Laser Tattoo Removal

Quick Summary
Laser Tattoo Removal
Procedure Length
Approx 10-30 minutes per session. Sessions are usually spaced six to eight weeks apart
Topical anesthetic
Types of Lasers
Q-switched laser, Nd: YAG laser and Ruby laser
Type of Specialist
Dermatologist, plastic surgeon.
Recovery Time
Patients can return to work immediately. The treated area may take 1-2 weeks to heal.
Final Appearance
It depends on tattoo (ie color, depth, etc). Final results can be see after 1-10 treatment sessions.
Duration of Results
Average Cost
$200 to $500 per treatment session

What is laser tattoo removal?

It is reported that 1 out of 4 people that get tattoos eventually regret them. Laser tattoo removal is a cosmetic procedure that doesn’t require any surgery. Instead, it uses advanced laser technology to lighten or completely get rid of tattoos you no longer want. It’s highly regarded as one of the safest ways to remove tattoos, minimizing any noticeable scarring. During the procedure, a powerful laser beam is focused on the tattooed skin, breaking down the tattoo ink into tiny pieces. Over time, your body naturally flushes out these smaller ink fragments, leading to the gradual fading or complete removal of the tattoo.

Cost of laser tattoo removal

The cost of laser tattoo removal can range from $200 to $500 for each treatment session. Below is the average cost based on the size of the tattoo:

  1. Small Tattoo (1 to 2 Square Inches): $200 and $300 per session.
  2. Medium Tattoo (3 to 6 Square Inches): $200 to $500 per session.
  3. Large Tattoo: $500 to $1,500 per session, depending on their size and complexity.

It’s important to keep in mind that multiple sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results. On average, most individuals require anywhere from 5 to 15 sessions to attain the desired results.

Factors affecting the cost of treatment

The total cost of laser tattoo treatments can depend on several factors, such as:

  • Tattoo Size: How big your tattoo is a major factor in determining the overall cost.
  • Complexity of Tattoo: Tattoos that have complicated designs, shading, or lots of colors might need more sessions and special techniques to get rid of them properly.
  • Ink Color: Dark colors like black or dark blue are usually easier to remove, but lighter colors like green, yellow, or fluorescent colors can be trickier.
  • Tattoo Age: Older tattoos tend to fade a bit, which can make them easier to remove compared to fresh and bold tattoos.
  • Tattoo Location: Where your tattoo is on your body can also make a difference. Tattoos in sensitive or hard-to-reach places, like your face or hands, might need special care or techniques.
  • Number of Sessions: The number of sessions can vary based on things like how big your tattoo is, what colors are in it, and how your skin responds to the treatment.

To get an accurate quote, set up a consultation with a qualified laser tattoo removal provider such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. They can take a look at your tattoo and give you a precise estimate based on your unique situation.

Are you a candidate?

Laser Tattoo RemovalA good candidate for laser tattoo removal is someone who has a healthy immune system and is patient. In many cases, laser tattoo removal can take multiple treatments, so it is important to have realistic expectations of what it can do. Treatment should not be given to anyone with:

  • Active skin inflammation such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Active warts or herpes
  • Any other active disease that can slow healing
  • Pregnant or nursing

Before getting the procedure done, you will be asked about your medical history, the medications you currently take, previous surgeries, drug allergies and if you have had a history of scarring.

You might also need to provide information about the tattoo such as the colors of the ink and whether the tattoo was done by a professional or an amateur. The answers to these questions will determine how many treatments you will need.

How does it work?

Tattoos consist of many large particles of ink that are too big for your immune system to naturally remove from the body. Laser tattoo removal works by emitting a light of a certain wavelength that targets the ink pigment. The pigment absorbs the light and converts it into heat energy that fractures the ink particles into smaller fragments. The smaller fragments can then be more easily eliminated by the body.

Types of lasers

  • Q-switched laser: A laser called the Q-switched laser is the most popular for treatment because of its high intensity and short pulses of light. This allows it to be more powerful and effective, while also resulting in less damage to surrounding skin because of its shorter contact time. Different types of Q-switched lasers emit light of different wavelengths. The type of laser used depends on your tattoo color and skin type. In some cases, many lasers need to be used if the tattoo contains many colors.
  • Nd: YAG laser: The Nd: YAG laser is the most often used Q-switched laser because it can treat many dark ink colors, such as black, blue, green and violet and also many light colors, such as red, orange, yellow and pink. It is also the ideal laser to use in individuals with darker skin because its longer wavelength allows for the laser to be less attracted to the skin’s pigment. This results in a lower risk for skin pigment changes.
  • Ruby Laser: Ruby lasers are good for treating more stubborn colors of ink, such as some shades of green and blue. However, it may pose a higher risk since the skin pigment may change.

Procedure overview

Depending on the size of the tattoo, the whole procedure should take between 10 minutes to an hour.

A topical anesthetic or a lidocaine shot will be given before the treatment to prevent you from feeling much pain during the procedure. You will also be given eye protection to wear to prevent the laser from being attracted to pigmented areas of your eye.

Laser pulses will be targeted at your tattoo. You should not feel much pain during the procedure, but you may still feel like a rubber band is hitting your body with each pulse.

Recovery time

After the procedure, you will have a wound that you will need to clean daily and apply a healing ointment to it. You may feel some tenderness, which ice can help facilitate.

Your skin should heal within 5 days of the procedure, but you will be expected to wear a bandage for 7-10 days after treatment.

It is important to use sun protection for 3 months afterwards to avoid further complications with your skin.

How many treatments will you need?

The number of treatments needed to remove your tattoo will depend on many factors, such as the size, the color, the depth and density of the ink and the age of the tattoo. For example, older tattoos fade and tend to be easier to remove than newer tattoos.

Most patients will need more than 1 treatment to see results. The average number of sessions needed is usually between 1 to 10, with treatments being spaced apart by 6 weeks.

The time between treatments is necessary for healing and for the ink particles to be excreted from the body.

When will you see results?

It depends on the tattoo (ie color, depth, etc). On average, most individuals require anywhere from 5 to 15 sessions to attain the desired results.

How long will your results last?

Results are permanent.

To learn more about laser tattoo removal, visit the American Academy of Dermatology Association website. relies on sources such as professional medical organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals to write it’s articles. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, in-depth, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

*Medical Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. Read more