We are developing a label-free nanoscale photoacoustic tomography (nPAT) for imaging a single living cell. nPAT uses a laser-induced acoustic pulse to generate a nanometer-scale image. The primary motivation behind this imaging technique is the imaging of biological cells in the context of diagnosis without fluorescent tagging. During this procedure, thermal damage due to the laser pulse is a potential risk that may damage the cells. A physical model is built to estimate the temperature rise and thermal relaxation during the imaging procedure. Through simulations using finite element methods, two lasers (532 nm at 5 ps pulse duration and 830 nm at 0.2 ps pulse duration) were simulated for imaging red blood cells (RBCs). We demonstrate that a single 5-ps pulse laser with a 400-Hz repetition rate will generate a steady state temperature rise of less than a Kelvin on the surface of the RBCs. All the simulation results show that there is no significant temperature rise in an RBC in either single pulse or multiple pulse illumination with a 532-nm laser with 219 W fluence. Therefore, our simulation results demonstrate the thermal safety of an nPAT system. The photoacoustic signal generated by this laser is on the order of 2.5 kPa, so it should still be large enough to generate high-resolution images with nPAT. Frequency analysis of this signal shows a peak at 1.47 GHz, with frequencies as high as 3.5 GHz still being present in the spectrum. We believe that nPAT will open an avenue for disease diagnosis and cell biology studies at the nanometer-level.