One of the most important considerations people have when they seek laser tattoo removal is the cost. There are many factors that determine tattoo removal cost, including the size and complexity of the tattoo, the type of ink, the color and depth of ink, and the level of expertise of the specialist operating the laser. Aesthetic Surgery and Dermatology of Cherry Creek in Denver CO offers the latest laser tattoo removal technologies as affordably as possible.
How Much Does Laser Removal of a Tattoo Cost?
One of the first things to be done will be to evaluate your skin’s condition to assess how your skin tone and texture will respond to treatment. Then assess the size of the tattoo and assign a numerical value to it based on the Kirby-Desai Scale, which is a way to gauge the complexity of removing your tattoo.
Because they contain less ink and are located more superficially, amateur tattoos are easier to remove than professional tattoos. Cosmetic tattoos are even simpler to remove, requiring fewer sessions and having a lower overall cost.
The Kirby-Desai Scale
This scale was developed to help a laser tattoo removal practitioner give a more defined assessment to patients regarding the number of treatments they may need and the complexity level of their tattoo removal. This decreases any uncertainty about the process and gives more realistic outcome expectations.
In this scale, numerical values are assigned to six areas: tattoo location, tattoo color, amount of ink, skin type, and whether any scarring is present. These scores are then added up to yield a combined score that will reveal the estimated number of treatments needed to achieve the desired results. The higher your numerical value, the more complex your individual treatment plan will be.
In general, it is safe to say that bigger tattoos cost more to remove, but it is important to remember that color and type of tattoo are factors as well. A small turquoise tattoo might actually cost more to remove than a larger all-black tattoo. Because of the way lasers are calibrated to color wavelengths, some colors are more difficult to remove than others.
That being said, the general rule of thumb is that the larger the tattoo, the more you can expect to spend. The good news is there’s no rush to tattoo removal. You can break up the tattoo removal into segments, saving time and money between treatments. Not having to pay everything upfront can make the financial burden more manageable.
“Sunset” colors like reds, yellows, and oranges require more specific laser settings and calibrations. The more time-intensive the treatment is and the more specifics required, the more it is likely to cost. Simpler tattoos in shades of black, dark blue, or gray require fewer laser requirements and are easier to remove. These treatments will cost less.
Skin Tone and Quality
Because it is easier for lasers to recognize pigment colors when there is greater contrast between the ink and skin color, fair-skinned people seem to have the easiest time getting a tattoo removed. Darker-skinned people may need to take a few extra precautions to avoid skin discoloration, which may mean more sessions are needed.
Some areas of the body are more difficult to work on than others. Because tattoo removal relies on the immune response, areas with less blood circulation (like fingers and toes) will take longer to treat than others.
Age of Tattoo
Newer tattoos contain highly pigmented ink that will be more difficult to remove than older tattoos. As a tattoo ages, the pigment becomes less dense, which allows the laser to break it up more easily.
The Science of Laser Tattoo Removal
The Role of Immune Response
Your immune system is designed to wage war against intruders such as microorganisms and other foreign bodies that make their way into your bloodstream. Any time the body recognizes a particle or organism as foreign it releases white blood cells to mount an attack. While this is what keeps our bodies strong and resilient, it is also what gives tattoos their permanency.
When a tattoo is placed on the skin, these white blood cells, also called macrophages, attempt to “eat” the tattoo ink. Because the particles are too large for them to ingest, they aren’t able to eliminate them. However, they continue to surround the area in the hopes that they will eventually be able to do their job.
When they die off, new ones arrive to take their place. This continuous activity is what keeps the ink in place (and ultimately what removes it when the laser breaks these particles into more manageable sizes).
How Tattoo Removal Works
Tattoo removal is completed in phases alternating between laser treatment and several weeks of healing time. The process begins by using a powerful laser to penetrate the epidermis and dermis to break up the tattoo ink into particles.
The immune response activates, flooding the area with white blood cells that surround and remove the particles to be eliminated by the body. The immune response remains activated during the healing phase, preparing it for another round of laser treatment.
