How Long Does Tattoo Removal Take? (Side Effects & More)

So you got a tattoo, and now you want it gone. What’s the process like? How long does tattoo removal take?

The number of treatments required for tattoo removal varies depending on the tattoo’s size, location, and age. Most tattoos will require several treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart.

Moreover, I’ll provide detailed information about the removal process in this blog post, so keep reading to learn more!

Key Takeaways

  • Tattoo removal is a process that uses lasers to break down the ink in the tattoo so that it can be absorbed by the body.
  • The number of treatments required for tattoo removal varies depending on the tattoo’s size, location, and age.
  • The average tattoo removal session takes about 30 minutes.

Different Tattoo Removal Treatments and Their Durations

So, you might be thinking about how long tattoo removal takes to remove your ex’s name from your arm.

Before I answer that question, you should know that there are several types of tattoo removal treatments and how long they typically take depends on several factors:

1. Laser Treatment Tattoo Removal

Laser tattoo removal is one of the most EFFECTIVE methods for removing tattoo ink. The number of sessions required depends on the tattoo’s color, size, and location. Most laser tattoo removal takes 4 to 8 treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart [1].

women removing tattoo but how long does tattoo removal take

During each laser treatment, the laser energy breaks down the ink particles in the tattoo, and they are then absorbed by the body.

The laser tattoo removal process is usually not painful, but some people may experience discomfort during the treatment.

Pro Tip: The average laser removal session takes about 30 minutes.

2. Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (LPL)

This tattoo removal treatment uses high-intensity light pulses to break down the ink particles in the unwanted tattoo. Like laser tattoo removal, the number of treatments required depends on the tattoo’s size, location, and color.

women removing tattoo but how long does tattoo removal take

Most tattoos will also require 4 to 8 treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart. During each session, the light pulses target the ink particles in the tattoo and break them down.

3. Surgical Removal

Surgical removal is a more invasive treatment involving cutting out the tattooed skin. This type of removal is typically only used for SMALL tattoos.

Again, the number of treatments required will depend on the tattoo’s size, location, and age, and most tattoos require several treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart. The tattooed skin is CUT out and then stitched closed during each treatment.

4. Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a tattoo removal treatment that uses a rotating wire brush to REMOVE the top layers of skin. This type of removal is typically only used for small unwanted tattoos. Most tattoos will require several treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart.

During each treatment, the tattooed skin is ABRADED with a wire brush. This removes the top layers of skin and lightens the tattoo.

5. Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a type of tattoo removal treatment that uses a CHEMICAL solution to remove the top layers of the skin [2].

During each treatment, the tattooed skin is covered with a chemical solution that removes the top layers of the skin and lightens the tattoo.

How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost?

Tattoo removal treatments can VARY in cost, depending on the type of treatment and the number of sessions required.

Laser tattoo removal is typically the most expensive option, while dermabrasion and chemical peels are typically the least expensive.

The average cost of laser tattoo removal is $200 to $500 per session.

Dermabrasion treatments usually cost between $75 and $150 each. And a chemical peel costs between $50 and $100 per session.

Schedule a consultation with a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon in your area if you’re interested in LEARNING more about tattoo removal treatments and how long they take.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for an experienced professional to assist you with tattoo removal, it’s important to find someone who is certified by the American Board of Laser Surgery (ABLS).

Different Factors That Impact Removal Time

Now that you know about the different types of tattoo removal treatments and how long they take, you might wonder about other factors impacting removal time.

Here are some different factors that can impact how long it takes to remove a tattoo:

1. The Tattoo’s Size

The size of the tattoo will impact how long it takes to remove. Smaller tattoos will typically take LESS time to remove than larger tattoos.

2. The Tattoo’s Age

Older tattoos are often EASIER to remove than newer ones. This is because the ink in older tattoos has had more time to fade and break down.

3. The Tattoo’s Location

The location of the tattoo can also impact how long it takes to remove. Tattoos on areas of the body that have more FATTY tissue, like the thighs or buttocks, are often HARDER to remove than tattoos on areas with less fatty tissue, like the arms or chest.

4. The Tattoo’s Color

The color of the tattoo can also affect removal time. Black and blue tattoos are often EASIER to remove than colored tattoos.

5. Your Skin Tone

Your skin tone can also play a role in removal time. People with darker skin often have a HARDER time removing their tattoos than people with lighter skin.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for an experienced professional to assist you with tattoo removal, it’s important to find someone who is certified by the American Board of Laser Surgery (ABLS) [3].

Side Effects of Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal treatments can have some side effects, including:

1. Pain

Tattoo removal can be PAINFUL because the treatments usually involve some abrasion, like dermabrasion or a chemical peel, which can cause pain and discomfort.

Laser tattoo removal can also be painful. The pulses of light used in the treatment can cause a stinging or burning sensation.

women removing tattoo but how long does tattoo removal takes

You might want to take a pain reliever before your tattoo removal treatments. If the pain is too much to handle, your dermatologist can give you a local anesthetic to numb the area.

2. Redness and Swelling

Tattoo removal treatments can cause redness and swelling around the tattooed area. This is usually TEMPORARY and should go away within a few days.

If the redness and swelling last longer than a few days or worsens, you should contact your dermatologist.

