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Using nitrous oxide for pain relief during tattoo removal

Using nitrous oxide for pain relief during tattoo removal
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Nitrous oxide is being touted as a pain-management solution during laser tattoo removal treatments, being safe and effective for those who can’t have pain managed with injections or topical numbing.

Use of nitrous oxide during tattoo removal processes, particularly for those with large tattoos like sleeves or large back tattoos, can allow the whole tattoo to be treated in one session. Usually, there is a comfort threshold that is hit in terms of what can be managed during a session. Some people can’t tolerate longer tattoo removal sessions, and must have more frequent, shorter sessions. Nitrous oxide could elongate the tattoo removal tolerance factor.

When put to the test, nitrous oxide use ensured dramatically better outcomes in pain when compared with topical or injected anaesthetics for tattoo removal. Injectable anaesthetic plus topical applications are used with success on smaller tattoos, but when it comes to larger tattoos, nitrous oxide has proved a clear winner.

Nitrous oxide is not without its challenges however – there is extra time and monitoring that comes along with the its use, plus more cumbersome equipment that must be purchased and maintained. The time your appointments take will be longer when using nitrous oxide. You need to be watched by a nurse, and your pulse and heart rate are monitored. It also takes up to five minutes to get the nitrous oxide to the perfect level.

Tattoo removal can be quite painful, though new advances in lasers means half the time and less pain due to the way the lasers work – with the right laser. Some people feel like getting the tattoo was less painful than having it taken away. Normally topical cream has been used, with injections where required, with good tolerance levels, but we can always improve. Some clinics use a cold-air blower, but this is not that effective and only helps a little.

In a tattoo removal pain study, when asked to rate their pain between 1-10, 10 being the most painful, the average pain rating for tattoo removal was:

  • Topical lidocaine cream – 9.1
  • Lidocaine injection – 5.4
  • Topical lidocaine and prilocaine cream – 6.8
  • Lidocaine injection and topical lidocaine and prilocaine creams – 3.6
  • Nitrous oxide alone – 2.6

The benefits of using nitrous oxide are that you can still drive yourself home after appointments, unlike other sedation-based anaesthetics. You are sedated, but breathing on your own when using nitrous oxide, like you are asleep. As soon as the nitrous oxide is withdrawn, you wake up.

Additionally, only qualified, trained practitioners can administer nitrous oxide, which means most Melbourne tattoo removal clinics cannot use it. At ENRICH’s Melbourne clinic, all our practitioners are either doctors or nurses and are fully qualified to administer nitrous oxide.

We also have one of just three picosecond lasers in Australia, one of the very best tattoo removal lasers in the world.

Laser tattoo removal is still a craft that is evolving as our technology improves, so expect pain-free tattoo removal in the future. For the time being, we do what we can!

We have the most comfortable, fast tattoo removal laser in Australia.
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