The Difference Between Nanosecond and Picosecond Lasers
When considering cost, the type of laser used for tattoo removal will play a role. There are two main types of lasers: nanosecond lasers and picosecond lasers. They both feature shorter pulse durations under the safety threshold of 30 nanoseconds. They really only differ in their spot sizes (how large a “spot” of tattoo ink they can target) and in the way they operate.
Often a combination of both types is used for the most effective laser treatment sessions. Nanosecond lasers have bigger spot-sizes and are better for working on darker pigments. On the other hand, picosecond lasers have ultra-short pulse durations that are more effective in treating bright colors.
About Nanosecond Lasers
Nanosecond lasers are the standard lasers most often used for tattoo removal. Their powerful beams run at a speed of about a billionth of a second, making them ideal for removing larger particles of ink and covering a broad area. They are especially good at removing darker inks.
They have been proven safe and efficient but typically require more treatment sessions than their picosecond laser counterparts. Nonetheless, they are still more convenient and cost-effective than previous technologies.
About Picosecond Lasers
Picosecond lasers evolved from the nanosecond laser technologies, improving their power and accuracy. Picosecond lasers have photoacoustic or photomechanical properties rather than photothermal properties, meaning that the skin does not heat up with treatment. This means less healing time between sessions and ultimately less monetary investment.
These lasers emit beams at one-trillionth of a second. Because of this, they are more suitable for small-sized tattoos or for finishing up the job that nanosecond lasers started. In fact, practitioners often switch to picosecond lasers following treatment with nanosecond lasers since the former is so good at cleaning up smaller pigment particles that get left behind.
Why Aesthetic Surgery and Dermatology of Cherry Creek Uses the PicoWay Laser
Aesthetic Surgery and Dermatology of Cherry Creek’s team are proud to offer state-of-the-art PicoWay laser tattoo removal with the PicoWay system as affordably as possible. It is convenient, versatile, and powerful, treating a wide array of tattoo types and colors.
PicoWay is a high power picosecond Q-switch laser that uses ultra-short pulses to hone in on tattoo pigments without damaging the surrounding skin. This laser is designed to be able to shatter tattoo ink into small particles while leaving the outer layer of skin intact. Because of this, it can treat a variety of skin types and textures.
Better for Skin
Because the PicoWay laser targets ink pigments using photo-acoustic, rather than photothermal, technology, it does not heat the skin. The ink is vaporized before the skin has a chance to overheat. This allows for greater patient comfort and less intrusiveness.
The PicoWay laser has proven itself as an effective treatment for tattoo removal, but it is also getting attention as a solution for other skin problems like acne, wrinkles, and dark spots. The laser stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, leaving the skin in arguably better condition than before.
Your treatment sessions should last less than an hour, and will not interrupt the course of your normal daily activities. Because the laser does not heat the skin, there is little to no downtime required. You can immediately return to your scheduled plans, with perhaps a little extra skin protection such as sunscreen and loose-fitting clothes.
How Often Should I Get Treatments?
Generally speaking, most people can count on a series of six to ten sessions. Because the body needs to heal between treatments, you can anticipate sessions to be scheduled at least eight to ten weeks apart.
Scheduling sessions to closely together can result in over-treatment, which comes with unpleasant and unnecessary side effects. That being said, the number of treatments needed will depend on a number of factors (including skin type, condition, tattoo ink, and timeframe.
Am I a Good Candidate?
A consultation is the first step. Address any concerns or questions you might have and give a thorough medical history. You will be asked about any medications you might be on and if you are currently receiving any skin treatments.
Get Started Today
Research has shown that an average of one in four American adults who have gotten a tattoo regret it. Don’t let tattoo regret affect your confidence and self-esteem. With the advent of new technologies, what was once a difficult process is now much more affordable and effective. Get started today by calling Aesthetic Surgery and Dermatology of Cherry Creek !