How much does tattoo removal cost in 2020?
How much tattoo removal costs is a subject of much debate. This guide breaks down the facts: it’s a complete guide to tattoo removal costs in 2020. Learn about why tattoo removal can be expensive, whether it’s getting any cheaper, and what to consider before you buy. Plus, check out our simple guide to costs today.
Like many aesthetic treatments, there’s a range when it comes to tattoo removal costs - starting at £40 per session and going up to £400 per session. Generally, cheaper options are available in out-of-town spa locations with less experienced beauticians using more dated technology, and higher costs are charged at top-end, city-centre dermatologists’ offices with more advanced technology.
Make sure you do your research, and check out reviews. Try and get an idea of how many sessions it might take to fade your ink (but remember, it’s difficult to predict a precise number). Remember to bear in mind how regularly you’ll be paying for sessions too (every week, or every 6 months?) and whether you can buy a bundle of treatments at a more cost-effective price.
Why is tattoo removal expensive?
As with most laser skincare services, the cost of tattoo removal varies - and actually, not all options are expensive. Tattoo removal is really on a large scale, from very low cost, to very high cost. Although there are some exceptions, with tattoo removal you often get what you pay for. Higher priced treatments are priced that way because they’re offering a higher quality, more reputable service. And, as with all aesthetic treatments, prices that seem too good to be true usually are.
So what exactly are you paying for? The easiest way to think about the costs behind tattoo removal is by breaking them down into three groups: technology, service, and the tattoo and tattoo removal treatment itself.
Laser technology can be expensive - this goes for laser tattoo removal, and laser technology used for other aesthetic laser skin treatments. It often takes years to develop, and requires large-scale investment from device manufacturers. NAAMA Studios, for example, has been developing brand new laser technology for the past 10 years. Before that, it took many decades to produce the first commercially viable laser (the q-switched laser).
Generally speaking, there are three types of lasers used for tattoo removal: nanosecond lasers, picosecond lasers, and more recently, NAAMA technology that is only available at NAAMA Studios.
Nanosecond lasers are best thought of as the ‘work-horse’ of the tattoo removal industry. They typically retail at a cost of $50,000-$80,000. (They are commonly referred to as a q-switch lasers).
Picosecond lasers offered great improvement to nanosecond lasers, and were considered novel when introduced between 2010-2015. They can cost up to $150,000 - in some cases more.
Our NAAMA lasers are the most advanced laser technology currently available, launching in 2020. It is not sold to other clinics and is only available at NAAMA Studios. Originating at Princeton, a decade of research and development has gone into these lasers, making them the most costly to produce on the current market.
When considering how much tattoo removal costs, it’s important to consider which laser device is being used. Some tattoo removal services can charge more to account for the cost associated with the laser device used. Older models, like the nanosecond and picosecond devices, tend to be less effective on colorful tattoo inks - and can be very painful and damaging to skin.
It’s also worth noting that there are unfortunately many knock-off lasers in the market. These devices can pose high risks to those undergoing treatment and may not be regulated or tested properly. Those using knock-off devices might make bold claims at much lower costs, so be aware of anything that looks too good to be true.
How much you pay for tattoo removal is often a reflection of the quality of service you’ll get. A reputable tattoo removal studio will ensure that therapists - also known as treatment consultants/technicians - are exceptionally well trained.
Consultants will not only hold the required industry certifications to operate laser devices but will also undergo extensive Continued Professional Development. The minimum amount of CPD you should look for is 3 days - but really, reputable clinics will be carrying out 10 days CPD). The best clinics will also look for staff with experience in service and hospitality, to make sure you’re well looked after.
Much like picking a qualified, experienced doctor for a medical checkup, we recommend undergoing laser tattoo removal with very experienced treatment consultants to ensure you’re in safe hands. Deciding to undergo treatment at a poorly run-clinic clinic with low training standards is ill advised, and has the potential to cause real damage to your skin - not to mention reduce the likelihood of actually getting your tattoo removed. Generally, paying just a little more for highly qualified treatment consultants who are knowledgeable in skincare, technology and service is an investment well made.
