More people are getting tattoos than ever before. The practice has evolved from taboo to trending in just a few years. But the popularity hasn’t translated to generally better tattoo decisions. The tattoo removal industry is worth over USD $600 million, and market analysts predict that growth of removal clinics will even eventually outpace tattoo parlors in the next five years.
The increasing tide of people waking up to tattoo regret are realizing that there’s a steep price to pay for bad decisions. Erasing ink from skin is often more than twice as expensive as getting it under your skin. Many wonder why, but you don’t have to look deep to see why tattoo removal is pricey. Below, we delve into the hefty price tag of regret.
Tattoo removal machines aren’t cheap…
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 machines, like Pico lasers, retail for even higher (around SGD $200,000). At The Aesthetics Centre, we use PicoWay, the “Rolls Royce of Tattoo Removal” that can remove tattoos from both fair and dark skin as well as reduce the number of sessions you need.
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.
…and neither is skill and safety
If you’ve been looking into tattoo removal for some time, you’ve probably come across horror stories or terribly burnt and scarred skin. It takes skill to operate these high powered lasers. At the very least, doctors need training before using it. “Dermatologists know what to recognize, how to look for a complication, and who not to treat,” says Robert Anolik, a New York-based dermatologist.
Dermatology is a specialized field doctors undertake on top of medical school. It takes some 12 years to become a full-fledged dermatologist. In the UK, dermatology courses cost upwards of £11,000 per year or roughly SGD $19,000. 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.
Many mall spas advertise cheap tattoo removal. 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 worse, painful burns. Some spas will just accept any client for the sake of business, regardless of skin tone and tattoo color. The problem with non-selective clinics is that they probably will not tell you that the removal procedure will be more difficult for you, if at all possible. Some unscrupulous places will not even tell you that you’re an unsuitable candidate, which is as dangerous as it is unethical. If you won’t go to a spa for a medical procedure, then why go there for a procedure that will permanently affect your skin?
Sanitation is also a huge issue. Remember that you’re essentially blasting superheated light pulses into your skin to burst ink pigments apart. The area, just as when it was tattooed, is prone to infections. Licensed clinics and doctors operate in a sterile environment and take the necessary precautions to minimize your risks, as well as know how to respond and treat acute complications like crusting, blistering, and bleeding. The money you save on cheap tattoo removal deal may very well just be spent on getting infections treated by a real doctor.
You’re not only paying for safety and the high level of skill it takes to operate properly operate lasers, but you’re also paying for reliable post-removal aftercare. Some doctors dress the area with a bandage and anti-bacterial medicine to help keep the area clean. Dermatologists are the right people to deal with delayed skin complications like allergic reactions, hypopigmentation, and hyperpigmentation.
It is important to be aware that if you are looking to get laser tattoo removal in Singapore, it must be done only by a licensed doctor in a MOH (Ministry of Health) – licensed clinic.
Removal takes multiple sessions
Most tattoos typically only take a few hours to do, except massive whole arm, leg, or back pieces. In contrast, tattoo removal takes multiple sessions before completely removing tattoos, regardless of size. On average, you’re looking at anywhere from 6 to 10 sessions for effective tattoo removal, 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 multiple visits.
The lesser the pain, the higher the price
Getting a tattoo is painful, but so is removing it–sometimes even more so. But the procedure typically isn’t as painful as people make it out to be, thanks to anesthetics. 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 less pain management options.
You wouldn’t want to cover your botched tattoo with a botched removal job. Tattoo removal is more expensive than actually getting a tattoo–for good reason. Removal is often a more delicate process than getting ink inserted underneath you skin. The machines and the operational costs of a tattoo removal clinic are significantly higher and the procedure needs to be performed by doctors. If your goal is to make your skin look better, then you shouldn’t cut corners on a procedure that may leave you with permanent scarring and discoloration.
When it comes to tattoo removal, you should be doubly careful about who you go to. For the sake of your safety, only opt for licensed clinics, and make sure to ask about your doctor’s 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.