Last updated on August 6th, 2019
More people are getting tattoos than ever before, judging from the proliferation of tattoo parlors, the growing acceptance of tattooing as a fine art form, and the rise of celebrity tattoo artists. But the popularity of this once-subversive form of self-expression doesn’t automatically translate to better tattoo decisions. There are still some people who will have a change of heart about a design they once loved, those who will get a tattoo on a whim and end up regretting it in the harsh light of day, and those who will look for the cheapest option available and get what they pay for.
If you think getting a tattoo from a reputable establishment is expensive, then try getting one from an amateur. You’ll end up spending more to have it fixed, covered, or removed altogether. In fact, market analysts predict that growth and demand for tattoo removal clinics will even eventually outpace tattoo parlors in the next five years. At present, the tattoo removal industry is worth over USD $600 million.
Those who regret their tattoo enough to want it permanently erased will find that removing ink from their skin will cost them around twice what it did to get it. Many wonder why. You’re not paying for an artist’s skill, nor for a piece of art on your skin, so what exactly are you paying for? Below, we delve into the hefty price tag of tattoo regret.
Tattoo Removal Machine
There’s a reason there seem to be a dozen tattoo parlors for every tattoo removal clinic — cheaper equipment. Tattoo guns can sell for as cheap as USD $60 (SGD $81). Meanwhile, a factory model Q-switched laser machine costs a minimum of USD $58,000-$73,000 (SGD $80,000-$100,000), depending on the brand and country of manufacture. Powerful, top of the line machines, like Pico lasers, retail for even higher (around SGD $200,000). Even just two of the cheapest tattoo removal machines can cost more than some cars. Factor in monthly maintenance and replacement parts and you’ve got one of the elements that significantly drive up operation costs for clinics and consequently, your bill.
At The Aesthetics Centre, we use PicoWay, the “Rolls Royce of Tattoo Removal”. A less powerful tattoo removal machine might not work as well on dark skin tones or might require more sessions. The PicoWay works on both fair and dark skin skin tones and in less time.
Trained and Licensed Doctors
Tattoo removal involves lasers designed to penetrate your skin up to a certain depth. If this were your skin, trust us, you want an MD doing the procedure. Dermatology is a specialized field that doctors take on top of their medical degree. It takes some 12 years to become a full-fledged dermatologist. When you choose to have your tattoo removal done by a certified dermatologist instead of some “specialist” in a mall or spa, you’re paying for years’ worth of specialization and expertise.
Plus, if you research about tattoo removal, you’ll come across horror stories of terribly burnt and scarred skin. You don’t want that to be you. It takes skill to operate these high powered tattoo removal machines and even licensed doctors need appropriate technical training to do so.
Some establishments, such as a small spa, may offer cheaper rates for tattoo removal procedures handled by operators with no suitable medical background. But what they don’t advertise is that cheap actually has a cost. Botched removal jobs can leave you with an uneven complexion, permanently scarred skin, or painful burns.
A trained doctor can offer expert judgment and accountability. If you won’t go to a spa for medical treatments, then why go there for a laser procedure that will permanently affect your skin?
Sanitation is also a huge issue. Your skin is essentially being blasted with superheated light pulses to burst ink pigments apart. The area, just as when it was tattooed, is prone to infections. The money you saved on your cheap tattoo removal deal may very well just go to a real doctor who will treat your infection. Licensed clinics and doctors, on the other hand, are trained to operate in a sterile environment and to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of infections. A doctor will also know how to properly respond and treat complications, like crusting, blistering, and bleeding.
You’re not only paying for safety and the level of skills it takes to properly operate lasers, but you’re also paying for reliable post-removal aftercare if the tattooed area will need to be dressed with a bandage and treated with some anti-bacterial medicine. Dermatologists are also the right people to deal with delayed skin complications like allergic reactions, hypopigmentation, and hyperpigmentation.
It is also important to be aware that if you are looking to get laser tattoo removal in Singapore, by law, it must be done only by a licensed doctor in a MOH (Ministry of Health) – licensed clinic.
The length of time it takes to complete a tattoo depends on the size. A small one will need only a few hours, while a massive sleeve, whole leg, or back designs will require multiple sessions. In contrast, it will take multiple sessions to completely remove pigment from the skin, regardless of the size of the tattoo. On average, you’re looking at anywhere from six to 10 sessions spaced with months in between. Some tattoos can take years to fully fade away! Your bill covers the operating costs of the laser machines and the doctor’s fees for those multiple visits.
Getting a tattoo is painful, but so is removing it — sometimes even more so. But thanks to anesthetics, it doesn’t have to be. Depending on your pain tolerance, the doctor might choose to use simple ways to numb your skin like ice packs or topical creams, or injectable anesthesia and cold air machines if you’re particularly sensitive to pain. Only doctors are licensed to give anesthetic injections. Spa tattoo removals may be cheaper because you’ll have fewer options for pain management.
The last thing you want is to cut more corners. Don’t remedy a botched tattoo with a botched removal job, especially since tattoo removal is often a more delicate process. A botched procedure may leave you with permanent scarring and discoloration. The equipment and operational costs of a tattoo removal clinic are also significantly higher since the procedures are performed by doctors.
When it comes to tattoo removal, you should be doubly careful about who you go to. For the sake of your safety, opt for licensed clinics, and make sure to ask about your doctor’s credentials and experience in tattoo removal. If you have any questions that our guide hasn’t answered, feel free to reach out to us at The Aesthetics Centre.