A simple guide to pricing
Not accounting for the tattoo itself, here is a simple way to consider pricing for a medium sized tattoo (roughly the size of a mango) with 1 or 2 colors.
Price per session
Less experienced consultants, less reputable clinic
£100 - £125
£100 - £175
N/A - only available at NAAMA Studios
Highly trained consultants, reputable, premium studio
£100 - £200
£225 - 500+
£125 - £249
How does the tattoo affect the price?
The third defining factor in tattoo removal pricing is simply your tattoo. When considering the potential cost of tattoo removal, it’s important to consider the individual characteristics of the tattoo:
Size of tattoo (the bigger the tattoo, the more time each session will take)
Location of tattoo on body (closer to active blood flow can remove more quickly)
Ink colour (some colours remove more quickly than others)
Density of ink (thick ink removes more slowly as there is more of it).
Below, we explore three example tattoos, and how their unique properties might inform the number of sessions required to remove the tattoo. We also give an estimate per-session cost based on average market pricing, depending on the device used and quality of service.
Size: 55cm (length of arm) X 20cm (width around around arm)
Color: orange, red, black
Location: full arm
Ink density: very high
Estimated number of sessions required 15+
Our membership option is ideal for larger tattoos
So, what should you consider when looking at tattoo removal costs?
There are a few different things you should consider when you’re evaluating the cost of removing or fading ink. Here’s a helpful list which should guide you when you’re making your decision:
Which laser technology is being used?
Is the laser technology more dated (nanosecond, picosecond) or more advanced (NAAMA technology)?
How qualified and experienced is the treatment consultant?
Has the consultant been trained in laser tattoo removal specifically, or just aesthetic laser treatments more generally?
How large is the tattoo? (Remember, size isn’t just about the overall perimeter of the ink, but the actual surface area of the ink eg. if you have a large triangle on your back, it makes a big difference whether it is filled in, or just the outline of a triangle).
The location of the tattoo on the body and the color of the tattoo ink can play a meaningful role in determining how long it will take for the tattoo ink to break down.
Are there hidden costs, or does the per-session price include all aftercare and follow-ups?
Is there the option to buy a bundle of sessions to reduce the overall cost?
How many treatments (actual passes over the tattoo) are included per session?
Is tattoo removal getting cheaper?
No, laser tattoo removal is not really getting any cheaper. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Laser tattoo removal is now a mainstream aesthetic treatment - it’s widely used and widely loved by dermatologists and clinics across the globe, giving people everywhere fantastic results, allowing them to evolve and fade their ink.
Unfortunately, with this popularity comes knock-off devices sold as the real deal, and laser consultants who are under-qualified and under-experienced. This means ineffective, and at times, unsafe treatments are being sold at low prices.
Often, these treatments are sold as very low cost bundles of treatments online (from as little as £40 per session). Any credible clinic and sophisticated technology will be priced higher than this, since it takes time and investment to thoroughly train consultants and to develop laser technology that works. Generally, you’re better off investing some money into your removal journey - safe and effective tattoo removal does come at a price. Your skin will thank you.
Does insurance pay for tattoo removal?
Generally insurance does not cover the cost of tattoo removal, although you should double check with your specific insurance provider.
NAAMA Studios Tattoo Removal Pricing Explained
At NAAMA, each removal session is priced at £249, which includes two treatments when time permits. This means at every appointment, we aim to pass over your ink twice. We use very low levels of energy, so we’re not damaging the skin, which allows us to treat it up to twice in a session and, where possible, with sessions every week.
Our appointments typically take 30-45 minutes.
As with many cosmetic treatments, NAAMA is more cost effective when you buy a bundle of sessions. We offer several different ways to buy, from bundles to monthly memberships. View our pricing here.
Does the NHS pay for tattoo removal?
The NHS rarely cover the cost of tattoo removal. The tattoo would have to be causing severe emotional, psychological damage for the NHS to cover the cost of the treatments. Generally, evidence would need to be presented to show the tattoo is directly impacting the person’s quality of life in order for the NHS to finance the removal of the ink.
In many areas of the UK, if the NHS do consider your case, you will be placed on a fairly long waiting list (this could be months or years). You may also not have access to the treatment of your choice, since there will likely be a set funding limit.