Is it worth it to invest in a tattoo removal laser?

Mar 14, 2022

MeTime - Is it worth it to invest in a tattoo removal laser?

The laser tattoo removal business has been growing in the last few years, thanks largely to the rising popularity of tattoo parlors and the acceptance of tattoos in mainstream society in all age groups. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the US has at least one tattoo and 1 in 5 has multiple tattoos. This trend has fueled the phenomenon of "tattoo regret," which by some estimates occurs at a rate of around 25%. Tattoo regret includes both dissatisfaction with a specific tattoo and wanting tattoos removed due to changes in life circumstances, etc.

So, is offering laser tattoo removal worth it for your aesthetic clinic? In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into the economics of laser procedures performed to remove tattoos. The goal is to help you understand whether this might be something worthwhile for your practice. Let's find out the answer to the question - is investing in laser tattoo removal worth it?

The tattoo removal market worldwide

The tattoo removal lasers market globally was worth around $160 million in 2017 and is expected to grow to $285 million by 2026, with a healthy growth rate of 6.5%. The business is not yet saturated and the competition is not fierce.

Given that lasers are the only safe, convenient, and effective way to get rid of unsightly or unwanted ink particles, laser tattoo removal is in high demand. Clients are aware that laser treatment on a tattoo area are associated with faster recovery times, fewer side effects, and increased safety. While the treatments are frequently offered at spas, as an aesthetic medical professional you are aware that using a laser to accelerate tattoo removal is no child's play and is much more than a beauty service.

If you already have an established aesthetic practice, then adding a tattoo removal laser will not involve any further investment in office space, treatment room, or personnel. Indeed, offering aesthetic treatments for laser tattoo removal could prove to be a real game changer for your practice.

If you are starting a new business, then all these things plus marketing will be required to establish a successful clinic. Meaning, your capital investment will be considerably higher.

Equipment for a laser tattoo removal clinic

In the following paragraphs, we're going to brief review some of the technology available for laser tattoo removal, including the types of laser wavelengths used. The goal is to help you identify the best laser tattoo removal machine for your clinic.  We'll also talk about how much laser tattoo removal machines cost on average.

As you know, a laser tattoo removal device works by shattering ink particles in the target area with short pulses of high-intensity light. The broken down ink particles are then removed by the body's immune system in the weeks following the laser session.

The most important features when trying to determine the best tattoo removal equipment are wavelengths, peak power, spot size, and pulse duration.

Wavelengths in Tattoo Removal Technology

Different wavelengths target different tattoo ink colors. The wavelengths used for removing tattoos include 532 nm, 585 nm, 650 nm, 694 nm Ruby, 755 nm Alexandrite, and 1064 nm Nd:Yag laser. These laser wavelengths absorb different amounts of melanin. Every laser wavelength may not be suitable for all skin types.

At the bottom of the table are single tattoo laser machines that can erase only black ink. These are great if you want to test the waters or have a limited budget for your tattoo removal laser.

However, typically, lasers that target tattoo ink feature two wavelengths, most commonly 1064 nm and 532 nm. This is the gold standard laser combination, i.e., Q switched 532 nm and 1064 nm Nd:Yag. It's popular because it is safe for all skin types.

If you want to offer tattoo removal for multicolored tattoos, consider investing in a laser that has multiple wavelengths that can target ink pigments across the spectrum in a different skin tones for complete removal of unwanted tattoos.

A Q-switched Nd: Yag laser (1064 nm, 532 nm) can remove black, blue, orange, red, purple, and other similar colors. A Q-switched Alexandrite laser (755 nm) and Q-switched Ruby laser (694 nm) can remove light blue and green inks.

It is worth noting that ink particles (even from a reputable tattoo artist) can include lipids, heavy metals, and other compounds that can affect the success rate of the tattoo removal procedure.

Pulse Duration

The two most common types of lasers currently available on the market to remove tattoos are picosecond lasers and Q-switched lasers. Pico lasers, as you know, have a pulse duration that is 1000 times less than a nanosecond. They release less heat into the surrounding tissue, leading to less skin damage, faster recovery, and fewer side effects.

