How much does tattoo removal cost?
Tattoo regret is common, but tattoo removal is often cost-prohibitive. Prices depend on factors like size, complexity, number of treatments needed, and method used. Laser removal is standard with typical per-treatment costs of $200-$500. Multi-color and larger tattoos require more treatments, meaning you could spend $1,000-$5,000 or more. Alternatives like surgical excision are cheaper per treatment but leave scarring. With proper research and budgeting, unwanted tattoos can be removed affordably. This article explores the costs and pricing structure of the various tattoo removal methods.
Introduction: Up to 25% of people with tattoos eventually want them removed. However, erasing a tattoo is expensive – especially large, colorful, or complex designs. Laser removal is considered the gold standard, but requires multiple visits costing several hundred dollars each. Other techniques like dermabrasion or excision remove ink quickly but less completely and with greater risk of scarring. So how much does it really cost to say goodbye to your regrettable ink? Here is an overview of the pricing factors and total cost ranges for different tattoo removal methods.
Laser Removal Cost: Laser removal uses targeted light waves to break up tattoo pigment so the body can absorb it. Pricing is usually based on the size of each tattoo:
- Small (finger, wrist): $50-$150 per session
- Medium (hand, forearm): $100-$250 per session
- Large (full back, sleeve): $300-$500+ per session
On top of the per-session fee, multiple treatments are needed to fully erase a tattoo, typically 6-12 visits spaced 6-8 weeks apart. So in total, removal costs are:
- Small tattoos: $300 – $1,800
- Medium tattoos: $600 – $3,000
- Large/multiple tattoos: $1,800 – $6,000+
The number of treatments depends on the tattoo’s size, location, amount of ink, and colors used. Black tattoos are simplest while bright colors are the hardest to remove. Multicolor and custom designs require the most treatments.
Other Factors Affecting Laser Removal Cost:
- Body location – Delicate areas like hands, feet require specialized equipment and expertise, increasing pricing.
- Clinic/doctor – Dermatologists or plastic surgeons charge more than medspas.
- Removal method – Newer picosecond lasers are faster but pricier per session.
- Package pricing – Some clinics offer package deals for multiple treatments upfront.
With optimal settings and treatments, laser removal can make a tattoo unrecognizable in 1-2 years.
Alternative Removal Options and Costs:
Dermabrasion: This involves sanding skin with a wire brush or burr to abrade away top ink layers. Around $100 per session. Faster than lasers but significant scarring and skin discoloration.
Surgical Excision: Cutting out the tattooed skin for stitching. About $200 per inch of skin removed. Effective on small tattoos but leaves permanent scarring.
Chemical Peels: Applying an acidic solution to peel off inked skin. Around $200 per session. Causes skin discoloration. Not effective on deep tattoos.
Cryosurgery: Freezing tattooed skin with liquid nitrogen to destroy pigment. Approximately $100 per treatment. Can lighten but not fully remove tattoos. Causes blistering.
While cheaper per session, these methods cannot remove a tattoo completely or without noticeable scarring/damage. Lasers deliver the best results safely with minimal side effects.
Budgeting and Cost Saving Tips:
Tattoo removal costs can quickly add up. Ways to lower costs include:
- Getting package deal for multiple treatments upfront.
- Choosing a medspa over a doctor’s office.
- Only partially removing very large/dark tattoos to lighten them.
- Getting an old tattoo covered up with a new smaller one.
- Discussing financing plans with providers to make payments.
Shop around for reasonable pricing in your area to find the most affordable options. Also consult with clinics about estimated costs and sessions needed for the best accuracy.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Does insurance cover tattoo removal? A: Unfortunately no, as it is considered an elective cosmetic procedure. Exceptions may occur if the tattoo causes an allergic reaction or was done against your will.
Q: Can I get a tattoo removed in one session? A: No, it takes multiple treatments to fully erase a tattoo. One session can only partially fade it.
Q: Which tattoos are cheapest to remove? A: Smaller, simpler black ink tattoos require the fewest laser sessions for complete removal, reducing costs.
Q: What factors make tattoo removal more expensive? A: Large size, colored/custom designs, delicate body areas, higher demand providers, and newer laser technologies increase pricing.
Q: How can I get tattoo removal for free? A: Some removal clinics offer free treatments for gang tattoos or human trafficking survivors. Otherwise, you must pay out-of-pocket.
While expensive, unwanted tattoos can safely be erased using today’s technology. With laser removal, most tattoos require 6-12 or more treatments over years for full removal, at a cost of hundreds of dollars per session. Large or complex multicolor tattoos will be at the higher end of the price spectrum. Still, take time to research your options and budget accordingly so you can finally say farewell to your tattoo regret.