How Many Sessions to Get Rid of a Tattoo?

Multicolored tattoo removal with PicoSure laser

A recurring question in the tattoo removal world is, “How many sessions do I need to get rid of my tattoo?” Albeit a simple question, it comes with a much more complicated answer.


Tattoo removal is strongly influenced by placement on the body. A design located on the torso with better blood and lymph supply will typically respond to laser treatment and clear faster than those located on the wrists or ankles.

Immune Support

Having a strong immune system plays a key role in clearing a tattoo. If you have a poor diet and rarely exercise it is likely you will have a slower metabolism and weaker immune system. This will make it harder for your body to focus energy on successfully clearing a tattoo than if your body were given the important building blocks it craves. Do yourself a favor, if you are entering the world of tattoo removal take the time to assess your personal habits and tweak them as needed to help get your best results.


Believe it or not, a newer tattoo will usually take longer to remove than an older tattoo. The color saturation and crisp lines associated with a new tattoo are often more vibrant and fresh than a faded, older tattoo. This color intensity will respond slower to laser removal, requiring an increased number of sessions for removal than it’s faded friends.


Not all tattoo artists are the same with how they place a tattoo. Ink can be inserted at different depths within the skin, some of which can cause more scarring. Scarring from original tattoo placement makes treatment slower and less successful. The scar acts as a metaphorical shield, decreasing laser penetration to the deeper lying ink particles.


A quick rule of thumb for tattoo removal; black ink is easier to treat than color. This can all be dependent on the type of laser that is used, but overall black ink responds better to a wider variety of lasers than colors such as, red, orange, yellow, white and green.

Skin Type

Darker skin naturally has more melanin. The problem then arises in tattoo removal as melanin absorbs extra heat from the laser, leading to complications. Darker skin is often associated with hypopigmentation (an abnormal lightening of skin around the laser treatment site) or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (a darkening of pigmentation around the laser treatment site resulting from the skin’s response to inflammation). Even if your skin type does sway towards the fair side, be cautious when seeking tattoo removal after prolonged sun exposure or when tan.


Here at Pacific Plastic Surgery we use the PicoSure laser for tattoo removal. This laser works by using ultra short pulses of energy and targeted pressure to shatter the ink effectively with less damage to surrounding tissue. We have a specialized 532 handpiece for stubborn colors such as, red, orange and yellow pigments.

If you are looking to start the process of tattoo removal, it’s important to take these factors into consideration. As much as we all wish there was a straightforward number of treatments to clear a tattoo, there are too many differences from tattoo to tattoo to provide a definitive amount of sessions. We recommend coming in for a consultation so we can assess and discuss your options for tattoo removal and come up with a plan that works for you.


Haley Mabery, RN

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