Frequently Asked Questions About Tattoo Removal


We have put together some of the most common questions that patients ask during the initial consultation for tattoo removal.

How much does laser tattoo removal cost?
This is the number one question that we are asked from patients. Tattoos are generally priced by size. The minimum price for tattoo removal starts at $150. This is for anything that fits inside of a business card, roughly $25 per square inch. It is generally best for us to look at your tattoo to be able to give you an exact amount on the cost. It’s best to come in to allow the doctor to look at your tattoo and assess the size and to look at the blank space within the tattoo to provide you with the exact treatment cost.

We also offer a 10% discount to patients that pre-pay for packages of tattoo removal.

Can you remove part of a tattoo?
We can absolutely remove a portion of a tattoo, or lighten a tattoo. Roughly 50% of our patients come in to have their tattoos lightened in order to get a cover up. Getting your tattoo lightened before receiving your coverup helps the tattoo artist, and allows the patient to be able to choose a tattoo design that they really want. Lightening a tattoo for a coverup generally only requires a few treatments, unless we are lightening a double tattoo or a coverup. These types of tattoos have higher ink density, so they will require more treatments, but can absolutely be treated successfully!

Does tattoo removal hurt?
Tattoo removal is painful. It is more painful than getting a tattoo. The sensation is often described as a rubber band being snapped on your skin repeatedly. It is uncomfortable, but bearable. With that being said, the removal process doesn’t need to be painful. At our office we offer a few options for patient comfort, topical numbing cream, lidocaine injections, and ice packs. You may choose to use any or all of these options depending on your preference. Patients that choose one of these options report that they felt very little sensation to no feeling at all.

Will the laser leave a scar?
It is highly unusual for the laser to scar a patient. Oftentimes the process of getting a tattoo can leave a scar. We like to assess the tattoo beforehand to look for any scarring caused from tattooing. If there is scarring in your tattoo it will make it a little harder to remove the ink from within the scar tissue.

  • Aftercare

Poor aftercare is also attributed to scarring after tattoo removal. Right after you have a Piqo4 laser tattoo removal session, we apply Tegaderm (“second skin”) to your tattoo. You must keep this “second skin” on for as long as the tattoo is irritated and or has broken skin. This will protect it from getting dirty or infected. We also place an icepack on the treatment area to soothe the skin.

  • Ice Packs

You may reapply ice packs as needed for pain and inflammation. Ice Packs the first 24 hours greatly reduce the risk of blistering after tattoo removal. The first 24 to 48 hours following your treatment we ask that you don’t go into a swimming pool, or sauna, and no vigorous exercise or sweating.

  • Sun Exposure

No sunlight on the treated area, and wear sunblock when outside. The treatment area will be irritated after the laser. It is best to keep it covered and or wear sunblock when outside. This will allow your skin to heal properly.

  • Blistering

Blistering is common after tattoo removal. If you have broken skin, scabs, or blisters please do not pick at them to prevent scarring. You should also leave the Tegaderm (second skin) on until it falls off to protect the area if your skin is broken or blistered.

How many treatments to remove my tattoo?
There are many things to take into account when removing a tattoo:
– Ink color(s).
– Is it a layered tattoo, or a coverup?
– The health of the patient’s immune system.
– Fitzpatrick skin type.
– Is the tattoo scarred?
– Where is the tattoo located on the body?
– Is it a professional or amateur tattoo?
– What type of ink was used?
For more information on these factors please click this link to our blog post about how many treatments it will take to remove a tattoo. https://smartmedsf.com/how-many-treatments-to-remove-a-tattoo/

How does the PiQo4 laser work?
The PiQo4 laser is the newest and most powerful laser for tattoo removal on the market. The laser uses photo acoustics to break up the ink in your tattoo. Imagine that the ink in your tattoo is like a rock, the laser uses sound to break up the rock into smaller pieces. Once the laser breaks the ink up, your body’s immune system comes in to clean it up and remove it. This process typically takes 6 to 8 weeks, after which you will come in for your next session.

Does the laser treat all ink colors?
The PiQo4 laser is the first 4 wavelength Picosecond laser to receive FDA clearance. With the 4 different wavelengths of light we are able to effectively treat all ink colors! The PiQo4 is able to treat more tattoo inks than any other laser on the market, and with 40% fewer treatments!
Who performs the PiQo4 laser tattoo removal treatment?
Dr. Ngo performs all PiQo4 treatments in our office. He is board certified in Family Medicine and has been practicing for over 20 years. He takes great care in making sure our patients are well informed and comfortable.

Click here to learn about other skin treatments provided by Dr. Ngo.

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