Removery has treated over 120,000+ tattoos and has refined tattoo removal protocols. With years of experience, we are confident in stating that most tattoos can be removed in about 10-12 treatments. However, there are some exceptions and considerations when choosing full tattoo removal.
This client achieved full removal in 9 sessions, which is less than the average of 10-12. Some other clients require 12+ treatments and we will explain why in this article.
Not every tattoo on every person will be ideal for full removal. Utilizing the Fitzpatrick Scale, skin types are assigned a numerical value for classification. Those with skin types I-III will be more suited to full removal while skin types IV-VI will only be able to remove certain tattoo colors in order to reduce the risk of hypopigmentation, or the depletion of melanin making the skin lighter than the baseline of the surrounding area.
Tattoos that are cover ups, or re-done, will likely take longer to see complete removal results due to the ink density being layered into the dermis.
Tattoos that are scarred from when the tattoo was done, may be more difficult to receive full tattoo removal due to the thick scar tissue. Laser tattoo removal may reduce some scarring but complete removal is not guaranteed.
Certain colors and pigments could potentially shift in color or intensity during the removal process which may result in difficulty completely removing the tattoo. For example, tattoo artists often mix their ink with white ink to achieve the desired color. Due to the color mixing, you might be able to see fading results from the darker ink pigment but there is the potential of the white ink oxidizing which can affect the overall removal results.
Large pieces, bigger than a standard sheet of paper that are heavily saturated, such as a full coverage half sleeve, chest pieces, and back pieces, are also often difficult to completely remove due to the amount of pigment in the skin. Alternatively, these clients are often recommended fading removal services to replace the old and get a cover up of something new.
Older tattoos do not always fade faster than new tattoos, and the location of the tattoo will factor into how quickly or slowly the pigment fades. Tattoos closer to the heart and circulatory system will typically fade slightly faster when compared to tattoos that are further from the heart.
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On average, it takes approximately two years between 10-12 sessions to see complete removal results. The time between treatments will vary based on skin type, ink density, location of the tattoo, and your overall health will play a factor in your removal results. Nicotine smokers are encouraged to quit due to how it will affect your results. Read more about how smoking and drinking affects tattoo removal.
Removing a tattoo is a long process. We also recognize that life happens and circumstances such as weather, accidental sunburn, family emergencies, and illness are unexpected life circumstances that are factored into the two-year time frame estimate.
If you’re seeking full tattoo removal and live outside in the summer, we ask that you refrain from being in the sun or heat and avoid swimming for 10 days after treatment. If you work outside and avoiding the sun is not an option, we recommend covering up the tattoo or waiting until the fall to pick up your removal sessions again. Learn why fall is the best time to start tattoo removal.
In short, no. Laser tattoo removal works by blasting the ink particles into tiny pieces for your body’s immune system to naturally digest. Therefore, the laser just breaks apart the ink particle layers and your body needs time between sessions to remove the particles so that the laser is targeting a new layer to achieve maximum results. The protocols we’ve defined as the optimal time between sessions is 6-8 weeks. Although, the technician may require longer periods between sessions depending on your removal progress. The longer you spend between sessions, the more successful your removal will be.
With time and continued sessions, you will likely be able to leave with a completely removed tattoo, but 100% clearance is not guaranteed. For more clients, 90-95% pigment eradication is where we consider the tattoo to be fully removed. Tattoo ink is still unregulated by the FDA, how it reacts to treatments and the immune system’s ability to process it out will vary from tattoo to tattoo. Results will vary from person to person. 90-95% pigment eradication will mean that most people who have never met you before, who you interact with at the grocery store, or sit across from at dinner will more than likely not even know that you had a tattoo.
A best friend, co-worker, significant other, or family member may still spot very small, extremely faded flecks of pigment remaining after your laser treatment. This is referred to as ghosting and is considered to be an acceptable lever of removal for most clients who are candidates for full tattoo removal. The important thing to remember is that a 100% “permanent” decision is now 90-95% gone.
This is one example of what we consider full tattoo removal. This client received 11 treatments and the after photo was taken 6 months after the last session. While some pigments can still be seen in the after photo, anyone who didn’t see the before would have a difficult time knowing that a peach was previously there.
Fast, very fast. In fact, most laser sessions take less than 3 minutes to treat and some as quick as 15 seconds! Watch this real-time tattoo removal to get a feel of how quickly your tattoo can be lasered.
Another option opposed to complete tattoo removal would be to have it faded for a cover up. On average it takes around 3-5 sessions to achieve enough fading for your tattoo to be covered up. This is a great option for anyone who has a large, well-saturated tattoo or a piece that was already covered. Fading the tattoo will give the artists more canvas and opportunity to provide the best tattoo possible. Watch this video of tattoo artist Jon Mesa talking about cover up tattoos and how laser tattoo removal has helped his craft.
There you have it! We’ve broken down how long it takes to get your tattoo removed. Does it take time and continued sessions? Yes! Is it worth it for complete tattoo removal? Yes!
We’re on a mission to give you the most straightforward, easy and efficient laser tattoo removal experience. Your estimate will be entirely bespoke to your tattoo; the size, the colours, the ink. It won’t take long and afterwards you’ll have a plan to finally get rid of your unwanted tattoo and get back to being you.