How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 8, 2019
    Last Updated: November 26, 2020

Although most people want their tattoos to last forever sometimes tattoos can be a reminder of some bad choices, a bad period of life, or a bad memory. And sometimes as people get older and change they just want that artwork gone.

Some people may also decide to pursue a career path in which tattoos are not allowed. Laser tattoo removal is an effective way to remove a tattoo that you no longer want. If you want to get a tattoo covered up you should still consider getting laser tattoo removal to lighten the original tattoo before getting a cover up tattoo.

What Is Laser Tattoo Removal?

Laser tattoo removal is a process that removes the ink from the skin using small lasers. Laser tattoo removal became the most popular method of tattoo removal during the 1990s thanks to the development of new lasers that were able to remove tattoos more effectively and with less damage than previous lasers.

Before the use of lasers to remove tattoos there were methods to remove tattoos but they were often painful and could use skin damage and scarring. Acids and other harsh substances were used to basically remove several layers of skin, including the layer where the ink was sitting.

Now that there are modern lasers that are safe and easy to use it’s not as difficult to remove a tattoo. That’s a relief for people who no longer want to have a bad generic flash tattoo or  would like to forget about that tattoo they got to impress a romantic interest. Laser tattoo removal is very safe and effective, and for most people it’s fairly affordable. Unfortunately, it can still be quite painful.

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

Modern tattoo removal is done with specialized lasers. There are different types of lasers that are used for different colored inks. Each laser targets the ink in the skin and breaks it down into tiny particles that are released into the body. The body’s natural immune system fights off the ink particles and they are harmlessly disposed of by the body.

Different colored inks have different properties, which is why specialized lasers need to be used for each color used in the tattoo. Darker inks like blacks and blues are easier to break down than heavily pigmented inks or pastel inks. So often people who want to remove a black tattoo will notice that the tattoo disappears pretty quickly with the right laser treatment.

Tattoo Removal Cost

If you are trying to get rid of a large multi-colored tattoo that could be more difficult. Some tattoos never really break down but they do fade enough so that they are not noticeable or are faded enough that they can be covered over.

What Are The Factors Involved In Laser Tattoo Removal Cost?

Tattoo removal cost is something that everyone wants to know when they are researching laser tattoo removal. But the cost depends on several different factors. The cost can be minimal for removing a small black tattoo or it can be quite a lot to remove a large colored tattoo. Some of the factors that influence how much tattoo removal costs include:

Amount Of Sessions Required

It’s almost impossible for a clinician to tell you in advance how many sessions that you’re going to need in order to remove the tattoo. It will always take multiple sessions to remove a tattoo, usually with 6-8 weeks between sessions. After a laser removal session, your skin needs time to heal before another session with the laser.

During that time the tattoo may fade enough that you just need one more session. Or you might need many more sessions.

How many sessions you need to remove the tattoo depends on the depth of the ink, the quality of the tattoo, the location of the tattoo, and the texture of your skin. So while an expert in laser tattoo removal may be able to give you an estimate of how many sessions you’re going to need to remove a tattoo plan on it taking at least two sessions. Probably more if the tattoo is large or colored.

Size Of The Tattoo

This one should be a no-brainer. A small tattoo is going to be easier to remove than a large tattoo. And a tattoo that doesn’t have a lot of detail will break down a lot faster than one that is very intricate and has a lot of fine lines or shading.

If you’re thinking of having a small tattoo removed it’s probably not going to take more than a couple of sessions to break it down and the cost will be lower because of the small size of the tattoo. But if you’re planning on having a large tattoo removed, like a full sleeve or a back piece, that will take many sessions with a long healing time in between each one.

It’s not a fast process to remove large or detailed tattoos.

Tattoo Color/Boldness

The color of the tattoo plays a large role in determining the cost of the removal. Black and dark inks break down pretty quickly so removing a dark tattoo won’t cost that much. And getting colored tattoos removed means using several different lasers and more treatments so that will obviously cost more.

But how the tattoo was applied will also have an impact on how difficult it is to remove. If you had a tattoo done by someone that was inexperienced or not a professional tattoo artist the lines may be uneven but the ink probably wasn’t deposited very deep into the skin and they probably didn’t use a very dense professional quality ink.

That may be why you want to get it removed. The good news is that those types of tattoos are very easy to remove. A high-quality tattoo done by a tattoo professional is usually deeper in the skin and has more dense ink which can make it more difficult to remove that tattoo or get it to fade.

