No matter the reason behind wanting to get your tattoo removed, what everyone really wants to know is how big of a dent it will make in our pockets. Just as the saying a good tattoo isn’t cheap and a cheap tattoo isn’t good applies to the artwork you get done, the same applies to the removal procedure you plan to do.
There are a few factors that influence the cost of tattoo removal, and we’ll help you better understand the financial investment involved in this procedure.
What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
Though there are different procedures available for tattoo removal, the most popular and the least painful is laser tattoo removal.
Rather than using invasive procedures such as surgical removal or dermabrasion, which grinds off the layers of skin in a sandpaper-like manner, the lasers are able to penetrate the skin and effectively destroy the ink, while causing minimal pain to the patient.
It’s a very safe and regulated procedure, and though it may take multiple sessions to remove your ink, it’s truly not a difficult or complicated process and is fairly affordable in most cases. People describe the pain as comparable to being snapped with a rubber band or having a bad sunburn for a few days, so this is far less painful than getting a tattoo.
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?
The laser works in very short but very powerful bursts to break up the ink beneath the layers of skin so that the particles become small enough to be absorbed by your bloodstream. Specific lasers combat specific ink colors, ensuring you are addressing and removing even the darkest of blacks and the lightest of yellows.
The heat from the laser combats the most shallow layers of your ink and then moves down to the deepest layers with each session. Laser tattoo removal may not be able to completely eliminate your tattoo, as minor scarring or lightened ink may remain at the end of all your sessions, but the majority of the pigment will be destroyed.
The skill of your tattoo artist or the intensity of the tattoo itself may influence how much scarring or ink remains where your tattoo once was, though technology is now so advanced that there will be very little damage to your skin during and after these procedures.
What Are The Factors Involved in Laser Tattoo Removal Cost?
Tattoo removal cost varies and is dependent upon a variety of different factors. Estimating your tattoo removal cost should be done with a few things in mind.
The Number Of Sessions Required
Your tattoo removal professional can give you a general idea on how many sessions it will take to remove your tattoo. As mentioned, the laser first combats your most shallow ink before breaking down the ink deeper in your epidermis. There is a healing time required between sessions of six to eight weeks, and the amount of fading that occurs in that time may also influence how many subsequent sessions you will require.
With each session, less work is required and therefore less time is needed by your removal specialist, and so the costs of sessions may also go down in price.
The Size Of Your Tattoo
Beginning with the most obvious factor involved in cost is the size of your tattoo. Though smaller tattoos don’t necessarily take fewer sessions, they will certainly take less time to remove. The more time that a session takes, the higher the cost of that session.
Smaller tattoos generally have less detail and therefore require less complicated removal procedures from your specialist.
The Tattoo Color and Ink Quality
Different laser wavelengths target different ink colors, and some colors are destroyed more quickly and easily than others. For example, blues and greens actually take longer to destroy than blacks or reds.
You should also consider that the quality of ink that your tattoo artist used, as well as their own skill in tattooing, will definitely influence how easy the tattoo will be to remove and how this might influence the cost in both session length and amount. More professional and higher-quality tattoos will take longer to remove.
The Age Of The Tattoo
As you’ve likely noticed on your older tattoos, your ink starts to fade. This is because particles of the tattoo ink become absorbed into your bloodstream and get carried away over time. As such, older tattoos are much easier for laser removal to combat and destroy than new, bright, and potent ink.
The Location Of The Tattoo
The location of the tattoo will impact the cost for a variety of reasons. There are certain areas on our body that are more sensitive to pain and this will impact how long we can sit during each removal session, as well as our healing time between each session. In addition, since the particles of ink are carried away through your bloodstream, areas with greater circulation will require fewer treatments than those with poor circulation such as toes, fingers, and ears.
A healthy immune system not only means you have the ability to heal faster between your sessions, but it also means your body will respond to the procedure more positively and understand the need to eliminate the ink particles as quickly as possible. A medical study even proved that smokers had a reduced clinical response to the tattoo removal process.
Reputable Clinic And Equipment
High-quality laser removal equipment is equipped with multiple laser wavelengths that allow your removal specialist to combat different colors of ink without difficulty. These machines differ from the ones you can buy online and use yourself at home, and they require specializations and certifications to be used in a clinic. They are more powerful and far more efficient.
You should ensure that you do your research into the tattoo removal clinics in your area, and be sure that your removal specialist has the experience and the training necessary to do this procedure. Just as you wouldn’t get a tattoo from any old shop with no evidence of their skill or sanitary measures, you should be just as careful with selecting a clinic.
There are various facilities that offer tattoo removal, such as:
- Dermatologist Clinics
- Medical Spas
- Private Tattoo Removal Clinics
- Tattoo Shops
- Doctor Offices
Read reviews on each location, ask questions about the procedure, and ask about the estimated time and difficulty, not just the cost. Ask them if they have a portfolio of their removal work, which includes before and after photos of patients. Don’t automatically jump on the cheapest option, as this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe or good for your removal needs.
Finally, make sure you are comfortable and trust the specialist you will be working with, as you will likely be spending a few sessions with this person. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself if something seems fishy or unclear.
Keep in mind that popular studios likely have a waiting list, and there may also be a premium charge or an appointment hold charge to get work done in these clinics. Though waitlists don’t guarantee perfect work, it usually means they are a reputable option for your tattoo removal.
Are There Ways To Get Cheaper Tattoo Removal?
Your removal specialist will use something called a Kirby-Desai Scale in order to determine how much your tattoo removal may cost. The spectrum is one to 15, with higher scores meaning the tattoo will be more difficult (or impossible) to remove. This will help specialists have a better understanding of how many sessions you will require, and thereby providing you with an estimate on cost. It is around 80% accurate on both the number of sessions you’ll need and the cost factor.
You may notice that some facilities offer laser removal for a significantly cheaper price than others; this usually means they are using personal-level lasers rather than commercial-quality lasers and the results might be significantly less effective while being just as painful. Be sure to inquire into the machinery being used.
Tattoo removal fees are generally decided by one of these three factors, depending on the facility:
- Cost by inch
- Cost by size category (eg. sleeve, hand, back, etc. )
- A flat rate per removal session
Laser tattoo removal cost, when done with professional equipment, can range from $100 to over $1000 a session, depending on the facility and where your tattoo falls on the Kirby-Desai Scale. Sometimes you can save money on the removal by:
- Paying a flat rate
- Paying a larger upfront cost
- Grouping together sessions, and getting discounts on multiple session bookings
- Referral promotions
- Your company sponsoring your removal (if you are getting tattoos removed for professional reasons)
- Military or student discounts
- Using a payment plan
Like tattoos, you should not skimp on paying more for your tattoo removal. A higher cost usually correlates to a more reputable facility, a more trained and experienced professional, and a more efficient tattoo removal procedure. Poor quality tattoo removal could lead to more pain, and dangerous scarring or blistering following your procedure. In addition, it may amount to more sessions which end up costing you more in the long run.
Our Final Thoughts
The decision to get a tattoo is a life-changing one, and the decision to remove a tattoo is no different. You should take time to research and make careful consideration of which facility you trust with this process. If you want it to be done efficiently and with minimal scarring or pain, you should also be willing to pay a bit more.