Laser Tattoo Removal: How Many Sessions Needed?

How Many Laser Tattoo Removal Sessions Are Needed

Tattoos can be cool when you first get them, but tastes change. Laser tattoo removal offers the best chance for completely erasing unwanted ink. But how many treatments will you likely need?

The number of laser sessions needed for full removal depends on several factors: tattoo color, age, size, location on your body, your immune system, and more.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the laser tattoo removal process and what impacts the number of sessions required to fade your unwanted tattoo.

Overview of Laser Tattoo Removal

Before diving into specifics on sessions needed, let’s first overview the laser removal process.

Laser removal is the go-to method for fully erasing unwanted tattoos. A technician uses a high-powered Q-switched laser that targets and breaks up the tattoo ink particles under your skin. Your body’s immune system then gradually flushes away these particles over time. Each successive laser session further breaks down and fades the ink.

With multiple treatments, the tattoo gets progressively lighter and less visible until completely gone. Many factors determine how quickly this fading occurs.

Laser Tattoo Removal

Key Factors That Influence Session Count

FactorImpact on Sessions Needed
Tattoo ColorAreas with good circulation like arms, legs, and back need fewer sessions (6-10) than hands, feet, joints (10-15+).
Tattoo AgeNewer tattoos under 2 years old fade faster and need fewer sessions (6-10). Older tattoos need more treatments (10-15).
Tattoo SizeSmall tattoos under 2″ need the fewest sessions (6-8). Large, complex tattoos need the most (12-15+).
Location on BodyAreas with good circulation like arms, legs, and back need fewer sessions (6-10) than hands, feet, and joints (10-15+).
Immune System ResponseA healthy immune system that can flush ink faster leads to fewer sessions needed.
Tattoo QualityProfessionally done tattoos are harder to remove and need 2-3 more sessions than amateur tattoos.

What Factors Impact the Number of Laser Sessions Needed?

The number of laser treatments needed varies widely but averages around 6 to 12 sessions. Very small, simple tattoos may only need a few treatments, while large, complex, colorful tattoos could need 15 or more sessions.

These are the top factors that determine how many laser sessions will be required:

Tattoo Color

Darker tattoo pigments are easiest to break up and remove. Black ink only takes about 5 to 10 sessions for full removal.

By contrast, lighter colors like white, yellow, orange, pink, or purple are more stubborn. These can require 15 sessions or more before being fully erased.

Blue and green ink is moderately difficult, needing 8 to 12 sessions. In summary:

  • Black tattoos: 6-10 sessions
  • Blue/Green tattoos: 8-12 sessions
  • Purple/Pink/Red tattoos: 10-15 sessions
  • Yellow/Orange tattoos: 12-18 sessions
  • White tattoos: 15-20 sessions

Tattoo Age

Ink settles into your skin more over time, so newer tattoos are removed faster. Tattoos less than 6 months old may only need 4 to 6 sessions since the ink isn’t deeply embedded yet.

Tattoos under 2 years of age can often be removed in 6 to 10 treatments. Older, long-term tattoos have more settled pigment and require closer to 10 to 15 sessions.

Find Out More: Reduce Swelling After Tattoo Removal: 10 Tips

Tattoo Size

Larger, complex tattoos with more ink require more treatments. Small tattoos under 2 inches can be fully removed in 6 to 8 sessions.

Medium tattoos of 2 to 6 inches need 8 to 12 sessions. Large tattoos over 6 inches, like full-back pieces, can take 12 to 15 sessions for complete removal.

Location on Body

Areas on your body with better circulation and immune response tend to flush ink faster. Tattoos on arms, legs, back, chest, and stomach may fade quicker in 5 to 10 sessions.

Trickier areas are hands, feet, fingers, near joints, or high friction/flex areas. These fade slower and need more treatments. Areas with more fat tissue can also retain ink particles longer.

Immune System Response

Your body’s ability to break down and absorb the shattered ink particles impacts removal speed. If your immune system falters at flushing ink, fading takes longer no matter how well the laser breaks it up.

Health conditions, medications, lifestyle factors like smoking or diet, and genetics all play a role. A robust immune response shortens the process.

Tattoo Quality

Professional tattoos applied properly at tattoo shops are more challenging to remove than amateur, homemade tattoos. Pro tattoos go deeper into the skin and use higher-quality inks.

On average, professional tattoos require 2 to 3 more sessions to fully remove than homemade tattoos.

What Happens Each Session?

Each successive laser session further breaks apart and fades the tattoo pigment. You’ll notice gradual lightening and ink dispersal over time:

Sessions 1-3: The tattoo noticeably lightens and fades. About 25% or more is removed by session 3.

Sessions 4-6: The tattoo continues to fade and is around 75% removed. The outline and edges get fuzzier.

Sessions 7-10: Ink is fully shattered by the laser. The remaining particles are flushed away by the body. The tattoo is completely gone.

It takes time between sessions for your body to absorb and expel the ink particles. Waiting at least 6 to 8 weeks allows this. Don’t rush sessions.

Find Out More: How to Remove a Tattoo Naturally

What Happens Each Session

Proper Aftercare Between Sessions

Taking proper care of your skin between laser sessions helps the removal process. Follow your clinic’s post-treatment instructions, but guidelines include:

  • Keeping the treated area clean and moisturized as it heals
  • Avoiding sun exposure which can darken ink
  • No baths, swimming pools, or hot tubs until healed
  • Not picking at scabs or crusts
  • Using cooling gels or ice packs to ease discomfort

Proper aftercare keeps your skin healthy so it can flush ink and heal faster over successive treatments.

Am I a Good Candidate for Laser Tattoo Removal?

While most skin types can be treated, the best results happen for those with:

  • Good overall health
  • Light skin tones on the Fitzpatrick scale of I-III
  • Non-sensitive skin that is not prone to scarring
  • Realistic expectations on the number of sessions needed

Talk to a dermatologist about your particular skin type and health to see if you’re a good fit for laser removal. They can advise on risks and set proper expectations.

Some tattoo colors like yellows, greens, and blues are very stubborn even with laser removal. Be prepared for 10+ sessions if you have these pigments.

Find Out More: Does Tattoo Removal Cream Work 

Other Factors That Can Impact the Number of Sessions

Beyond the main elements above, other variables play a role in how many treatments you’ll need:

  • Laser type used – The latest Q-switched lasers work best. Older lasers require more sessions.
  • Technician skill – An experienced laser technician will get better results in fewer sessions.
  • Following aftercare – Properly caring for your skin between sessions boosts fading.

While every tattoo is different, today’s lasers provide the most advanced removal capabilities for erasing unwanted ink with fewer sessions than past options.

Be patient through the process and willing to undergo multiple treatments. With consistency, unwanted tattoos can be removed for good.

Find Out More: How to Remove Tattoos Safely and Permanently

The Bottom Line

Laser tattoo removal is the most reliable method for completely erasing unwanted body art. But how many sessions are required depends on your specific tattoo’s size, color, age, location and more.

On average, plan for 6 to 12 treatments. Properly caring for your skin between sessions helps optimize the fading and removal process over time.

While laser removal does take commitment, unwanted tattoos can be cleared for good with persistence through multiple sessions.

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