How many sessions and how much to remove small hand tattoo? (Photo)

I got a small black tattoo about the size of a dime two weeks ago. Not happy with the quality (some lines are thick and some thin) and the heart is not shaped right. I loved the idea of it but hate the outcome and want it off asap. About how much will this cost? Sessions? How long do I need to wait before starting treatments? Which laser treatment is recommended?

Doctor Answers 8

Tattoo removal

Thank you for sharing your picture. Most tattoos take between 5-8 treatments , more or less , depending on the laser that is used . Each practice have their own prices , you would have to consult with a certified professional. If the tattoo was done not too long ago , make sure the skin is healed , wait 4-8 weeks post tattooing before doing the removal.

Montreal Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Tattoo removal

most tattoos take between 6-15 sessions for removal. I would expect the cost to be less than $200 per treatment.

Kristin J. Tarbet MD, FACS
Bellevue Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Tattoo removal timing

Your skin/tattoo will need to heal prior to treatment. That is usually 6-8 weeks, depending on your healing and your body's ability to heal. The treatments would be spaced out about every 10 weeks. It can be done sooner (6-8 weeks) but the longer in between your treatments, the more fading you will see. Black ink is the absolute easiest ink to remove, followed by red and least is yellow. You want to make sure your provider has good before and after photographs and is comfortable with the technology. You will asked to use aquaphor or vaseline for about the first week after each of your treatments as a daily dressing. Cost can vary. Some practices use measurements (per square inch), some use sheet of paper. It depends on the provider and the area you live for cost. I think usually larger cities tend to be pricier but I am sure anyone would be willing to work with you on pricing. 

Manu B. Aggarwal, MD
Lima Phlebologist

Tattoo Removal

Pico lasers are the most advanced technology. I utilize the PiQo4 laser which has 4 Pico wavelengths. The average number of sessions we see with these advanced technologies is 4-6, but the amount of treatments can vary based on several factors such as the location of your tattoo, your skin tone, how sharp the ink is and how quickly your body eliminates the ink. I believe that tattoos are removed faster and safer with Pico lasers and there is less risk of scarring. I think it is important not only to seek the best technology but an experienced laser tattoo removal provider. You should wait until your tattoo is completely healed before starting treatments. Best wishes. 

Daniel J. Ritacca, MD
Chicago Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Tattoo Removal

Your tattoo can be removed successfully, however you will need to wait at least 3-4 months from the time your got the tattoo before treatments can begin. The best, quickest and most efficient treatment is with a Picosure laser. Pico lasers work well on black ink, will not scar, and clear the ink quicker, usually 4-8 sessions.  Prices very on location. Consult with a doctor with a Picosure laser.

James Shire, MD
Chattanooga Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tattoo Regrets--Laser Tattoo Removal

This would need to be completely healed before you begin removing it (usually 6-8 weeks).  Laser tattoo removal takes a series of treatments, so it's difficult to give you a timeframe. Cost will vary. I recommend getting a formal consultation with a tattoo removal expert. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 196 reviews

​Use the Best Technology Available

Thanks for your question.  Tattoo regret is very common.  We have our patients wait 6-8 weeks after getting their tattoo to allow the skin to completely heal.  You have 2 routes for laser tattoo removal.

Q-Switch or nanosecond lasers came out about 20 years ago.  Picosecond laser came out about 3 years ago.  The majority of former Q-Switch patients we see have significant hypopigmentation (ghosting) around and under their tattoo.  The Q-Switch lasers have trouble differentiating between the melanin in your skin and ink.  The technology uses heat to burn the pigment out of your skin.  In addition, we have seen patients with raised scars as if they have been branded.  Both of these condition are irreversible. 

Picosecond lasers (like the PicoWay & PicoSure) fire 1000 times faster, using a pressure wave rather than heat to shear the ink molecules apart.  After using the PicoSure for almost 2 years, we have only seen pinpoint hypopigmentation in a very small number of patients usually of darker skin tones.  We cannot say it is impossible to get burned with a Picosecond laser, but it is highly unlikely.  We tell every PicoSure tattoo patient to expect at least 6 treatments, but don’t be surprised if it takes 10 to 12.  Patience is the key for our patients.  We typically see our tattoo removal patients every 6 to 8 weeks initially.  If they have more time than money, we encourage them to come every 6 months as the tattoos seem to continue to fade while they wait.

We recommend waiting 6 weeks until your tattoo is healed and then finding an experienced physician in your area.  Treatment prices vary by market.  The cost for picosecond treatments will be higher, but you should need less than half the treatments compared to a nanosecond laser.

Laura Riehm, MD
Fort Worth Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Time to remove tattoo

It is impossible to know in the very beginning how long it will take to remove a tattoo.  It is dependent on many things, including the age, depth and density of the ink, location on the body, the type of laser used, and other factors.  As a general guideline, tattoos on the hands and feet (farthest from the heart) take longer to remove than tattoos on the trunk.  Dark ink tend to respond faster and better than most colors (with most lasers.) For a tattoo like yours, the Enlighten laser will probably work the fastest.  It uses the wavelength of laser energy that works best on dark ink, and has picosecond pulse duration, which is the latest technology that often provides faster results, in fewer treatments, than the older lasers.  With the enlighten laser, I would estimate 5-10 treatments for a new tattoo.  However, your tattoo does not appear to have very dense ink and could possibly be removed in fewer treatments.  Its just impossible to know in the beginning.  You will get a better idea when you see how it responds to treatment.  I would personally not treat a new tattoo for at least 6 weeks after getting it, depending on how the surrounding skin and the tattoo look on examination.  Hope this helps! 

Jeffrey Gosin, MD, FACS
Atlantic City Vascular Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.