How Long to Wait Between Laser Tattoo Removal Sessions

When removing an unwanted tattoo, time may not be on your side. Though you may want to quickly delete an ex-lover's name or a design that you have outgrown, you need to give your body time to heal between laser treatments.

This article will review the process of laser tattoo removal, and how to choose the treatment that is best for you.

How Laser Tattoo Removal Works

When a laser removes a tattoo, a high-intensity beam breaks up the ink or the pigment colors that make up the tattoo. The type of laser used depends on the colors the laser will need to break up. There are different wavelength settings for different colors.

The laser delivers a high-energy wavelength. The beam is aimed directly at the pigment under the skin without damaging the surrounding tissue. This is done to decrease scarring. To remove tattoos, a Q-Switched laser is commonly used. Once the area is treated, the body's immune system activates in healing the area by removing the very small particles of pigment.

Complete removal, depending upon the size and color of the tattoo, usually requires more than one treatment, Treatments are usually scheduled six weeks apart.

While the treated area may appear to be fully healed within about two weeks, the full healing process takes much longer—usually around six weeks. During that time, the body’s immune system does its job of removing the ink that the laser has broken up.

The results from each tattoo removal session are not visible for about six weeks. Therefore, six weeks is usually the recommended time between sessions. Going back under the laser sooner than this can result in overtreating the area, which can damage the skin.

Removing tattoo
mkrberlin / Getty Images

Choosing a Tattoo Removal Treatment

When you hear how long it can take for tattoo removal, you may consider other treatment options, such as dermabrasion or chemical removal options. However, these alternative options can lead to scarring, infection, and other problems, and generally are not recommended.

Laser removal, also known as laser surgery or rejuvenation, is the preferred method as it is more effective than other removal measures and leads to better outcomes in a safer, more controlled way.


Tattoos are meant to be permanent. If people want a tattoo removed, it can safely be accomplished through laser tattoo removal, though it does take some time. Laser treatments are generally given every six weeks. The number of sessions needed will vary for each person, depending upon the color and size of the tattoo.

A Word From Verywell

When deciding to pursue tattoo removal, don't forget that you will also need to factor in the costs, recovery, and complications of the procedure. Seek out reputable tattoo removal centers, and do not opt for treatment that states it can remove your tattoo in one visit. Rushing the process can lead to significant complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What colors does laser tattoo removal work on?

    Laser tattoo removal should work on any ink color. However, some are more difficult to treat than others, and they may require different laser wavelengths to treat.

  • How much does laser tattoo removal cost?

    The cost of tattoo removal is different for everyone. The bigger and more difficult to remove, the more it will cost. Costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

  • How long will it take to remove your tattoo?

    The total time for complete tattoo removal can take a few months. The sessions are typically done every six weeks. Some tattoos may take at least three sessions or more to remove the ink.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bäumler W, Weiß KT. Laser assisted tattoo removal - state of the art and new developments. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2019;18(2):349-358. doi:10.1039/c8pp00416a

  2. Kirby W, Chen CL, Desai A, Desai T. Causes and recommendations for unanticipated ink retention following tattoo removal treatment. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013;6(7):27-31.

  3. de Moll EH. Tattoos: from ancient practice to modern treatment dilemma. Cutis. 2018;101(5):E14-E16.

Additional Reading
  • Bernstein, EF. Laser treatment of tattoos. Clinics in Dermatology. 2006;24(1):43-55.

  • Laser Therapy for Unwanted Tattoos. American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons.

  • Interview with Will Kirby, DO, FACOS - Los Angeles, CA - conducted on November 19, 2008

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.

Originally written by Natalie Kita