How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost? And How Much Should You Pay?

Person tattoo

You may have two tattoo removal professionals in one county, but each of them will charge differently. Many things things will affect the cost of this very specialized service. Understanding these factors and how they influence tattoo removal pricing will help you estimate tattoo removal costs. That way, you can budget accordingly.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Tattoo Removal

You need to consider several important factors when asking, “How much does tattoo removal cost?” These will help you come up with a set of criteria that will then help you to decide which tattoo removal expert you should hire. How accurate your criteria are, in relation to your needs, will also determine whether you get the best value for your money.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on tattoo appearance?

When it comes to determining the cost of your tattoo removal procedure, bear in mind that a tattoo’s appearance matters a lot. Prices may vary according to the size of the tattoo, the ink color or colors, the depth of the tattoo, and more.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on size?

How big is your tattoo? Larger tattoos also tend to be more elaborate. But even if they are not, their sheer size guarantees that they will cost more to get rid of just like they cost more to create. After all, more ink has been used to create them. Think of Ben Affleck’s back tattoo for example. Tattoo removal costs for such a tattoo would be far much higher than the cost of removing say, Bella Hadid’s tiny black angel wings on her ankles. Size matters. And it determines how much money you will have to shell out to get rid of body art that you no longer want.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on ink color?

Not all inks are created equal. Did you know that? Some tattoo inks are much easier to remove than others. When you undergo procedures like laser tattoo removal, you can expect black ink to absorb all the light wavelengths, break up, and fade much faster. Other color hues like yellow, purple, and blue are more stubborn. They require specific light wavelengths to remove. They also absorb laser light at a much lower rate. As a result, they may end up costing more to get rid of.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on ink depth and quality?

How much ink was used to create your tattoos may determine the depth of those tattoos. Its quality also matters. Professional tattoo artists tend to use more ink to create body art as opposed to amateurs. For this reason, professionally-created tattoos are inked deeper into the skin and are much more difficult to remove. Conversely, home-made tattoos will be much easier to remove since amateurs often tend to create shallow tattoos. The cost of removal will, therefore, be cheaper for these superficial tattoos that have been done in an amateurish way.

That said, the chemicals used in the tattoo ink also matter. Heavy metal compounds like beryllium and chromium may make tattoo inks much more difficult to remove. The components of homemade inks, some of which professionals are not even familiar with, also affect its quality and ability to penetrate the skin. Removing some of these inks from your body may be more labor-intensive than you would expect. For this reason, you may have to dig deeper into your pocket to pay for tattoo removal services.

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How much does tattoo removal cost based on the procedure?

There are a number of tattoo removal procedures that exist currently. Each of them has pros and cons. Some work much faster than others do. Also, some are more effective in removing particular tattoo ink colors than others are. Besides, the complexity of a tattoo removal procedure will also affect your overall costs.

Laser tattoo removal

For example, the average cost of a laser tattoo removal session is $200 to $500 typically. If you take advantage of offers from sites like Groupon, then you may be able to lower that average price range to between $150 and $200. However, you may be able to find sessions that cost less if you shop around. It all depends on the kind of laser treatment that you intend to use to get rid of your body inkings. Laser tattoo removal is non-invasive and quite popular for that reason.

Surgical tattoo removal

You could also opt to undergo dermabrasion to remove your tattoo. Dermabrasion is, as the name suggests, using an abrasive tool to "sand" the tattoo from your skin. This is a surgical procedure carried out by a dermatologist, and it's not cheap. You can expect to pay an average of $1,170. Remember, that’s the cost of the dermabrasion alone, minus other treatment factors like anesthesia.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on the number of sessions?

Your tattoo may require more than one removal session before it's completely gone. And the number of sessions will affect the total cost value of your tattoo removal procedure. 

That number is dependent on aspects like the size and complexity of your tattoo, the kind of removal procedure that you select, and how effective it is, as well as the ink quality and depth. All these factors are intertwined and can make a heavy dent on your pocket if you choose the wrong tattoo removal method.

Generally speaking, the total number of tattoo removal sessions varies widely from 3 to 10 sessions for popular procedures like laser removal. Some tattoos may require as many as 12 sessions, with each spaced between 6 and 8 weeks apart. Dermabrasion also varies in terms of the number of sessions and the resulting costs. However, if your tattoo is not too deep, this method, though painful, may end up being cheaper overall compared to other tattoo removal methods.

tattoo artist arm

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How much does tattoo removal cost based on a doctor’s reputation?

The reputation of the skin doctor or other professional that you choose for your tattoo removal is important. It determines, somewhat, the costs that you will incur to get rid of your ink. Reputation, in this case, refers to the academic qualifications, fame, and experience the tattoo removal expert has within his or her field of study and work.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on the brand value of the doctor?

