How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost?

How Much Does Tattoo Removal Cost

Tattoos may seem like a great idea in the moment, but many people eventually have regrets about their ink. According to research, around 25% of people with tattoos eventually want them removed. With rising demand for tattoo removal, the costs in 2024 range on average from $150 to $500 per session depending on the method used and various other factors explored below.

This article will dive into the nitty gritty details about how much you can expect to pay for laser removal, surgical excision, dermabrasion, and other tattoo removal techniques in 2024. You’ll get a breakdown of the average costs per session, number of sessions needed, and total costs so you can make an informed decision.

We’ll also look at the key factors that impact the price of tattoo removal, along with money-saving tips.

Overview of Tattoo Removal Methods and Costs

There are a few main methods of tattoo removal to choose from, each with their own price ranges:

  • Laser tattoo removal – The most common and cost-effective method long-term. Uses laser pulses to break up ink particles over multiple sessions. Average cost is $200 to $300 per session, with 5 to 10 sessions usually needed.
  • Surgical excision – The tattoo is cut out via surgery. More invasive with higher risk of scarring. Cost is $400 to $500 per session, with 1 to 3 sessions required.
  • Dermabrasion – Uses a rapidly rotating device to sand down the top layers of skin. Average of $200 per session with 4 to 8 sessions needed.

Below we’ll explore the costs and process of each method in more detail.

Laser Tattoo Removal Costs

Laser tattoo removal is by far the most common method, accounting for around 95% of all tattoo removals. During a laser removal session, short pulses of highly concentrated light are targeted at the tattoo, breaking up the ink particles in the skin. The body’s immune system then gradually flushes out the particles over the next few weeks.

Since it takes multiple treatments for full removal, laser removal costs typically range from $200 to $300 per session on average. Prices can start around $150 per session for very small or minimalist tattoos, while large intricate back pieces can cost up to $500 per session.

Most people need between 5 and 10 sessions spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart for complete removal. So in total, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $3,000 for full laser tattoo removal.

Here are some other factors that influence the price per session:

  • Size of the tattoo – Larger and more intricate tattoos require more pulses and time to remove, increasing the per session cost.
  • Ink color – Black ink is the easiest and cheapest to remove. Other darker colors like blues and purples are moderately difficult. Bright colors like red, green, yellow and orange are the most challenging (and expensive) to remove.
  • Body location – Areas like the spine and chest are more complex to treat, raising costs compared to arms, legs or back. Sensitive areas also require extra care and precision.
  • Number of treatments needed – Typically 5 to 10 sessions are needed, but some tattoos may take 15 or more treatments depending on size and pigment. The more sessions, the higher the overall cost.
  • Clinic pricing – Removal prices can vary significantly based on geographic location, the clinic’s overhead costs, and the laser technology they use. Larger cities and specialized removal clinics tend to charge more.

Pro Tip: If getting a tattoo, choose black ink only for easier future removal!

Surgical Excision & Dermabrasion Costs

For those looking to remove their tattoo as quickly as possible, surgical excision and dermabrasion are faster alternatives to laser treatment.

During surgical excision, the tattoo is literally cut out via a scalpel or other surgical instruments. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area being removed. This method costs on average $400 to $500 per session, with most people needing just 1 to 3 sessions spaced several weeks apart for complete removal. Total costs typically range from $400 on the very low end up to $1,500 or more for large and complex tattoos.

Dermabrasion uses a rapidly rotating mechanical device to essentially sand off the top layers of skin until the tattoo ink is reached. Usually, a type of anesthesia is used as well. Average per-session costs are around $200. You’ll need between 4 to 8 sessions spaced a month or two apart for full removal, so expect total dermabrasion costs to be $800 to $1,600.

The downsides of surgical excision and dermabrasion are that they are more invasive, can lead to prominent scarring, have longer healing times, and are better suited to smaller tattoos. For large or intricate tattoos, laser remains the gold standard. But for single-color tattoos under 2 inches, surgical removal is a quicker and potentially cheaper overall option.

