How much does tattoo removal cost?
September 25, 2008 9:48 AM   Subscribe

How expensive is it to have a small black tattoo removed from someone's shoulder?

Since is talking about tattoos this morning, I thought I'd ask: how expensive would it be to get a tattoo the size of a silver dollar that is completely black lasered off someone's shoulder?

The person in question is Caucasian with very fair skin (I understand that can matter) and little to no sun damage. The tattoo is about a decade old and one of those unfortunate designs popular in the early 90's.

Asking because she has been calling around to places in the Bay area and everyone she's spoken to has insisted she must pay to see the doc for a consultation before they even give her a ballpark range. I know tattoo removal is supposed to expensive, but I've always read that black tattoos are easier to remove. Also, one place said it would just take one laser treatment while another said that even the smallest, blackest tattoo would take "up to two dozen" treatments.

So, how much does it cost? And how many treatments will it take?

posted by stewiethegreat to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Cockeyed did a story on tattoo removal a long time ago (2002). Back then, a 15 minute session cost $150 and after 8 sessions this was the result obtained (the outline of the tattoo was originally black, you can ignore the color ink). Two dozen treatments doesn't sound unreasonable at all, for fading the tattoo as much as possible. Price tag, assuming black and white tattoo removal doesn't cost much less than treating colored tattoos: $2000 to $3000.
posted by halogen at 10:19 AM on September 25, 2008

As halogen points out- a great coverup artist, while expensive, will be cheaper and less painful than lasering that sucker off.
posted by piedmont at 10:21 AM on September 25, 2008

Seconding Halogen- my wife's tattoo removal was around that price point and number of treatments. a hundred bucks to get it, around $4K to get rid of it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:31 AM on September 25, 2008

The number of treatments and cost can depend quite a bit on the type of laser. It's probably worth a trip to a dermatologist to discuss the options. It's worth discussing the laser options with someone who isn't pushing a specific laser because they own one.
posted by 26.2 at 10:34 AM on September 25, 2008

Coverup? Like getting a new tattoo over her old one?
posted by stewiethegreat at 10:36 AM on September 25, 2008

My friend had a black tattoo on her upper arm - one of those sun designs, you know? Prices were very similar to those in halogen's comment. When it was done, it looked like a smudged, flesh-melty sun. Not good. She was extremely unhappy with the whole removal process. I believe she told me she had 10 sessions because black was harder to remove than color, particularly blue (meaning blue is easy to remove?). Not sure about that.
posted by peep at 10:48 AM on September 25, 2008

Coverup? Like getting a new tattoo over her old one?

Yeas, if you search BME's galleries there are some really good examples of great coverup woe=rk, most of them you'd never guess were coverup pieces.
posted by piedmont at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2008

erm... That should be "Yeah," ....and "work". I need more coffee.
posted by piedmont at 12:00 PM on September 25, 2008

I think that if they try to remove the tattoo too rapidly, in too few treatments, there's a risk of scarring. And that would be permanent.
posted by Class Goat at 12:16 PM on September 25, 2008

Black tattoos absorb all light, thus laser is the best option for them. There are other options, listed here.

It all sounds a crapshoot to me. Here are some interesting photos here and here.

Looks like your absolute best case scenario is ending up with a scar in the shape of your old tattoo.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2008

Coverup? Like getting a new tattoo over her old one?

Yeah, if she is ok with the thought of having a tattoo, but just doesn't like the one she has, this is certainly an option.

I had a small black tattoo on my arm, about 1.5" in diameter. I didn't like it, but I love tattoos in general. I looked into laser removal, but had the same problem with trying to get a realistic cost estimate. The fact is, they can't really know how much it will cost. And the fading continues for up to a year after the laser treatment - the laser breaks up the ink but then the body has to do its job to remove the ink particles. So it's hard to know when you'll be done and how many sessions it will take.

I ended up getting a coverup from an amazing artist. The piece went from a poorly done little black stamp to a gorgeous color flowering vine that drapes from my arm over my shoulder and onto my back. It's beautiful and I love it. I am so glad I didn't try to get the laser removal. There are some limitations to what you can do with coverups, but a good artist can really do a lot.
posted by misskaz at 2:01 PM on September 25, 2008

Have you looked into Wrecking Blam? I haven't personally used but am hearing and seeing ads all the time.
posted by doorsfan at 2:46 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

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