Laser tattoo removal is uncomfortable - many patients say it is worse than getting the tattoo. The pain is often described to be similar to that of hot oil on the skin, or a "snap" from an elastic band. Depending on the patient's pain threshold, and while some patients may forgo anesthesia altogether, most patients will require some form of local anesthesia. Pre-treatment might include the application of an anesthetic cream under occlusion for 45 to 90 minutes or cooling by ice or cold air prior to the laser treatment session. A better method is complete anesthesia which can be administered locally by injections of 1% to 2% lidocaine with epinephrine.
Although laser treatment is well known and often used to remove tattoos, unwanted side effects of laser tattoo removal include the possibility of discoloration of the skin such as hypopigmentation (white spots, more common in darker skin) and hyperpigmentation (dark spots) as well as textural changes - these changes are usually not permanent when the Nd:YAG is used but it is much more likely with the use of the 755 nm Alexandrite, the 694 nm Ruby and the R20 method. Very rarely, burns may result in scarring but this usually only occurs when patients don't care for the treated area properly. Occasionally, "paradoxical darkening" of a tattoo may occur, when a treated tattoo becomes darker instead of lighter. This occurs most often with white ink, flesh tones, pink, and cosmetic make-up tattoos.
Getting a sleeve tattoo is a big investment in terms of both cost and hours spent a chair. For this reason a lot of guys go in to add one or two small tattoos from time to time while tying it all together with a matching background. Another approach is to take on the entire sleeve at once, which means more cash upfront and longer hours at a time. If you have the money and both you and your artist have the time, go for it. Otherwise, have patience knowing that eventually your sleeve will be complete and looking awesome.
But other than that possible health benefit, tattoos are just downright awesome, especially ones that cover a lot of skin like a sleeve does. It provides the most personal and artistic expression, just due to its massive size. Plus, a tattoo sleeve takes multiple tattoo sessions, so there is plenty of time to get used to and fall in love with a new design.
More people than you think might expect to spend their daily lives deconstructing the visual world according to spatial relationships and simplified shapes. Architects, engineers, and graphic designers; game designers, photographers, and event coordinators; archaeologists, mathematicians, and scientists — all of these professions and more utilize basic geometry (and often, the golden ratio, despite its aesthetic purity coming under speculation) daily to categorize, design, and contribute to the world around them. Truth is, you visualize the world this way, whether or not you're conscious of it. So, if you're drawn to the way tattoo artists pay homage to nature and mathematics, there's good reason for it. And don't worry, you're not alone.