Testimonial Stories Of Tattoo Removal Estimates Gone Bad

I received a phone call today from a client asking about laser tattoo removal, specifically "How many sessions does it take to remove a tattoo?".  She explained to me that she had gone to an appointment to seek laser tattoo removal of a small, black ink tattoo on her rib cage, placed years ago.


At the appointment the practitioner told her "he did not perform laser tattoo removal" but he was certain"it could be removed in a single laser tattoo removal session".
She was frustrated when he offered up expert advice about a procedure he does not do.

Laser tattoo removal rarely can be accomplished in a single laser removal session. In my experience even simple removals take 3 sessions.  Clients are seeking quality results, meaning they want lack of evidence that a tattoo existed, and they want to be scar free.


To achieve this a removal needs to be done correctly and over several sessions.

Tattoos are layers of ink, like the layers of an onion, they need to peeled back slowly; at a laser tattoo removal session a practitioner will pass the laser over the tattoo and break up as much ink as possible, repeating the procedure layer by layer, session after session.

The number of laser tattoo removal sessions needed to complete a removal can be estimated by a practitioner, but several facilities/offices/practitioners will not offer an estimation of the number of sessions needed to remove a tattoo.


Why not estimate?

An estimate is a guess, usually an educated one but still a guess. If a practitioner gets it wrong they can unfairly lose some credibility.  Even the most experienced practitioners do not know exactly how many sessions it takes to remove a tattoo.

Every tattoo is unique, ink is not regulated so just the content of ink can create havoc when it comes to session estimation.  Practitioners either by science or experience will develop their own method to provide clients with as accurate an estimation as possible regarding removal.

We use the Kirby Desai Scale as a resource when estimating the number of sessions needed for laser tattoo removal. Can a scale be 100% accurate? No, but this scale allows us to show a client the estimated number of removal sessions and how that number was derived.
The scale takes into account photo-type (skin type), tattoo location, ink color/amount of ink, and other factors.

Photo-type matters. A clients photo-type influences the removal protocol and the number of sessions. A practitioner will discuss the role of your skin when discussing tattoo removal. 
Skin type is determined by the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale.

Clients are classified Type I to Type VI.
A Type I client is pale and fair skinned. 
A Type VI client is pigmented dark brown to black.

Other clients fall somewhere in between. 

The lighter the skin the faster the results. Light skin has low melanin content so the laser attacks the ink. Dark skin requires more laser tattoo removal sessions because the laser light targets not only tattoo ink, but also the melanin content of pigmented skin.

Tattoo location matters. Think circulation. Laser tattoo removal requires a client to have good circulation so the lymphatic system can remove particles of ink.  Good circulation occurs naturally closer to the heart. Our hands and feet are far away from the heart, they get less circulation, and take many laser sessionsThe farther away from the heart a tattoo is the more laser sessions are needed.Your practitioner will discuss tattoo location and the number of laser tattoo removal sessions indicated based on the location.

Ink matters. Removal of black ink generally requires less sessions and the number of required sessions is more predictable; where as multi colored tattoos require more sessions and is less predictable. The amount or density of the ink must be taken into consideration. Amateur tattoos, done by inexperienced artists can be easy removals because the ink is minimal and not placed deep in the dermis.


Other artists use significant amounts of ink and place the ink deeper, and still others heavily outline tattoos and fill in tattoos. When this is the case more ink means more removal sessions are needed.


Cover-ups add additional layers of ink, and add more laser removal sessions.A client has to be committed to his/her removal. I understand the need to know how many sessions..............but really no one knows how many until its done.