Additional Tattoo Removal Costs

Beyond the main removal methods, there are some additional costs to keep in mind:

  • Anesthesia – This may be needed for surgical excision or some laser clinic offer numbing creams or injections for an added fee.
  • Aftercare products – Antibiotic ointments, bandages, medical tape and other supplies for proper aftercare and healing. This can add $20 or more per session.
  • Tips – Many people tip their laser technician or surgeon, which tacks on another 5% to 20% per session.
  • Touch ups – If full removal takes more sessions than initially estimated, touch up fees will apply. Also correcting any poor treatments elsewhere could cost extra.
  • Removal of any failed treatments – If a removal attempt leads to a botched or disfigured tattoo, additional treatments or revisions may be needed, adding to the overall cost.

Tattoo Removal Costs in 2024

With rising inflation in 2022-2023, tattoo removal prices are also seeing an uptick going into 2024. Here’s what to expect:

  • Laser removal per session costs – Increased 8-15% over 2022 averages, now ranging from $215 to $350 per session on average.
  • Surgical excision per session – Up 10-20% from 2022, now $440 to $600 on average.
  • Dermabrasion per session – Increased less than other methods, now $210 to $220 per session typically.
  • Number of sessions needed – Remains unchanged, though some clinics report needing more sessions for full removal possibly due to economic pressures to charge more.
  • Discounts – Fewer new client discounts, specials and package deals available compared to 2022. More expensive upfront costs.

The bottom line is expect to pay 10-15% more across the board for tattoo removal in 2024 compared to previous years. Take inflation into account when budgeting and shopping around for top value.

Price Comparison of Tattoo Removal Methods

Here’s a quick overview of the average per session costs, number of sessions needed, and total tattoo removal costs for the most common options:

Removal MethodAverage Cost Per SessionSessions RequiredTotal Cost
Laser Removal$200-$3005 to 10$1,000-$3,000
Surgical Excision$400-$5001 to 3$400-$1,500
Dermabrasion$2004 to 8$800-$1,600

As you can see, laser removal ends up being the most cost effective approach for completely removing a tattoo over time. The higher per session costs of surgical excision are offset by fewer sessions needed. For very small tattoos, surgical excision or dermabrasion costs may be cheaper overall.

Does Insurance Cover Tattoo Removal?

The majority of health insurance plans do not cover tattoo removal since it is considered an elective cosmetic procedure. However, there are some exceptions: Some insurance companies will cover tattoo removal for reconstructive purposes, such as removing gang, hate or trauma related tattoos. Certain medical reasons like MRI complications or tattoo allergies may also qualify for insurance coverage. Active military members can sometimes access free or discounted removal of problematic tattoos that violate dress code regulations.

Your best bet is to call your insurance provider directly and check if tattoo removal is covered under your specific plan. Be sure to document any medical or reconstructive necessity for the tattoo removal if requesting coverage.

How to Get the Best Value on Tattoo Removal

If paying for removal out of pocket, here are some tips to get quality service at the best value: Shop around and get consultations with several providers in your area. Compare their prices, methods, and experience. See if any clinics offer new client discounts or package deals for multiple sessions upfront. This could save 10-20%. Check Groupon and similar sites for tattoo removal deals in your area. Many run periodic discounts. Opt for fewer, larger sessions rather than more smaller ones.

The cost per pulse is lower if they do more per session. Consider a clinic with advanced laser technology like picosecond lasers which remove ink faster for fewer sessions. Join tattoo removal rewards programs for perks like free sessions after a set amount of visits.

Conclusion: Tattoo Removal Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

While rarely cheap, understanding the average pricing and cost factors allows you to budget smartly for tattoo removal. With some savvy shopping, discounts and tips above, you can undergo removal without breaking the bank.

The typical price range is $150 to $500 per session depending on the method, with laser removal offering the best value long-term. Surgical excision costs more per session but requires fewer visits. Newer technologies like picosecond lasers are also making removal faster and more affordable.

At the end of the day, your happiness and confidence are priceless. So whether you have tattoo regret or are seeking a fresh canvas, weigh the multitude of options to find an affordable removal solution that works for you.

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