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Center of Dermatology and Laser Surgery of Philadelphia

Tattoo Removal

before and after laser tattoo removal treatment

Dr. Ringpfeil: “After performing laser tattoo removal treatments for over 18 years, only now, with the introduction of the Picosure laser, I can say that tattoos can be removed in a reasonable time and at reasonable cost. “

Traditionally, patients who went through tattoo removal treatments indicated a low level of satisfaction. It was common that 20 or more treatments were needed to achieve good results, clearance was not always possible, and overall cost had no limit.

While removing a tattoo is still a challenge, the Picosure laser is able to achieve it in less than half the number of treatments required by any other laser. Since the introduction of the Picosure 532nm hand piece in early 2015, we can remove effectively not only the black, green, and blue pigments, but also the yellow, red, and orange pigments.

Picosure does not use heat to break up the tattoo’s pigment. Instead, the picosecond wavelength delivers short energy pulses (photomechanical waves rather than heat) that shatter the ink into small particles that our body can get rid of faster and more effectively.

Treatment effectiveness factors

The effectiveness of the treatment depends also on other factors. The main factors are:

  1. Location on the body – Areas with strong blood circulation are favorable for tattoo removal. Our immune system uses the blood system to transport the pigments away from our body.
  2. Type of ink – Ink technology varies. Some ink types, especially those common in the far east, are more stable and resistant to pressure produced by the lasers.
  3. Color of ink – Darker pigments absorb more of the laser beams and as a result, darker pigments are easier to remove. The lighter pigments let some of the energy go through without affecting the tattoo.
  4. Amount and density of ink – The laser breaks up the pigment and the body transports the small pieces away. It is more difficult to shatter dense ink and as a result, additional treatment may be needed.
  5. Person health – A stronger immune system can remove the foreign ink particles more efficiently than a compromised immune system.
  1. Skin color – Dark skin may absorb some of the energy delivered. As a result, less energy targets the ink and there is a risk that the laser can damage the skin pigment. To avoid damage to the skin pigment the energy level must be carefully adjusted during a spot test session.

Time span needed to remove a tattoo

When a person decides to remove a tattoo, he or she wants it to be removed immediately. Unfortunately, we depend on our immune system’s ability to remove the ink. While frequent treatments can accelerate the removal process, it may require more treatments which result in higher cost to remove the tattoo.

The longer we wait between treatments the more time we give our body to remove the pigment parts and therefore, fewer treatments may be needed. To make the treatment most cost effective, we recommend at least 8 weeks between treatments. In most cases 4-8 treatments may be needed. Therefore, you should expect to complete the removal process within 15 months of treatment.

Cost to remove a tattoo

The cost of a treatment is usually determined by the tattoo size in square inches. While the price per treatment of a couple of square inches can range between $60-$300, the cost of a treatment of 20 square inches usually ranges between $700-$1400.

Obviously the total cost to remove a tattoo is the cost of treatment times the number of treatments required to remove the tattoo. While customers can find out the price per treatment in a (usually free) consultation, the number of treatments stay unknown until results from the first few treatments are observed.

To eliminate the unknown, we provide our customers at their consultation with the cost per treatment and the number of treatments we believe are required to remove their tattoo. Our experience enables us to estimate accurately. However, if additional treatments may be needed beyond our estimated number, we will discount the following 2 treatments by 50% and any treatment thereafter by 80%.


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