Laser tattoo removal is quickly becoming a popular aesthetic procedure for patients across all demographics. Tattoo regret is a common experience for many Americans, and laser removal is the only solution for removing ink without permanent side effects or scarring.
The Basic Overview
Laser tattoo removal works by sending light energy into the skin, heating up the tattoo ink particles, and shattering them. Then, over the following weeks, the body’s lymphatic system gradually flushes the fragmented tattoo ink particles away from the site of the tattoo. As more of the fragments are flushed away, the visibility of the tattoo fades until it can no longer be seen.
Many patients think that tattoo removal involves a “burning off” of the tattoo. This simply isn’t the case. Laser tattoo removal simply speeds up the natural fading process that happens to tattoos over time. For example, an old tattoo that has faded over time looks much like a recent tattoo that has undergone one laser treatment.
The Treatment Process
Most patients require 5 to 10 laser treatments, spaced at least 6 weeks apart, to see the desired end result. Many patients are happy to undergo the process and return for multiple treatments, as the patient will notice fading progress after each treatment.
There is a very clear reason why multiple treatments are needed. When a tattoo is applied, the tattooing needle inserts at varying depths within the skin tissue. As a result, tattoo ink rests in multiple layers within the skin (inside the dermis). Each laser treatment shatters the most shallow layer of ink. Each progressive laser treatment shatters successively deeper layers of ink until none remain.
The waiting period between treatments is important, too. The first two weeks allows the body to heal in the treated area – any temporary scabs or blisters subside during this time. The following weeks allows the body’s lymphatic system to flush away the ink, which takes a time to occur. As a general rule, the longer the patient waits between treatments, the better fading they will yield from each treatment.
Performing Laser Tattoo Removal
Performing laser tattoo removal takes no prior skill with other lasers to learn. Most tattoo removal lasers are very simple to operate and offer useful features (such as an aiming beam) to help the practitioner with the procedure. Most NLLC training clients quickly feel comfortable and confident using the laser system.
However, there is extensive knowledge of tattoos, skin reactions, and laser physics that are necessary to provide proper treatment to patients. Treatment settings depend on an assessment of the patient’s tattoo colors, skin type, and medical history. As we treat each volunteer patient at NLLC, we will discuss with the class the proper treatment settings and why those settings were used. At NLLC, we have an emphasis on safety – and we impart that to our training clients.
At a tattoo removal appointment, there are many concepts that the practitioner should discuss with the patient. The consultation is a critical part of the tattoo removal process – this is where you establish expectations, explain the process, and discover if the patient has any contraindications for treatment.
Pricing laser tattoo removal properly is an important key to having success with laser tattoo removal. Different clinics price tattoo removal differently – some price by square inch, some use size categories, and some give a price for guaranteed removal.
Another complicating factor for pricing is that different types of practices will charge differently for treating the same tattoo, based on the type of practice. Generally, dermatologists and plastic surgeons are able to charge more than specialty tattoo removal clinics, and specialty clinics are able to charge more than tattoo shops. When structuring pricing for your practice, it is important to consider the style of your practice, the local competition, and any advantages you offer for the patient.
The prices for individual treatments vary widely. An extra small (1″ x 1″) tattoo treated at a discount clinic in a competitive area might be $50/treatment, while an extra large tattoo at a dermatologist might be $600+/treatment. However, the average tattoo removal treatment costs a more moderate amount – between $200 and $250 per treatment, and patients typically need 7 to 8 treatments to achieve complete removal. Because the typical cost to completely remove a tattoo is approximately $1500, every patient has a high potential for revenue – that’s why marketing to acquire new patients is necessary for success in this field.
The necessities to perform laser tattoo removal are relatively minimal. To physically perform the procedure, the practitioner needs a Q-switched laser, a numbing solution for patient comfort, medical supplies for sterile wound dressing, and a patient bed. Tattoo removal systems have virtually no consumables, so the only cost of performing each procedure are the medical supplies used for bandaging.
For those adding tattoo removal to an existing practice or business, tattoo removal can easily be performed in an existing treatment room. For those setting up a standalone tattoo removal clinic, there needs to be a simple waiting room, a treatment room, and an office. We’ve known successful tattoo removal practices that have less than 700 square feet of office space.
At New Look Laser College, our focus is helping you learn laser tattoo removal – and make a profit with the procedure. We’ve seen it all, and we know what works in this field. We can help you develop a plan that is lean and effective so that you can make a return on your investment faster.
Note: All of the topics mentioned on this page (clinic necessities, pricing, laser-skin interaction) will be discussed much more thoroughly during the New Look Laser College course.