On average, the cost of tattoo removal through laser treatments is approximately $425 per session. Tattoo removal costs can differ depending on the tattoo’s location, the ink’s quality, the tattoo’s size, and other factors. You may need to pay as much as $4,500 for full removal.
When you get a tattoo, the first thing that people tell you is that you need to make sure that you want that art. Tattoo ink is supposed to be permanent, and for much of human history, it was a permanent fixture.
But today, tattoos are no longer the permanent sentence they once were. You can pay for tattoo removal if you have a tattoo you no longer like. There are several ways to get rid of a tattoo — including covering up a tattoo with one you like better — but the laser tattoo removal process is the most reliable. So, how much does tattoo removal cost?
How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
Since tattoos themselves are all different, laser tattoo removal costs can vary wildly. With this in mind, it’s important that you don’t assume anything about your personal costs until you get a consultation with at least two to three different laser technicians.
According to the most recent statistics, the average cost of laser tattoo removal is $423 per session. But keep in mind that this is just an average and may not reflect your costs. Small tattoos can cost as little as $100 to $200 to remove. On the other hand, a large back piece with dark ink could cost as much as $4,500 to remove.
How are tattoo removal prices determined?
Most clinics will price a tattoo removal by deciding how many sessions are required to remove the tattoo. A typical tattoo removal session will cost anywhere from $50 to $500, with larger areas costing more.
In most cases, clinics will require you to have at least three sessions to get the tattoo removed. Some may need more, others may actually do well with less. Even so, you should plan for three to four laser treatments.
Are there alternatives to laser tattoo removal?
There are, but they aren’t always as effective or viable. To date, the only FDA-approved form of tattoo removal is laser tattoo removal. While certain creams may claim to offer complete tattoo removal, it’s not clear how safe or effective these treatments are.
At best, you might have a deeply faded tattoo. At worst, you may have a hospital trip in the future and possibly permanent scarring.
How does the tattoo removal process work?
The tattoo removal process involves a laser sending concentrated energy pulses to your body, which gets absorbed by the tattoo ink. These pulses help break apart the tattoo ink molecules, helping them fade faster.
Then your body’s immune system will flush out the ink remnants over the course of several weeks. You will need multiple treatments to get most of the ink out.
What factors affect the price of tattoo removal?
Laser tattoo doesn’t come cheap, but the cost can vary a lot depending on where you live, the size of the tattoo, and your type of skin. Here are the main factors to consider.
- Location and doctor’s office. Both the doctor you choose and the doctor’s office will impact the price. For instance, doctors on the East Coast tend to charge the most. And if you go to an office that has a fair amount of fame, you’ll likely pay a premium price.
- Laser types. Certain lasers cost more to operate than others. If you have a highly effective laser that can offer complete tattoo removal in fewer sessions, you may pay extra for the convenience.
- Tattoo size. Obviously, larger tattoos cost more to remove than smaller ones.
- Ink quality. Dark black ink tends to cost more, simply because it tends to take longer to remove.
- Ink color. Red and black tattoos tend to take very well to laser treatments. Others may need more sessions to reasonably fade.
- Tattoo area. Certain areas may require more sessions or may require additional care before it’s totally removed.
- Skin tone. People with darker skin tones may require more sessions to remove a tattoo. This is because the laser’s heat is more dispersed over darker skin, meaning the doctor must be more conservative with the laser treatment, which requires more sessions. Without these precautions, patients could experience side effects like hyperpigmentation.
How can you pay for tattoo removal?
Tattoo removal comes with a hefty price these days, but doctors often will do what they can to make it easy to pay. The methods below are the most common.
Cash is king. If you want to make sure that you can go to any clinic you want, you can always use cash, and you may even be able to negotiate a discount.
There are two main types of credit cards you can use. You can use medical credit cards, which are dedicated for use solely at doctors’ offices. Most clinics have at least one card they accept.
If they don’t accept medical cards, then you can usually use a regular credit card to pay for the bills. Think twice before paying with a credit card unless you can pay it off before the balance is due. Interest rates on credit cards can get expensive fast. To avoid interest for as long as possible, try applying for a credit card with a 0% APR introductory offer.
For extremely large pieces, you may want to look for financing through medical loans or personal loans. This is a better option than credit, primarily because it will give you lower interest rates. However, you may have to apply for the loan a month or more ahead of time.
To get a better idea of what loan terms you may qualify for, take a look at the personal loan lenders below.
Installment payment plans
While most clinics won’t offer in-house installment loans, some will. Ask your clinic if they offer installment payment plans for their clients and, if so, what the qualifications are for this type of plan. You might be surprised at what it could mean for you.
Do you have tattoos that are related to criminal activity, hate, or gang life? If so, then you may actually be able to get your tattoo removal at a low cost. Many organizations offer free laser tattoo removal for people who want to get out of the “life.”
In some cases, you don’t even need to be gang associated to have the tattoo removed. You may be able to find some clinics that do occasional charity care for people who have facial tattoos or tattoos on their hands that prevent them from getting a decent job.
You don’t have to live with that constant reminder of your past, nor do you have to let it affect your future. In some cases, you can also ask a charity artist to cover up the tattoo instead.
Does insurance cover tattoo removal?
Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover tattoo removal. Laser tattoo removal is not considered to be a medically necessary procedure, so clients have to plan ahead and come up with funds on their own.
Can a tattoo be 100% removed?
Yes, you can totally remove a tattoo. That’s why laser tattoo removal is popular.
Is it painful to get a tattoo removed?
It depends on your sensitivity. Many people do feel a noticeable sting with it and would describe it as painful. It is usually likened to a bad sunburn, slightly less painful than getting the tattoo itself.
What tattoos cannot be removed?
Certain tattoo inks have a harder time getting removed, including light blue, purple, yellow, and orange. Each individual is different, and some lasers may be too powerful to use on very sensitive areas, such as genitalia.
Does tattoo removal leave a scar?
There is a small chance that you may get a scar on your body if you have sensitive skin. However, most clients do not see any visible scarring after their treatment.
Do old tattoos remove easier?
Yes, old tattoos have a tendency to be removed easier than fresh tattoos. When you get a tattoo, the tattoo fades over time, though it is mostly permanent.
However, there are always exceptions to the rules. Some people will need more treatments regardless of what they have on them.
- On average, a client will pay $423 per session to remove a tattoo.
- Laser tattoo removal can cost anywhere from $200 to upwards of $4,500, depending on multiple factors, such as size, location, and skin tone.
- If your tattoo is a result of gang activity or impedes you from getting a job, you may be able to qualify for charity tattoo removal.
- Most clinics will accept cash, credit card, and medical credit card when it comes to paying down the tattoo removal cost.
- Laser tattoo removal is the only FDA-approved procedure for tattoo removal.
View Article Sources
- Directory of U.S. free or low-cost tattoo removal programs — Jails to Jobs
- Tattoo Removal: Options and Results — U.S. Drug and Food Administration
- Tattoo Removal Program — Government of Placer, California
- Are Medical and Dental Expenses Tax Deductible? — SuperMoney
- Plastic Surgery Financing: How To Pay For Plastic Surgery — SuperMoney
- A Complete Guide to Elective Medical Loans — SuperMoney
- Ultimate Guide to Medical Financing — SuperMoney
- Best Plastic Surgery Loans — SuperMoney