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Laser Tattoo Removal before a Cover-Up Tattoo: Is it worth it?

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People change their minds about their tattoos for all sorts of reasons and want to either get rid of it completely or fade it for a cover-up. For a lot of people the love of tattoos remains strong even if they do not like the original design they chose many years ago, so having a cover-up rather than complete removal is preferable.

But this can be a tricky process to get right – not all tattoos lend themselves to being turned into something different, and it takes a great artist to do a great job.

One thing that can do a lot to help is having the original tattoo faded with laser tattoo removal. If the desire is not to remove it completely but to fade the darkest or most troublesome areas in order to get a cover-up then this can be a really cost-effective and sensible way to achieve exactly what is wanted with the new work of art.


Before doing anything you will need to know what you want your new tattoo to look like and how it will work with your existing tattoo, so you need to have a good chat with your tattoo artist about what will be done. You can then go for laser tattoo removal to deal with the bits that need to be faded.

Is laser tattoo removal really necessary when I am going to have a cover-up tattoo?

In many cases where the original tattoo is particularly dark or has bled over the years you may need to have areas treated by laser to make the skin workable with a new, more detailed design. If you don’t then your new ink could end up lacking definition.

Your tattoo artist will know what will help your new piece look great – listen to their advice. It will cost you more to have the laser removal and then the cover up, but the result will be so much better.

How many sessions will I need?

This will depend on the area being worked and how dark the pigment is – the larger and more ink used then the more sessions usually needed. Having said that, because the tattoo is only being faded to make it re-workable, you won’t need as many sessions as if it was being removed completely.

Laser tattoo removal with the PicoSure laser requires fewer sessions than traditional lasers as it’s patented PressureWave impact shatters the ink particles to a much greater extent meaning that they are more easily disposed of by the body.

A gap of six to eight weeks is required between sessions so make sure you take this into account when planning a cover up tattoo.

Does laser tattoo removal hurt like getting a tattoo?

Many of our clients report that the pain sensation from the PicoSure laser is the same or less than getting a tattoo inked. The best way to describe the sensation is to imagine an elastic band being pinged against your skin. So whilst not painless, it’s much quicker than getting a new tattoo. For a more detailed explanation read this blog post.

Are there any specific risks to laser tattoo removal before a cover-up?

You should always take the advice of the laser tattoo removal expert and tattoo artist. They will let you know how long you have to wait between removal sessions, how to care for your skin, what kind of results you can expect and how long after removal is complete to go for your first session for your new ink.

Really, is it worth it?

We think so, yes! If you have a really old and small tattoo that is so faded you can hardly see it and you are covering it up with a big black tribal piece then you might not bother with laser removal beforehand. But in most cover-up cases there is a lot of ink pigment remaining, and the design of the original can massively restrict what can be done with the cover-up.

To ensure you are truly happy with your new tattoo for years to come it is best to do away with as much of the old one as possible, and you can do this quickly and effectively thanks to PicoSure.

If you love tattoos then you will know the importance of getting them just right. If you missed the mark with your existing tattoo, be sure to do all you can to get it perfect the next time just like out first PicoSure client did here.

Andrea Catton

Andrea has over over 40 years experience delivering beauty and skin care treatments and has over 20 years laser experience. Regarded as the number one PicoSure laser technician in the UK, Andrea is trained and qualified to use Aculight HR IPL, Chromolite IPL, N-Lite laser, Ellipse, Episoft MD IPL, ADL Sapphire Nd:YAG, RevLite & PicoSure. Andrea is also a member of the British Institute & Association of Electrolysis, British Medical Laser Association and is fully qualified to teach IPL & laser hair removal.

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3 Responses to “Laser Tattoo Removal before a Cover-Up Tattoo: Is it worth it?”

  1. Tina Lilly

    wrong as I have been told even though my tattoo is old and green with red roses….lady pirates and told me this
    It will have to be reasonably dark but will shade out to the lighter colours. plus water colours ..so if this helps anyone? go to them in leigh


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