Spot Sizes

Tattoo removal lasers feature a range of spot sizes. A large spot size (10 mm) can target deep seated ink particles. Smaller spot sizes (3 mm) will only target the ink that's closer to the surface.

Cost of Laser Tattoo Removal Technology

The cost of a laser tattoo removal machine can vary greatly, anywhere from $50,000 to $85,000 for a used Quanta Discovery Pico, $95,000 for a used Candela PicoWay, and $300,000 for a brand new PicoSure machine.

Old vs New Laser Tattoo Removal Equipment

The obvious advantage of a new machine is a lower risk of breakdowns and unforeseen maintenance expenses or hidden costs. The disadvantage of course is the cost. Another option is to lease a machine from the laser manufacturer.

Picosecond or Not?

Picosecond lasers can cost two or three times as much as standard Q-switched lasers. They can make the tattoo removal process faster, but it might boil down to just one less treatment for your clients. So, that is something worth evaluating in terms of capital investment.

Pricing Laser Removal of Tattoos

When a client walks into your clinic to have a tattoo removed, they will expect to know the number of tattoo removal sessions they will need and the cost of the laser treatments. To recover the cost of your laser tattoo removal machine and start making a profit with your laser tattoo removal business, you will need to price your laser tattoo removal services competitively, i.e., to research your competitors and plan your pricing for the entire process accordingly.

Like with laser hair removal, it's customary to offer discounts for bulk treatment purchases in the laser tattoo removal business. The quote you offer should take into account the size and colors in the tattoo. How many treatments will of course depend on the complexity of the tattoo.

Some general guidelines to completely erase tattoos of various sizes are listed below.

Small tattoos (postage stamp size or smaller): $75 per session.

Medium tattoos (credit card size): $125 per session.

Large tattoos (index card size): $175 per session.

Extra large tattoos (full shoulder, half chest, or lower back): $300 per session.

XXL tattoos (full arm, full leg, full back): $500 per session.

Marketing Your Tattoo Removal Business

Besides your usual marketing channels, one additional avenue where you should market laser removal of tattoo ink is your local tattoo parlors, as they are most likely to encounter clients who not only want a new tattoo but those who wish to have a tattoo removed.

Also, it will help to have SEO content and landing pages in your marketing budget, so that people searching online know that you offer services to remove a tattoo. If you don’t have the time to do all that, then our best advice is to sign up for MeTime. Clients in your area who want to remove a tattoo will know you offer services to remove tattoos and contact you directly.

How profitable is a tattoo removal business?

A successful tattoo removal practice can add $10,000 to $20,000 to your income each month. You could recover the cost of your investment within 3 to 6 months of adding laser tattoo removal to your services. As mentioned, your biggest expense will be the price of your tattoo removal laser machine.

As you know, tattoo removal procedures are cash pay without any insurance reimbursement hassle. Every single patient will return for follow up treatments to completely remove an unwanted tattoo. Also, each session will involve a minimal time investment on your part (it is usually a ten minute treatment). If you are planning to have your medical assistants perform the treatments, you may have to invest in a laser tattoo removal training course for them so that they can become confident in providing tattoo removal treatments.

If you are planning to start a dedicated tattoo removal business, you only need two staff members - an office manager to manage internal processes and a laser technician to assist you.

Wrapping Up

Lasers are the safest and most effective method of removing tattoos that are no longer wanted and can accomplish this without causing skin damage. To start a successful tattoo removal business, it only takes a relatively small scale investment for existing medical practices, with the laser technology and tattoo removal machine being the biggest capital investment. The tattoo removal industry is growing and there is a decent amount of money to be made in this business.

The only thing you should do before going ahead is research how much of a common practice tattoos are in your community. If you see many tattoo artists offering their services, it indicates a healthy demand. This will give you a good idea about how many people might potentially seek laser tattoo removal treatment in your area, and ultimately help you answer the question - is investing in laser tattoo removal worth it?

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