing to develop the treatment protocols and to do it right. We have completed over 1,000 fast removal ARTSM R20s and have refined it to a very high level. Our ARTSM fast removal technique removes tattoos in half of the time and treatments compared to conventional treatments.

How does ARTSM R20 compare with the Picosure?

We don't use Picosure because of its high incidence of side effects and its limited applications. Our ARTSM R20 has better results without the increased side effects Picosure's laser frequency. Unlike Picosure, ARTSM is safe on all skin-types and excels on black and red ink as well as green and blue.

Why do you stress aftercare?

Good aftercare minimizes side effects and boosts treatment effectiveness. That’s why we give you so many verbal and written instructions and are always available to answer your questions anytime after your treatments. It’s one reason we ask if we can call you a day or two after your first treatment. You want to eliminate skin irritation and enhance recovery from the laser treatment. You also want to eliminate any chance of infection. Since the laser is sterile you should neither need or should not use antibiotic ointments. Neosporin and Bacatracin can cause unwanted skin reactions! Our specialists will instruct you about aftercare and will provide written instructions. We can provide you with an aftercare kit for a nominal charge. Please follow our aftercare instructions exactly.

How long is an appointment?

Your first appointment will generally be one hour including paperwork, consultation and treatment. Follow-up treatment appointments will take 15 minutes or less. The ARTSM R20 will take between one and three hours. We do not double book appointments so there is seldom any waiting.

How often can I get treated?

We recommend intervals that will minimize cost, safety and effectiveness. Conventional treatments are generally at 6-8 week intervals between treatments and 8-12 for ARTSM R20's. Shortening the time will not result in faster removal and will increase risk of side effects. We will specify the waiting period after each treatment depending on how you are responding.

Here are progress photos of real Zapatat clients (not stock pictures most use). Note how good the skin looks and the great results from our ARTSM sessions.

How laser tattoo removal works and what to look for in considering tattoo removal and a provider.

Don't worry, (be informed). The truth about tattoo removal myths, nightmares and common misconceptions.