Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Laser Tattoo Removal : How Many Treatments Are Required ?

This remains one of the most popular question when discussing laser tattoo removal with our patients. Although laser tattoo removal is considered the current treatment of choice given its safety and efficacy, it is difficult to quantify the exact number of treatments required as multiple factors affect the treatment outcome.

Firstly, let's understand how laser tattoo removal works

Laser energy penetrates skin to break up tattoo ink particles which will be eliminated by our body's immune system over time. Multiple sessions are required as not all ink particles can be broken up in a single treatment.

6 Factors that Influence the Number of Laser Tattoo Removal Treatments Required :

Skin Type

Lighter skin types have a higher success rate for laser tattoo removal. It is also safe to treat patients with darker skin tones but more treatment sessions are required to minimize unwanted side effects.

Tattoo Location

Tattoos on anatomic regions with more blood and lymphatic supply such as the head and neck require less number of treatments compared to tattoos on fingers and toes. Close proximity to blood and lymphatic drainage facilitates our immune system to clear the tattoo ink particles.

Tattoo Colour

Black pigments are the easiest to remove followed by red. Other colors, such as green, yellow, and orange are more difficult to remove.

Amount of Tattoo Ink

The difference in the amount of ink lies within the type of tattoo - professional or amateur and the complexity of tattoo design. A professional tattoo with a complex design will contain more ink and thus requires more laser tattoo removal treatments.
Photo source : NCBI
Small and simple amateur tattoos are the easiest to treat as they contain relatively little ink.


Tattoo placement can sometimes lead to scarring. Tattoo pigments within a scar is more difficult to remove as our immune system cells cannot penetrate the area. A significant amount of scarring at the tattoo area causes more difficulty in laser tattoo removal and requires more treatment sessions compared to minimal or no scarring.

Tattoo Layering

Patients sometimes choose to cover up an undesirable tattoo with another tattoo. The new tattoo is usually larger and darker, hiding the previous tattoo in new contours and colours. Tattoo layering is expected to warrant additional treatments compared with normal tattoos.
So, while it is possible to have a tattoo removed, the process is not easy. In general, it may require from 3 to 15 treatments to achieve satisfactory results. Do seek advice from a licensed medical practitioner if you intend to get your tattoos removed.