Abstract Recovery of a flat tungsten surface from a nano-tendril surface is attempted through three techniques; a mechanical wipe, a 1673 K annealing, and laser-induced thermal transients. Results were determined through SEM imaging and elastic recoil detection to assess the helium content in the surface. The mechanical wipe leaves a ∼0.5 μm deep layer of nano-tendrils on the surface post-wipe regardless of the initial nano-tendril layer depth. Laser-induced thermal transients only significantly impact the surface morphology at heat loads of 35.2 MJ/m2 s1/2 or above, however a fully flat or recovered surface was not achieved for 100 transients at this heat load despite reducing the helium content by a factor of ∼7. A 1673 K annealing removes all detectable levels of helium but sub-surface voids/bubbles remain intact. The surface is recovered to a nearly flat state with only some remnants of nano-tendrils re-integrating into the surface remaining.