How many laser tattoo treatments will be needed to remove my tattoo?

When considering laser tattoo removal, one of the most common questions we are asked is how many treatments will be needed to get back to a clean skin? The general answer is 5-10 treatments, but the number could be more or less based upon several factors which are evaluated during your consultation visit.

Professional tattoos have a lot more ink than amateur tattoos and are more difficult to remove. Black ink is the most common ink used and is also the easiest to remove.

Other inks such as green or blue can be a real challenge without the right laser, at Unblemished Skin & Laser Clinic we use the Fotona QX-Max as it removes all ink colours.

Fotona QX MAX – Q-Switched Nd:Yag Laser

 The location of the tattoo also plays a role, with tattoos on the ankles and wrists being harder to remove than ones on the neck or head. If you have a layered tattoo (a tattoo on top of another), that increases the difficulty of removal. The new ink is placed in a layer on top of the old ink and both layers of the ink will need to be removed during treatment.

Your skin tone plays a role, with removal being easier in very light skinned versus dark skinned people. If you have scarring as a result of the placement of the ink, the scar tissue can impede your body’s ability to clear the ink that is broken up with the laser treatment.

So how does one come up with a reasonable estimate of the number of laser treatments that will be needed?


Kirby-Desai scale: A scale was developed and published in 2009. It takes 6 variables of a tattoo, has a score for each variable (see table below) and comes up with a composite score. This score estimates the number of treatments that will be needed to remove your tattoo.

eg: If you have very light skin, the tattoo is on your wrist, it is multicoloured, has a moderate amount of ink, is not layered and there is no scaring, your Kirby-Desai scale score is 13, meaning it estimates your removal will take 13 laser treatments.

There are unaccounted for variables such as the amount of energy used during each treatment, type of laser used and the length of time between treatments.

There is also the individual’s immune response to consider. Some people will clear ink faster with a treatment than another. That is why we call it an estimate.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to give an exact number of treatments that will result in complete removal of your tattoo. However, the Kirby-Desai scale gives us an objective way to make a reasonable estimate of number of treatments that will be needed for removal of your tattoo, based upon your unique tattoo characteristics.

If you want to move forward and get rid of your tattoo regret, contact Unblemished Skin & Laser Clinic today on 0487 734 738 or book online NOW.

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