Tattoo Location

Where the tattoo is on the body makes a difference in the cost because the location of the tattoo will affect how well the laser will work. Tattoos that are in areas where the skin is very thin are harder to remove than tattoos on areas of the body where the skin is thick. And the proximity of the tattoo to the heart is a factor as well.

Areas of the body that are near the heart will heal faster from the use of the laser because there is better circulation. The circulatory system is what carries the ink away and helps your skin heal by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells.

The further away the location of the tattoo is from the heart the longer it will take to heal. So a tattoo on the chest or back will be easier to remove than a tattoo on the ankle or foot. Ankle, leg and foot tattoos are difficult to remove because they usually have poor circulation.

Laser Equipment Used

The lasers that are used for tattoo removal are called Q lasers. A different laser is used for each color that is in the tattoo. The lasers are perfectly calibrated to break down the pigment depending on the reflectivity and density of the color.

Different Q lasers have different colors that are designed to essentially break the pigmented ink. So in one tattoo removal session your doctor might use a laser designed to target black ink but in the next session use one that is designed to break down blue ink. You may need multiple sessions with individual lasers depending on the tattoo that you want to have removed.

Studio Location

The location of the tattoo removal studio will also impact the price. You should always use a reputable doctor and studio that have years of experience doing laser tattoo removal. As you know, you should never get a tattoo from someone that doesn’t have the training and experience to do it safely. And you should never get a tattoo removed by anyone that doesn’t have the experience and education to do that safely either.

When you’re looking at potential tattoo removal studios take your time and look carefully. Get word of mouth referrals from friends and family. And make initial consultation appointments at several studios in the area before committing to treatment at one. An initial consultation is usually free or very inexpensive.

When you’re at a consultation you will have the chance to meet the clinicians and talk to them one on one to see if they treat you well and you are comfortable with them.

Ask to see a before and after portfolio. Every reputable studio will have one and they should be glad to show it to you. If they can’t show you examples of the work they’ve done that is not a place you should get your tattoo removed.

When you visit the studio be sure to look closely at it. Is the studio clean? Are the people who work there friendly and professional? If not, look for another studio. Ask to see the credentials of the doctors or clinicians that are going to be doing the removal.

After you have visited several studios you’ll know which one you felt the most comfortable with. Choose that one. But keep in mind that the best studios are probably going to be the most expensive. However, tattoo removal is not a procedure where you want to cut corners. You have to pay for experience and results.

Studio Popularity

The best tattoo removal studios in the area may have a waiting list. And you might end up paying more to be seen there because there are a lot of people that want to have their tattoos removed by the clinicians at that studio. Even though paying more is no fun it’s a good sign if they are so busy that they need to charge a premium in order to guarantee an appointment. That means that they do quality work and that they are in high demand.

Are There Ways To Get Cheaper Tattoo Removal?

There are some things that you can cut corners on in order to save a little money. Getting a tattoo isn’t one of them, and neither is getting a tattoo removed. You do have to pay for experience, safety and quality. So when you start to think about getting laser tattoo removal, keep in mind that it’s better to pay higher prices and work with an experienced and highly trained clinician in order to make sure that you don’t end up with permanent skin damage.

Laser tattoo removal can be painful and gruesome

But there are some ways in which you can reduce the cost of the laser tattoo removal or save money while still getting the laser tattoo removal that you want. Some studios will offer a discount on multiple sessions if you buy them as a block. Other studios may offer discounts for people that employed in certain fields and cannot have tattoos.  Always ask at the studio if they have any kind of discounts or payment plans to make it easier to afford the laser tattoo removal that you want.

Some studios may offer alternative types of tattoo removal that don’t use lasers so they are less expensive. They’re less expensive for a reason – because they aren’t as effective as laser tattoo removal. So if you want the tattoo totally removed or as close to full removal as possible you will need to invest in laser tattoo removal. But if you just want the tattoo to fade a bit so that you can get a cover-up tattoo then a less expensive non-laser treatment might be a good way for you to save some money but still get the result that you want.

Tattoo Removal Can Be Life-Changing

Laser tattoo removal isn’t easy, quick or cheap, but it can be life-changing if your life is being impacted negatively by the tattoo. You can’t put a price on your peace of mind, or putting a chapter of your life behind you, or getting a fresh start.

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