3. Scarring

Tattoo removal treatments can also cause scarring. This is more likely to happen with treatments that involve some ABRASION, like dermabrasion or a chemical peel. Laser tattoo removal can also cause scarring, but this is less common.

You can help prevent scarring by following your dermatologist’s instructions for aftercare and by not picking at the treated area.

4. Pigment Changes

Tattoo removal treatments can also cause pigment changes in the skin. This is more likely to happen with people who have DARKER skin.

The pigment changes are usually TEMPORARY and will go away on their own. But in some cases, they might be permanent.

You should contact your dermatologist if you notice any pigment changes after a tattoo removal treatment.

5. Infection

There is also a risk of infection with tattoo removal treatments. This is more likely to happen if the treatments involve BREAKING the skin, like dermabrasion or a chemical peel.

You can help prevent infection by following your dermatologist’s instructions for aftercare and by not picking at the treated area.

6. Allergic Reaction

In rare cases, people might have an ALLERGIC reaction to tattoo removal treatments. This is more likely to happen with chemical peels and laser tattoo removal.

You should contact your dermatologist immediately if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, like itchiness, redness, or swelling.

Don’t forget to check our guide on the best tattoo pen machine for beginners. Better yet, this guide will show you which method is best should you later choose to remove your tattoo.

Other Important Factors to Consider When Getting a Tattoo Removed

In addition to the above factors, there are a few other things you should keep in mind if you’re considering getting a tattoo removed:

  • Even with multiple treatments, some tattoos may not be completely removed.
  • Tattoo removal is an invasive process involving breaking down the skin and removing layers.
  • Laser technology can take several weeks or months to work.
  • Most tattoos will require multiple treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart.
  • Tattoo removal can be expensive, especially if you require multiple treatments.
  • The cost of tattoo removal varies depending on the size, location, and age of the tattoo and the type of treatment used.
  • Tattoo removal can sometimes cause scarring due to the invasiveness of the treatments.

If you’re considering tattoo removal, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision to remove your unwanted ink. Be sure to consult with a dermatologist or other medical professional to get all the facts.

What To Expect After Your Treatment

After your tattoo removal treatment, it’s important to follow all of your tattoo artist’s instructions. This will help you heal properly and reduce the risk of infection. In most cases, you’ll need to

  • Keep the treated area clean and dry.
  • Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the treated area.
  • Cover the treated area with a bandage.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication as needed.
  • Avoid sun exposure.
  • Avoid contact sports or other activities that could irritate the treated area.

It’s also important to watch for signs of infection, which can include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling or drainage from the treated area
  • Increased pain or tenderness in the treated area
  • Fever or chills

Pro Tip: Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions after your tattoo removal treatment.

How to Make Tattoo Removal More Efficient?

Although laser tattoo removal is typically a safe and effective treatment, there are a few things you can do to help make the process more efficient:

  • Choose a reputable dermatologist or other medical professionals.
  • Select a laser tattoo removal provider that uses state-of-the-art technology.
  • Get a consultation before treatment.
  • Prepare for each treatment.
  • Follow all aftercare instructions.
  • Be patient with the results.

Tattoo removal can be lengthy, so it’s important to be patient and follow your doctor’s instructions.

With the right treatment plan, you can expect to see the gradual fading of your tattoo over time.

FAQs

Can Tattoos Be Removed Completely?

Can Tattoos Be Removed Completely

In most cases, tattoos can be removed completely. However, a few factors can affect how well the tattoo removal process works.

Can I Opt For A Tattoo Removal Cream?

There are a number of tattoo removal creams on the market. However, it’s important to note that most of these creams are not very effective.

What Happens If I Stop Getting Treatment Before The Tattoo Is Completely Removed?

If you stop getting tattoo removal treatments before the tattoo is completely removed, the tattoo will likely remain visible.

I Have An Allergy To Metals. Can I Still Get My Tattoo Removed?

Yes, you can still get your tattoo removed if you have an allergy to metals. However, it’s important to let your doctor know about your allergy before starting treatment.

Conclusion

Removing a tattoo is not as simple as getting one. It requires multiple laser sessions that are scheduled weeks apart.

Depending on the size and location of the tattoo, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to several sessions to remove it. The average tattoo removal session takes about 30 minutes.

Now that you know how long tattoo removal takes, you can better prepare yourself for the process. Be sure to consult with a medical professional to get all the facts before making a decision.

women removing tattoo but how long does tattoo removal take

So, what do you think? How much will it take to remove a tattoo? Share your opinion with me in the comments section!

Sources

  • Laser Tattoo Removal: How Many Treatments Will It Take? Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery®. Published April 5, 2019. Accessed November 16, 2022. https://www.westlakedermatology.com/blog/how-many-laser-tattoo-removal-treatments-to-remove-my-tattoo/
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Published 2022. Accessed November 16, 2022. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tattoo-removal#:~:text=Chemical%20peel%20tattoo%20removal,the%20use%20of%20an%20anesthetic.
  • The American Board of Laser Surgery – Certification in Laser Surgery and Light Procedures. ABLS. Published 2012. Accessed November 16, 2022. https://www.americanboardoflasersurgery.org/
About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.

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