USA Today featured Dr. Bruce Katz in an article about Laser Tattoo Removal.
How much is tattoo removal?
Tattoo removal can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per session, says Dr. Bruce Katz, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of the JUVA Skin and Laser Center in New York City.
How does tattoo removal work?
When you get a tattoo, the ink molecules are too big for your lymphatic system to drain, Katz says. Tattoo removal lasers cause an acoustic reaction, meaning the laser energy is absorbed by the ink and causes it to explode into small particles. The lymphatic system can then take them away.
After several sessions, you’ll be left with a scab that you should treat just like you did when you got the tattoo – wash it with soapy water and apply an ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline for a few days, Katz advises.
“The laser energy has to go through the epidermis, the outer surface, in order to get down to the dermis,” Katz says. “So it causes a disruption of the epidermis and that’s why people get a scab after the treatment.”
How long does tattoo removal take?
The number of sessions you’ll need to fully remove a tattoo depends on the laser the office uses.
According to Katz, the two most commonly used lasers are: Q-switched Nd: Yag lasers, which remove the tattoo without scarring but take between 10-15 treatments, and picosecond lasers, newer machines that work in just five to seven treatments.
“The length of time that the laser beam is hitting the skin is much shorter, so it can actually break up the tattoo particles into much smaller pieces than the Q-switched lasers,” Katz says of Picosecond lasers.
The color of your tattoo also makes a difference. You’ll want to find a tattoo removal service that specializes in your color.
“To remove these tattoos adequately, you need the right wavelength laser to address those specific colors,” Katz says. “If people go to certain offices that don’t have the right number of lasers, they’re going to take a lot longer to treat these tattoos and really not be able to completely remove them because some of the colors are not gonna respond.”