picosure laser in action on ankle tattoo

How Long is A Laser Tattoo Removal Session?

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If you’re reading this article, then the chances are you’re considering the removal of a tattoo and have many unanswered questions fizzing around your head. One question we are frequently asked is, “How long does a laser tattoo removal session take?”.

There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this question as there are several factors to consider. A treatment can take anywhere between one minute and one hour. Let’s explore what factors play a role in determining the length of a laser tattoo removal treatment.

Size of the tattoo

tattoo size guide for removal

As you can imagine, the larger the tattoo, the more ink there is to remove. In addition, we have to allow extra time to cleanse / cool the area and to apply a dressing at the end of the treatment.

These are the times purely for tattoo removal:

  • Extra small: 1 – 2 minutes
  • small: 2- 5 minutes
  • medium: 10 – 15 minutes
  • large: 20 – 40 minutes
  • extra large: 40 – 60 minutes

When treating large and extra large tattoos, it is often necessary to divide the tattoo into ‘manageable sizes’. Not only because of the sensation, but also because of the natural swelling as a result of the treatment. The client has to be able to ‘manage’ the area afterwards and undertake the recommended aftercare without any problems so we take this into consideration.

A half-sleeve may be divided into 2 or 3 treatments, a full sleeve divided into 4 or 5 treatments, and a full back divided into 6 to 8 treatments.

Type of tattoo

tribal tattoo on mans upper arm and shoulder

Image source: art dejavu via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 

The type of tattoo is also a deciding factor as very dark tattoos (such as tribal designs) will absorb more heat so is more likely to result in natural swelling and blistering. These may take longer to recover so a smaller area is recommended. Light tattoos, the ones with a lot of shading, tend to be easier to treat with less likelihood of severe reaction so a bigger area can often be treated.

Location of tattoo

tattoo pain tolerance body chart

Sometimes the area of the tattoo can be quite sensitive and this can mean that a clients toleration of the treatment is poor. On a smaller tattoo we can ‘stop/start’ the treatment (cooling with ice packs at each ‘stop’), but on large tattoos it may be necessary to have multiple appointments in order to treat the whole area.

Colours of the tattoo

person getting red tattoo inked

Different colours can also mean that the treatment takes longer. This may mean a change from one setting to another as certain wavelength treat specific colours. For example, a 532nm wavelength is needed to treat reds.

So as you can see, the duration of a laser tattoo removal session varies, largely depending on the size, location, colour and type of tattoo. If you would like a professional opinion on how long your laser tattoo removal session would be then don’t hesitate to get in touch using our contact form or call us on 01282 421174.

Andrea Catton

Andrea has over over 40 years experience delivering beauty and skin care treatments and has over 20 years laser experience. Regarded as the number one PicoSure laser technician in the UK, Andrea is trained and qualified to use Aculight HR IPL, Chromolite IPL, N-Lite laser, Ellipse, Episoft MD IPL, ADL Sapphire Nd:YAG, RevLite & PicoSure. Andrea is also a member of the British Institute & Association of Electrolysis, British Medical Laser Association and is fully qualified to teach IPL & laser hair removal.

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