How Many Sessions Does It Take to Remove a Tattoo? [Key Factors]

Tattoos raze can be seen as a global phenomenon. People get tattooed for several reasons, from commemorating someone or showcasing your personality, symbolizing a relationship, etc.,

However, there are circumstances where you may want to get it removed. Reasons may be numerous such as:

  • Your current tattoo becomes outdated.
  • Poor design or change of preference/interest
  • Fading of tattoo colors
  • Work restrictions
  • To forget a past relationship
  • Trying to explore a new design

Tattoo removal is quite a demanding and expensive procedure. Please don’t consider it on the same level as it appeared.

Getting tattooed costs ten times cheaper and is less time-consuming compared to tattoo removal. The procedures and number of sessions required to complete the process are totally different from each other. 

How Many Sessions Does It Take to Remove a Tattoo?

Tattoo removal practitioner helps patients lessen the appearance of their tattoos safely and efficiently. One of the first things patients should understand is that tattoo removal is not always considered a quick fix. One has to visit the clinic or studio multiple visits before their tattoo is gone.

Hence the most common query is how many sessions does it take to remove a tattoo?

Tattoo removal sessions can be taking about 6 to 10 removal sessions, and it is compulsory to take about 4-6 weeks healing break between sessions. The following factors determine the number of sessions.

1. Skin Tone

Most dermatologists suggest a rough estimate of the number of sessions to their clients depending on their skin tone.

Relying on the Fitzpatrick scale (1-6), the lesser your reading, i.e., 1, the lighter your skin shade is and larger the scale (say 6), then darker your skin tone is.

It is believed that more sessions are required for people scoring high on the scale. For example, the laser technique is more effective on lighter skin, needing fewer sessions.

2. Size of Tattoo

According to tattoo removal, specialists’ larger tattoos take more time than small ones, such as a small floral design that may sometimes take as little as 15 minutes per session.

Intricate and complex design (half-sleeve design) on upper arms may take several sessions that may spread over a year.

3. Location of Tattoo

The location of tattoo is another very critical factor that decided the number of sessions to remove it.

If the tattoo is on relatively low sensitive parts of the body, then, it can be removed relatively faster, takes short time for healing, hence, fewer sessions would be enough. But if the tattoo is at sensitive places, then, it requires more sessions to remove it.

4. Ink/Color 

Smaller, lighter & less colored tattoos are more accessible to remove than large, darker, and multiple-colored tattoos. Tattoo inks such as black, brown, and green can be removed faster than others as they are more receptive to the laser wavelength.

A black-colored tattoo may require only a single session, whereas a tattoo with multiple colors may take 4-5 sessions. The volume of ink applied to a tattoo also affects the sessions. A moderately inked tattoo may be removed in about three sessions. 

5. Age of Tattoo

To put things simply, older tattoos require less time to get removed than new tattoos (about 12 months). Tattoo inks fade with time or when exposed to the sun.

Hence older design is less visible and quick to remove. Again, a new tattoo needs more healing time in between sessions.

6. Other Factors

Factors such as scarring, cover-ups, etc., also play a significant role in determining the number of sessions needed for tattoo removal. Tattoos may or may not have scars.

But if they have, then added sessions are required to remove those scarring. Again, if any tattoo is done on another tattoo, it will require more sessions to remove the complete design. 

Tattoos Sessions Depending on Different Removal Techniques

It is not entirely incorrect to say tattoos are permanent as the ink granules are injected into your epidermis. To remove the same is a highly complex process. But with time, tattoo removal technology has improved manifold. Moreover, the service has become widely available.

From derma clinics to tattoo studios, all are now equipped with modern technology to offer you their services. The most common and popular ways to get a tattoo removed are:

1. Through Traditional laser technology

Among all available options for tattoo removal, laser tattoo removal is considered the best. It is safe and fast, with the highest likelihood of leaving your skin intact and without scarring in the area.

During the process, laser beams remove ink by sending a pulse of energy that heats the ink in your skin and breaks apart ink particles, thereby dissolving it.

It should be noted that the laser technique doesn’t altogether remove a tattoo, but it fades it to the lightest, so it’s much less noticeable.

Lighter-skinned people are ideal candidates for laser technique as this treatment can change the color of darker skin.

However, with the advent of laser technology such as Q-switched Nd: YAG laser treatment, even dark complexions, people can opt for the laser method.

Further, you need multiple sessions (say about 5-10) that may last several weeks or longer, depending on the type of your tattoo.

2. Skin/surgical excision

With this surgical method, the tattoo is cut out of the skin and stitching the surrounding skin back together. The procedure is done in a cosmetic clinic under the supervision of a qualified doctor who injects your skin with a local anesthetic.

The skin excision method leaves a scar on the skin. However, the cost of removal is pretty less than compared to other techniques like laser or dermabrasion.

Being the most invasive type of treatment for tattoo removal, it’s the only guaranteed method of completely removing a tattoo.

This one-time session technique lasting for about a couple of hours or more is suitable for small-sized tattoos. Attempting to remove a large size tattoo may involve cutting just too much skin.

3. Dermabrasion

The dermabrasion method is an effective method for removing tattoos but very expensive. The tattoo can be removed entirely in about five to six months duration.

This method of tattoo removal is done in a cosmetic or dermatologist clinic. It involves freezing the area of the tattoo with a chemical and then using a sanding or rotating abrasion brushing device to remove layers of skin to allow ink to leach out.

The technique requires several sessions, including the in-between healing interval time. The method is not recommended for people with sensitive and allergic skin.

The freezing chemical that acts as a blood thinner may lead to bleeding, bruising, and skin pigment changes. one must consider all pros and cons of the method before going for this method.

4. Chemical peel

Chemical peel method involves applying a mild acid such as Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol to the tattooed skin. The outer layer of skin gets swabbed and along with the same the tattoo inks.

This technique doesn’t require any time of anesthetic. Like dermabrasion and surgical method, it also needs good aftercare as it leaves the bearer with an open wound prone to infections. This is a DIY method as you can purchase them online and apply them yourself.  

Wrapping Up

Tattoo removal may take over a year to completely eliminate the ink. This is because the skin needs time to heal between sessions and for your body to flush the ink away. It is advisable to wait for about 4- 6 weeks between sessions, especially laser.

Also, do not ever try to squeeze treatments together. It may have a dangerous effect on your skin. Do keep in mind to follow the instruction of your doctor or practitioner carefully. 

Drinking plenty of water, oiling/massaging the treated area, and other aftercare regimes will fetch your good results.

A word of caution: Don’t forget to consult your healthcare provider if you have a health condition like a pre-existing skin allergy. Before going for the treatment, you may be prescribed medication to prevent triggering situations like herpes, etc., to flare up. You have to select an option that best suits your health condition after consulting your dermatologist.