There are plenty of reasons why you might want to get a tattoo removed. The tattoo could have been poorly done, it may not fit into your current lifestyle, or you may just want to replace it with something more modern and relevant.
Whatever the reason, the last thing you want to do is go to a tattoo removal center that will cost more than necessary, or even worse, embark on a journey without knowing how much tattoo removal will cost. While quality, experience, and customer care are very important when it comes to choosing a tattoo removal provider, you should also have a good idea of the cost so you can make an informed decision.
Everyone gets caught up in the price per session but the larger question is how many sessions will my tattoo require to be removed or lightened for a cover-up? Experienced clinics will be able to predict the approximate number of sessions that will be needed to accomplish your goals and will offer some type of guarantee to back up their prediction. Less experienced clinics will offer packages with various numbers of treatments in each package, but will not be able to definitively stand behind the session number prediction. Tattoos are as individual as the person wearing them so there’s no blanket number of sessions based on the laser being used. It takes tons of data with thousands of variables to be able to predict the number of treatments with confidence.
There are several ways laser tattoo removal centers determine their prices, but most reputable facilities rely on two main factors: the size of the tattoo and the number of treatments.
When using size as a determining factor, most laser facilities use one of the following methods: square inch method, sizing grouping, or flat rate.
With the square inch method, you only pay for what you need. However, it can often be difficult to determine what exactly fits into an inch, so estimates may vary.
With the size grouping method, the tattoo can easily be categorized by size and then assigned a cost for full tattoo removal or fading.
When size is not a major factor, a center can also use the flat rate method. This involves an average cost per session for every client regardless of whether they want a one-inch or 20-inch tattoo removed. This is an easy-to-use method, but those with smaller tattoos may end up paying a lot more than they actually need to. Centers who use this method generally will only allow a fairly small area as the cap that can be treated in each session.
If a tattoo removal centers determine cost by the number of treatments, it’s vital for you to know how many treatments it will take to remove your specific tattoo. Keep in mind that the maximum area any laser can treat in one session without overloading the immune system is 25-35 square inches. The effectiveness of each session depends on two factors: technology and protocol/experience.
Reputable tattoo removal centers should use both nanosecond Q-Switched technology AND Picosecond technology–or ideally a combination of the two. Q-switched is the most common form of traditional laser used on the market today and is a less expensive laser for a clinic to purchase. With this laser, the average number of treatments is anywhere from 10-15, and the cost ranges from $50-$800 per treatment. Picosecond lasers are lasers that break the ink into smaller particles than nanosecond technology. These lasers are generally double the cost for the clinic to purchase. It takes fewer sessions to remove a tattoo – usually six to eight – and we find that the average industry cost of picosecond lasers are higher at $200-$2000 per treatment.
The most subjective but crucial factor in the pricing of tattoo removal is the protocol and experience of the clinic. A reputable facility should have a doctor, physicians assistant, nurse, LPN, laser tech, or esthetician to perform your tattoo removal. In some instances, facilities will have a laser operator with no credentials.
No matter who is firing the laser, finding out more about the clinic’s experience is essential. Those who perform the highest number of tattoo removals typically have the best experience. The gold standard would be a trained professional who constantly stays educated about the latest protocols and technology and who also performs numerous laser sessions per day.
During your consultation, make sure to ask about which laser will be used for your tattoo removal as well as the background and experience of the clinic and who oversees the treatments.
When it comes to tattoo removal costs, you must first choose a tattoo removal center you would like to consult with. Some clinics charge for a consultation and some offer consultations for free. During your consultation, you’ll want to ask some educated questions that will help you determine if they are reputable and knowledgeable and whether their pricing is in the acceptable range. If you don’t like the answers to your questions, you can politely decline services and find a different facility to consider. Here is a sampling of questions you can ask during your consultation to get a good feel for the facility.
How many people a day are being treated?
Reputable laser centers that focus on this specialty treatment will treat a minimum of ten clients per day. Find a facility that has experience with a proven protocol – this question can often weed out the facilities that are just doing tattoo removal on a part-time basis.
Who fires the laser?
Remember to look for a combination of training and experience. Though you may be impressed by a physician’s credentials, they may charge more and could even have less experience than a technician. The Finery has multiple clinicians, nurses, and medical staff that oversees each and every treatment. Rather than one provider, you have access to a team of tattoo removal experts.
How many sessions will it take to remove each color?
Different colors take different amounts of time and wavelengths to remove. The easiest color to remove is relative to what technology the tattoo removal center uses. Due to the speed (pulse duration) and wavelength, a Picosure (755) laser will remove blue, green, and purple faster than any other machine on the market. If the center tries to tell you that another machine will remove these colors more quickly, you will instantly know they are giving you false information. The 1064 wavelength present in many picosecond platforms will remove black faster and with less skin fatigue than with many nanosecond Q-switched platforms. Learn more about the difference between technologies on our laser page.
What laser are you using?
A reputable center like The Finery will use a combination of lasers to get the best tattoo removal results. Pico technology alone will not remove all colors in the shortest amount of time, so we combine multiple Picosecond platforms with Q-switched technology like Revlite, the Lutronic Spectra, and the Quanta Studio to perform comprehensive and affordable tattoo removal.
Learn more about how The Finery has tested or uses the Lutronic Pico Plus, Candella PicoWay and the Quanta Pico Evo.
In most cases, tattoo removal takes more than one treatment. To keep your costs down, ask about any package discounts or options that you can choose from. If you cannot afford a package, you can also ask about financing, but be aware that many medical financing options carry steep interest rates. You can ask for the information, but we recommend you compare the rates to credit cards you may have if you really need to finance the cost learn more about the Finery interest-free financing.
People who jump from clinic to clinic usually end up taking more time and sessions to remove their tattoo. It’s impossible for technicians to know how to treat your tattoo most effectively if they do not have the history of what depths/ energies and lasers have been used before. What treatment settings have not worked so well in the past and where the tattoo has been hit before are impossible to determine just by looking at the tattoo.
Paying as you go per session generally ends up costing you more in the long run. Buying the package with guaranteed results always wins the game with cost-effective tattoo removal. If you are paying off the package with no interest financing, the cost per month over the life of the tattoo removal process always ends up being less costly than paying as you go.
The cost of tattoo removal is a common concern for those who want to remove or cover up a tattoo they no longer want on their body. The above guidelines will help you determine if you are being charged fairly, but we encourage you not to choose based on price alone.