You don’t get many do-overs in life. That hair cut for your senior picture in high school? It’s gonna stay in your yearbook forever. That time you ate 5 hot dogs and then decided to get on the roller coaster? Yeah, that memory will haunt you for the rest of your life.

But there is at least one mistake in life that you get to fix: that tattoo you got when you were 16. That’s right, in the majority of cases it is possible to remove a tattoo that you would rather forget about. But how does the process work? And how long does it take? We’ll answer those questions in the info below.

How long does it take to remove a tattoo?

Trust us, this is a really common question. In fact, in 15 years of laser tattoo removal, this is probably the number #1 question we get at our consultations with Ink-B-Gone clients. 

The reality is, laser tattoo removal is a relatively new science, and a lot of folks are still in the dark about how it works. They don’t know if it’s going to take 10 minutes to get rid of their ex’s name, or 10 years!

So let’s start off by saying this: Most tattoos (emphasis on most) are 100% removable.

Granted, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, if there was heavy scarring from the initial tattoo, then we may not be able to fully remove all evidence of it from your skin. If we can tell that a tattoo isn’t going away, at least not completely, then we’ll let you know straight up during our consultation. (And if any tattoo removal company tells you differently, then we have one word for you: Run!)

But let’s say that you’re in the majority here, and we can remove your tattoo. Okay, so we’re back to our original question: How long will it take? The answer (like most things in life) depends on several factors, so let’s break down the time frame you could be looking at.

What you should know

First of all, here’s the cliff notes on how long a tattoo removal could take:

On average, complete tattoo removal requires 6-10 appointments, which could take anywhere from 10 months to 2 years (or sometimes longer). 

Now that you have the short answer, you need to know that the actual time frame is going to vary from one removal to the next. 

The appointments themselves usually don’t take very long. During a tattoo removal session, your technician will use a laser to go over the full surface area of the tattoo you want gone. The tech will only have to do this one time per session, so the longest an appointment will last is typically an hour (and that’s only for a really large tattoo, like a sleeve-length one).

There are two big factors that could shorten or lengthen the removal process: the number of sessions, and the time between sessions. Let’s talk about those for a minute.

How many appointments will you need?

The number of appointments you’ll have to make depends on some key characteristics of your tattoo. Of course, the more sessions it takes to remove the tattoo, the higher the overall cost of removal is gonna be. (Sorry, can’t help that!)

Here are 4 big factors that will play a role:

  1. Size. Obviously, the larger your tattoo is, the more sessions it will require to remove it.
  2. Age. If your tattoo is really old, then you’ll probably need fewer removal sessions than you would for a new one. The reason is that your body breaks down tattoo ink over time, so if you’ve had it for more than a few years, your body has already done some of our work for us!
  3. Location. Where your tattoo is located on your body also makes a difference in how many sessions you’ll need. Tattoos on the fattier tissue closer to your heart will come off more quickly than ones on bony areas away from your torso.
  4. Type of ink. If you got a high-end tattoo at a professional parlor, then it may take more sessions to remove the high quality ink inscribed onto your skin. Plus, the color of ink makes a difference, too: blues and greens are harder to remove than other colors.

How much time between appointments will you need?

Even if you only need 6 or fewer sessions for tattoo removal, the number #1 factor that makes the whole thing a long process is the amount of time you’ll need between sessions. This is what many people tend to overlook when they start researching how long it takes to get rid of a tattoo.

In general, we leave a minimum of 6 weeks between treatments, but some tattoos require even longer intervals to heal properly. Here are some factors that we have to take into account when making that decision:

  • The tattoo’s location on your body. As mentioned above, tattoos on fattier parts of the body – and areas closer to your heart – tend to fade away more quickly than ones on bony areas. They also heal more easily, and thus require less time between sessions. As a rule of thumb, the farther away from your heart the tattoo is, the longer it will take to fade, and the longer it will take to heal. (So that tattoo on your right ankle? Yeah, it’s gonna take a little while.)
  • The color of the tattoo. Darker tattoos tend to take longer to heal after each session, meaning that sessions need to be spaced farther apart than usual.
  • Your preference. Hey, you may want to wait awhile before coming back for your next removal session! Maybe you want to spend the summer sunbathing, or go on a vacation. It’s no problem – we will work around your schedule. After all, it’s your tattoo!

If you have questions, ask the tattoo removal experts at Ink-B-Gone

If you still have questions about how long it might take to remove your tattoo, check out our before-and-after photo gallery here. We don’t use stock photos (like some competitors we could mention); all of the images are from real customers with real stories, and they can give you an idea of how long your process may take.

Of course, the best way to know how long the removal process will take is simply to ask the professionals. Come visit our team at Ink-B-Gone for a free, no-strings-attached consultation. We’re the leading laser tattoo removers in Colorado, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

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