You could have two board-certified cosmetic dermatologists, but if one of them has starred in "Drs. 90210" like Dr. Will Kirby or "The Doctors" show like Dr. Sonia Batra, then what they charge you may end up being very different. That’s what branding is all about. Some skin doctors are more famous than others. They have or may continue to star on reality shows and often have guest spots on other TV shows as well. Others are thought-leaders in their fields and have published lots of articles and books.

Famous skin experts are celebrities in their own right. They have a highly visible brand. Such professionals don't need marketing -- their reputation precedes them. For that reason, many skin doctors of this kind are in a position to name their price. In order for you to access their services or those offered in their clinics, you may have to pay more for the privilege. Alternatively, you could opt for a similarly qualified doctor who is not famous and save money.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on academic qualifications?

The academic qualifications of tattoo removal experts vary. Both tattoo removal technicians and cosmetic dermatologists are capable of getting rid of your inkings. But the educational paths that they took to become professionals in their fields are different. And that difference will affect the price of their services.

Cosmetic dermatologists

Cosmetic dermatologists are fully qualified MDs that undergo medical training that takes anywhere from 9 to 11 years. In addition to getting tattoo removal training, they can handle other dermatological conditions that affect the hair, nails, and skin. They can also do additional procedures like dermabrasion and Botox injections.

Certified technicians

On the other hand, we have technicians who have trained in courses like laser tattoo removal. They usually undergo vocational training, the duration of which depends on the certification. But most of the time, these courses take a short time. They usually work under the supervision of better-trained experts in environments like a dermatologist’s clinic.

How much you pay for tattoo removal depends on which of these two professionals handle you. Whereas a cosmetic dermatologist will charge you an average of $136 per hour, a laser technician, on the other hand, earns an average of about $18 per hour. In any case, ask to see a sample of their work to help you decide if hiring any given professional will be money well spent.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on a professional's experience?

The longer a tattoo removal expert works in the field, the better that professional gets. For that reason, the experience of a tattoo removal expert matters. Someone who has worked for longer in the tattoo removal sector will be able to demand higher prices. That person probably has an established reputation and does not need to advertise to get a constant stream of clients. The demand for that professional’s services is much higher. After all, they know more and are less likely to make mistakes. Complications associated with their services are fewer.

In contrast, tattoo removal professionals who have worked for a shorter time are less likely to be trustworthy in the eyes of customers. They need to work on building a reputation in the industry. Since there is a lower demand for their services, they are forced to charge lower prices. That’s why you may find cheaper dermatologists charging $100 to $170 per hour and more expensive ones billing $200 or more hourly. With this in mind, you could opt for a tattoo removal professional who has worked for a shorter time in the sector if you want to save money. But you need to make sure that such a person is still good at his or her work and comes highly recommended.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on location?

How much does tattoo removal cost based on location? Well, that depends on the geographical area in which you intend to get tattoo removal services. It also depends on the health care environment in which your services will be provided.

A regular clinic vs. a medical spa

The cost of getting your tattoos out will depend on whether you go to a regular clinic or medical spa. A medical spa is a spa that offers medical services under the care of a medical health practitioner. Whereas in a clinic you would receive tattoo removal services for a short while, then go home to await the next session. A medical spa offers additional services. These are meant to pamper you, make you relax, and to enhance your health and appearance. You can also attend educational sessions and buy additional products on offer that will help you look and feel great. However, these extras may add to the cost of your tattoo removal costs, so bear that in mind.

How much does tattoo removal cost based on geographical location?

Some states are more expensive than others. The high cost of living in such locations pushes up the prices of products and services as well. The higher the cost of living in a state, the more expensive it is to live there. For example, some of the most expensive states to live in are Hawaii, Washington DC, and New York, respectively. At the same time, some of the least expensive states to live in are Indiana, Georgia, and Alabama, respectively.

When you take a look at the hourly salary of a cosmetic dermatologist in these areas, you will notice a difference in their values. Cosmetic dermatologists have an average salary of $348,984 in Hawaii, while those in Indiana have an average salary of $314,297. That’s a difference of over $34,000. That difference comes to about $2,800 monthly. And it must be accounted for in the hourly cost of service that you receive.

For this reason, it sometimes makes sense to find a qualified and experienced tattoo removal expert in a low cost of living state. That strategy works if you travel a lot across different regions in the U.S. and yet live in an expensive state. You can schedule your tattoo removal sessions to coincide with your work travels in a cheaper state and save quite a bit of money.

tattoo body art move painted woman

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So, How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost?

So, how much does tattoo removal cost? Well, it depends! It’s important that you bear in mind all the factors that affect the cost of removing your inkings before you begin to search for a skin doctor or tattoo removal technician. Pay close attention to the training and experience of the professional and the location and environment in which the services will be provided. Also, remember that your tattoo’s appearance -- size, shape, complexity, color, depth, and ink quality -- will affect your overall tattoo removal expenses as well. And if you want bragging rights associated with going to a clinic of a famous cosmetic dermatologist? Well, that will cost you more too.

Do you have a tattoo removal story you'd like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!

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