This is our most commonly asked question and the hardest to answer without seeing the tattoo, that is why we offer a FREE consultation to give you all the information you need to make your decision.
First, let’s state one thing VERY clearly. No one, no matter what their degree or their expertise, can say for certain exactly how many sessions it will take to remove YOUR tattoo. Because everyone’s immune system is different and everyone’s skin is different, all we can do is give an educated estimation. Anyone who tells you the exact number of treatments to remove your tattoo is trying to sell you something based on false promises.
The average time to remove a professionally applied tattoo ranges from 9 months to 18 months. Some tattoos take longer, some come off faster. That is one of the reasons we have the Undo your Tattoo Guarantee. Regardless of how long it takes, you will get what you came here for; complete removal of your tattoo for a confirmed price.
Some of the factors that determine how long it will take to remove your tattoo include:
1) Density of ink – The more dense the ink, the more layers of ink are in the tattoo and the longer it will take to remove the tattoo. As we showed in an earlier blog post, we remove the ink layer by layer; the more layers, the more treatments. This does not always correlate directly to darkness. Just because a color is darker, it doesn’t mean the density is significantly greater. What matters is how much ink is in the skin. For those of you with cover-up tattoos, you have two layers of ink, which will take more time to remove. Amateur tattoos will almost always come out faster than professional tattoos as the density of ink is usually much less. We removed one 40-year old amateur tattoo in one treatment (though this is certainly not the norm).
2) Location on the body – The closer to the heart, the faster the tattoo can be removed. This is because the closer the tattoo is to the heart, the greater your blood pressure and the more immune cells that are passing the tattoo. Since it is these immune cells that remove the ink, the more that pass by, the faster the tattoo is removed. This doesn’t mean we can’t take off tattoos from hands or feet, they just take a little longer than if they are on the chest or back.
3) Skin tone – The current state of laser technology does have some limitations. The laser doesn’t care if it removes the tattoo pigment or the pigment in your skin. So, if you have darker skin, we need to be wary that we don’t remove your natural skin pigment or “hypo-pigment” your skin. How do we ensure this? By always using the proper, safe laser settings that give you an effective treatment without using too much power and changing your skin tone. Because we need to moderate the laser powers on darker skin, removing tattoos from darker skin can take longer. In general, the lighter your skin tone, the faster we can remove the tattoo.
4) Smoking – One of the largest studies published on factors affecting tattoo removal (American Medical Association’s Archives of Dermatology) found that smoking can reduce by 70% the chance of successfully removing a tattoo after 10 treatment sessions. Again, can we get tattoos off smokers? Of course we can, it just takes longer because smokers’ immune systems are constantly removing foreign substances from the lungs and their wound healing is not as robust as a non-smoker. If you were looking for another reason to quit, you now have it!
As everyone is different and every tattoo is different, the only way for us to give you a good estimation of your removal is to come in for a free consultation. You can give us a call at 617-477-8636 (UNDO) or go to our appointment page at: