How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost?

Shopping for tattoo removal, and want to know “How much does tattoo removal cost?”

Tattoos can be removed using a laser, surgical excision, dermabrasion or chemical; and the cost varies with each technique.

Laser tattoo removal, the most common technique used, ranges from $100 to $500 per session. Removal can take many sessions; five to twenty, at $100 to $500 per session the total cost could reach $500 to $10,000.  We generally see sessions between $150-$300 for most 3 by 7 inch tattoos.  When you have a very, very large tattoo (think sleeves or full back tattoo) it can start to creep into the $500 a session price point.  The session count that each person has to go through depends on the skin color and how deep the ink was put into the skin by the tattoo artist.  We touch base on how to strengthen your immune system to get faster results in this article here.  Most people require between 6 & 10 sessions over the course of 18 months.  This means that every 8-12 weeks you would pay for a session to get it removed as quickly as possible. 

Surgical removal starts at $1000, this will get you a simple office procedure done under local anesthesia and leave you with a surgical scar. A not so simple excisions could cost as much as $10,000, removals requiring anesthesia and extensive surgical excision of the inked skin along with skin grafting the area, not to mention a larger scar and high risk of infection.

Dermabrasion, a barbaric method, sanding away of the skin and tattoo is less expensive, painful, not recommended and causes the most damage to the skin.

Chemical removal, which all experts agree does not work, is sought by clients as a cheaper way to remove a tattoo. Companies promise that creams, lotions, and products will rid you of a tattoo. Clients spend hundreds of dollars on removal products that do not work, and then seek other removal methods. They pay twice.

Lasers are the standard for tattoo removal and the out of pocket cost varies.

Geographic location can be a factor in the cost of laser tattoo removal. Large urban areas like New York City, Atlanta, and Chicago have a slightly higher cost than cities in the mid-west. The cost can be masked by deals like “as low as $60 for laser tattoo removal”. This is usually the cost per square inch, advertised to get clients to seek removal. The average tattoo is four to six square inches, and many are much larger. The most expensive area to have a laser tattoo removal done is southern California, Palm Springs to be exact.

Where the service is performed is also a factor.

Laser tattoo removal is offered at Medical-Spas across the country. A medical spa is overseen by a plastic surgeon. The cost of a plastic surgeon and a spa like environment is passed on to the consumer in the form of packages and deals. Medical-Spas average about four laser tattoo removal sessions each week. They primarily do other cosmetic procedures like facials and hair removal. Lasers are operated by trained personnel.

Dermatologists also perform laser tattoo removal; they normally charge per session, and are at the upper end of the price range. Charging a client $250-$500 per session. There is no insurance reimbursement for laser tattoo removal so all costs are out of pocket. The physician operates the laser. Not all dermatologists offer this service; you will need to shop for a dermatologist that offers this service.

Privately owned clinics also offer laser tattoo removal. Clinics that specialize in laser tattoo removal are run by other trained medical practitioners, like nurses. Clinic staffs are specially trained in laser tattoo removal, not just laser operation. Cost is significantly cheaper because you are not paying for a high end environment, or the cost of a licensed physician.

Because tattoo lightening or fading is popular before a cover-up tattoo is placed tattoo shops have invested in lasers. The shop can provide the client with a few removal sessions, fade the ink, and have a nice palette to tattoo. Verify the training of the laser operator before you consent to this. Even a few laser sessions can cause skin damage and scarring if the user is not trained.

What will it cost me to have a tattoo removed?

The tattoo itself should be evaluated, and the cost of removal will depend upon the size, color, ink saturation, skin tone, scarring, and type of laser. Consultations should be free, if a practitioner charges for a consult steer clear. Reputable offices will offer complimentary consultations to determine the total cost of treatment including the number of sessions required. There should be no gimmicks, or hidden fess. Pressure to start treatment the day of consult by offering a special price for same day is a gimmick. A good candidate for removal will be well informed regarding the cost, and have time to make a decision to proceed or not.

Since cost is really about the number of sessions, always ask “How the number of sessions was determined?”  With experience I can look at a tattoo and estimate the number of laser sessions needed to meet a client’s goals. But, that’s not how Uninked determines the number of sessions. Uninked uses The Kirby-Desai Scale to assess tattoos and determine the number of sessions recommended for removal. This is a practical numerical scale. The scale assigns a numerical score to each tattoo for six different categories: skin type, location, color, amount of ink, scarring, and layering. The cumulative score is proposed to correlate with the number of treatment sessions required for satisfactory tattoo removal for all clients. This practical scale translates into a proposed cost for the client. A score greater than 15 points indicates a tattoo that may be too difficult to remove. At Uninked we are transparent about the score. This scale has been researched and found to be accurate within 2-3 points. We base treatment plans off of the score and accept that we may do 2-3 additional sessions (at no cost to a client); or provide 2-3 less sessions than the score indicated.

We believe that charging per session is the best way to charge for laser tattoo removal. Results of removal vary from client to client. Tattoo removal can sometimes take less sessions than originally discussed, or more sessions. A client should know how additional sessions will be charged. Most reputable offices will charge less for additional sessions, since there is far less ink to treat.

Deals are not the same as gimmicks. Laser tattoo removal can be found at low costs. Laser centers with great reputations will be able to offer very competitive prices while maintaining high standards in safety, efficacy, and cleanliness and also employ trained tattoo removal laser operators.

Curious about how much your tattoo would cost to get removed?  Book a free appointment with us today.