Most people realise that it takes multiple treatments to remove a tattoo by laser treatment, but you may be wondering what factors influence the number of treatments required. We undergo a thorough consultation process prior to starting treatments so that we can assess your individual tattoo and provide you with an estimate of how many treatments your tattoo may require. We follow a scale developed by researchers known as the Kirby-Desai scale. The following six factors are taken into consideration when estimating the number of treatments:
1. Skin type
During the consultation process we determine your skin type based on the Fitzpatrick Skin Type classification system. Lighter skin tones generally require less treatments than darker skin tones because of the need to use lower laser settings on darker skin tones to minimise the risk of adverse effects (in particular hypopigmentation – a lightening of the skin).
2. Tattoo location
It’s the body’s lymphatic system that disposes of the broken up pieces of ink from laser treatments (see our Blog: We don’t remove your tattoos – you do!) therefore tattoos located in an area of the body with a large lymphatic supply will tend to fade quicker than those located in areas with a lesser lymphatic supply. So, tattoos located on the head and neck have a large lymphatic supply, followed by upper trunk, lower trunk, proximal extremities (upper arms and upper legs) and lastly distal extremities (forearms, hands, lower legs and feet) being in an area with a low lymphatic supply.
3. Colour of tattoo
Tattoos that are black (or grey, or grey wash) usually require the least amount of treatments which is a good thing as a very large majority of tattoos treated at Geelong Laser Tattoo Removal are just black. Following black comes red, and then finally blue and green. The ink’s chemical composition and the size of its pigment granules are among the reasons for an ink’s ease or difficulty to be removed.
4. Amount of ink
Tattoos that are very simple designs with fine lines tend to fade quicker than more complex designs that are heavily inked. Amateur tattoos tend to fade the quickest due to them often not being placed very deeply in the skin and with very little ink.
Scarring in a tattoo can increase the number of treatments required regardless of whether the scarring has resulted from the application of the tattoo, prior to the tattoo being applied or since application of the tattoo. The dense scar tissue can make it difficult for the lymphatic system to get in there and remove the broken up pieces of ink.
If your tattoo is a cover-up then we are obviously dealing with at least two layers of tattoo ink and that will therefore take more treatments to remove.
The estimate that we provide to our clients is just that – an estimate. It is unfortunately impossible to say with certainty how many treatments will be required. As well as the above six factors, there are several unknown factors that can also influence how many treatments a tattoo will require – including: the materials used to create the tattoo ink; how deep the ink has been placed in the skin; and how well a client’s lymphatic system functions to name a few. But generally speaking, we find the above factors to be fairly accurate in determining the number of treatments required.
At Geelong Laser Tattoo Removal we offer a free consultation and we can assess your individual tattoo to provide an estimate of treatments required. If you’re curious to know how many treatments your unwanted tattoo may require, why not contact us to book your free consultation?
 Kirby W, Desai A, Desai T, Kartono F, Geeta P. The Kirby-Desai Scale: A Proposed Scale to Assess Tattoo-removal Treatments. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2009;2(3):32-37.
 Fitzpatrick, T.B. (1988) The validity and practicality of sun reactive skin types I through VI, Arch Dermatol 124; 869-871.