There are a number of reasons why you may want to get a tattoo removed: It may no longer hold sentimental value, may no longer align with your own ideals, or perhaps it’s holding you back from a new position.
Whatever your reason for wanting to remove a tattoo, laser tattoo removal is the most popular option.
What is laser tattoo removal?
Laser tattoo removal has an established reputation for being the only permanent way to remove unwanted tattoos.
The technology behind the process allows a dermatologist, plastic surgery practice, or med spa to remove most tattoos with minimal effort or pain.
In a classic spin on the chicken or egg conundrum, you’re probably wondering: What hurts more, getting a tattoo or removing it?
And the answer is that getting a tattoo hurts far more than getting it removed does.
And if the tattoo once held sentimental value for you, it may also be emotionally relieving to see that it and whatever it represented is finally becoming a thing of the past.
Depending upon the characteristics of your specific tattoo, laser tattoo removal can take a few sessions to fully remove it.
Factors that go into whether a tattoo can actually be completely and successfully removed with laser tattoo removal include:
- The age of the tattoo
- The saturation of the tattoo
- The size of the tattoo
- The colors of ink used in the tatoo
- The location of the tattoo
Black and dark green tattoos are the easiest to remove, while purples, some shades of blue, and fluorescent tattoo inks are the hardest to remove.
Laser Tattoo Removal Benefits:
Here are a few of the benefits of undergoing a laser treatment for the removal of unwanted tattoos:
a. Faster Sessions
A laser tattoo removal session should last no longer than 30 minutes. You’ll likely be scheduled for a new treatment session every six to eight weeks, depending upon your individual situation. This time span between treatments gives your skin time to heal before your next session and avoid complications like scars.
b. Fewer Treatments
Most people only need about three to seven treatment sessions to completely remove an unwanted tattoo. Factors like those mentioned above go into how many sessions are needed. The amount that you would need will be discussed during your consultation.
c. Fewer Side Effects
If you undergo a laser tattoo removal session, you can expect little, if any, scarring at the site of the tattoo or surrounding skin. Other methods like surgical removal and dermabrasion have an increased risk of causing scars when compared to laser treatments.
How Laser Tattoo Removal Works
The mechanism behind laser tattoo removal involves the use of a safe laser that targets darker pigments, like those of tattoos, breaking the tattoo into smaller pieces that can be disposed of by your immune system. Laser systems help minimize complications like infection, bleeding and permanent scars.
When you undergo a laser tattoo removal treatment, your practitioner will be targeting the darker pigments in your skin with a laser that emits intense waves of light in short pulses.
Another benefit of laser tattoo removal is that it provides a greater degree of precision. The laser only targets the darker pigments in your tattoo, leaving surrounding skin tissue unaffected. It allows for the safe removal of even the most stubborn types of ink, with little to no thermal skin damage.
Laser Tattoo Removal Cost
Laser tattoo removal may cost as little as $423 (the average U.S. physician’s fee for it in 2020), or as much as $4,000 if the tattoo is very large, detailed, and includes light ink colors that aren’t easily removed by the device (and which thus require more passings of the laser to remove or, possibly, the use of certain more unique laser devices).
Laser tattoo removal is available at a wide range of possible price points.
Since tattoos are so unique and may be any number of sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns, providers price the service only after doing an in-person consultation with a patient. As a general rule of thumb, large and well established plastic surgery practices tend to price the service slightly higher than most med spas.
The final price paid for laser tattoo removal will come down mostly to the size of the tattoo requiring removal, and a few other factors, such as:
- Its location: Ultimately, your body’s own natural processes and blood circulation will remove tattoos broken up by the laser. Tattoos located in areas of lower circulation, like the hands, feet, and face, are harder to remove than those on the arms and chest, for example.
- Its ink density and its age: Ink density eventually decreases, making older tattoos easier to remove than new ones.
- Its colors: Though lasers can remove many of the most commonly used colors of ink, some are harder to remove than others, including light green, yellow and turquoise.
Laser Tattoo Removal Recovery
As there are different types of laser devices used to remove tattoos, your specific recovery and healing time will vary.
It is normal to experience the following temporary effects after a laser tattoo removal session:
- Temporary soreness
These side effects tend to be worst after one’s first removal session, and to get more and more familiar and bearable as subsequent sessions are done.
a. First 24 Hours
Your skin may feel as if you have a minor sunburn, and you may notice some bruising. Some colors of ink can result in mild blistering.
Most people find that the sunburn sensation fades quickly within a few hours. You’ll still need some recovery time between treatment sessions so that your tattoo can be completely removed.
Immediately after your treatment, you can resume normal activities like exercising and showering.
Your provider may place a thin dressing over your skin to protect it. It can be removed after a few hours.
b. First Three Days
Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure and exposure to heat for the next few days.
c. Six to Eight Weeks
Your skin should be fully healed by now. If everything has gone as expected, you can go ahead and schedule another laser tattoo removal treatment session at this time.