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Mysteries of Tattoo Removal Revealed

Mysteries of Tattoo Removal Revealed

Getting a tattoo is very personal. Usually a tattoo has meaning. Maybe it’s something you’ve planned for a long time, maybe it represents a loved one, something you cherish, or a night on the town you will never forget (or might not remember). Whatever the reason, tattoos are special.

Wearable art is an extension of you, but what happens when things change? You may grow out of your fondness for Motley Crue, your “Sea of Love” might eventually evaporate, or maybe the rebellious attitude of your youth is keeping your adult pocketbook from growing. I am willing to bet you had a solid reason to get your tattoo, but there just as many reasons to say “Goodbye” to your ink.

I’ve been doing tattoo removal for a long time, and I always hear the same questions:

  1. Will it hurt?  Yes. BUT…if you can handle getting the tattoo, you can handle laser tattoo removal. We use really cold air to “take the edge off” before we start treating you. The treatment is so quick. The session is usually over before you can shed a tear!
  2. Will it scar?  99% of the time the answer is NO. However, if you have a history of keloid or hypertrophic scars we will have to be cautious about treatment. We will need to watch how you react to each session to make sure scars aren’t forming. If you have no idea what “Keloid” or “Hypertrophic” means, you have nothing to worry about.
  3. Can you get the tattoo to go away completely?  Most of the time. There are a small percentage of patients that will have some ink that is stubborn and won’t go away. If that happens, it usually ends up looking like bruised skin rather than a tattoo.
  4. How much does it cost?  That all depends on size, color, design and the amount of ink in the tattoo. Prices start at $50 per session and go up from there. The average laser tattoo removal session will cost somewhere between $150 to $250 dollars. Keep it simple, bigger tattoos cost more to remove, just like they cost more to put on. No big mystery there.
  5. Is there a noticeable difference after one treatment?  Most patients start to see visible fading around sessions 2-3. Even though the laser is hitting the ink and breaking it apart, it takes time for the body’s scavenger system to find the shattered ink and move it to the scrap heap. Be patient, let your body do the heavy lifting.
  6. How many treatments will I need?  The average tattoo takes 7 to 10 treatments to remove. If your tattoo was done by your cousin’s friend in some dark garage at a party, it will probably take fewer treatments. Amateur tattoos have less ink, tend to be smaller, and fade more quickly than professional tattoos. We have seen tattoos completely go away after only 3 laser tattoo removal treatments, but, honestly it is rare for a tattoo to disappear that quickly. Almost everyone falls into the 7 to 10 treatment range. I always tell my patients to “plan for 10 and hope for 7.” We stick to the 10 treatment philosophy at Spa915. If for some reason your tattoo takes longer than 10 sessions to remove, we won’t charge you a penny after the 10th session. Sometimes it takes longer to remove a tattoo, but it’s nice to know that you won’t have to pay more if it takes more removal sessions than expected.
  7. How long do I have to wait between treatments?  6 weeks to 2 months. The laser shatters the ink and breaks it up into tiny pieces that your body can physically move. It takes a while for the ink collectors to move enough of the fragments for you to visibly notice a difference. Each time we treat your tattoo, we want to make sure we are hitting big solid pieces of ink and not just smashing the little fragments we made in the last session all over again. Laser tattoo removal takes time and, trust me, the waiting is the hardest part.
  8. Can you turn it up all the way so it will take fewer treatments?  No. Here is why. If we turn up the laser while you still have a lot of ink in the area the chances of having a bad reaction to the treatment goes up, way up (and so does the pain). On top of that, we just want to use the amount of energy needed to shatter the ink. Think about it, can you bust up an egg with a hammer? Of course. Will the pieces be any smaller with a sledgehammer? Nope. So using a bigger hammer won’t change the outcome of the treatment. We definitely want the ink to react to the laser, but we don’t need to put the laser into hyperdrive to get the job done.
  9. If I come in sooner, will my tattoo go away faster?  Meaning, “If I come in at 2 weeks instead of 6 weeks can I speed up the process?” No. First, you have to give your skin time to heal. Doing a laser tattoo removal treatment on skin that is healing from a previous treatment (or even a sunburn) is a really bad idea. Second, your body hasn’t had a whole lot of time to remove those little broken up ink particles. If you return for treatment too early, you will just be hammering on the same broken pieces of ink from your previous session. We want to laser-ize big pieces, not the ink we’ve already pulverized.
  10. Can you only treat part of the tattoo without removing the parts I want to keep?  Absolutely. We can totally fine tune the process. This is great for those of you who may have a really nice piece, but have a name or logo in it somewhere that you want to see gone, or maybe the tattoo extends to an area that is visible and it’s keeping you from landing your dream job. Either way, our laser can get the job done.

To make a long story short, laser tattoo removal does not erase your ink overnight. You have to commit to the process if you want your tattoo completely removed. Stay focused on your goal. Remember that laser tattoo removal is safe with very few side effects. Treatments are quick and effective. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be done. Your future is waiting.



Author Info

Dr. Dave Williams

Spa915 is El Paso's #1 choice for laser tattoo removal, laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation and the "Nail Fungus Cure." Spa915 was nominated for "Best of the Best" by What's Up magazine and "Best Spa in El Paso" by the City Magazine. Visit to learn more about what we have to offer.

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