Tattoo Regret and the $27 Million Business Surrounding It
In 2013, Americans spent close to $27 million on 45,000 tattoo removal procedures, as informed by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Tattoo removal clinics have erased many names of former lovers but say the reasons for having a tattoo removed are as varied as the reasons people get inked in the first place.
In the Pittsburgh area,Wesley South, who opened Disappearing Ink a year ago in Penn Hills and has removed about 1,000 tattoos says, “I've seen everything (…) ex-girlfriends, misspelled words, about half of what I do is cover ups, an old design that is faded down and they don't like it anymore.”
According to a study by the Patient's Guide – a website that offers information on dermatological treatments – the main reasons for tattoo removal were employment issues (40%), followed by erasing the name of a former lover (18%). The third motive included a change in beliefs about/no longer liking tattoos.
Davantae Ramsey, 22, from Homewood, got a tattoo of the stars on his neck and initials and Homewood's ZIP code on his hand. “Big time regrettable,” he said. These tattoos could prevent him from joining the Army. “It was always something I wanted to do. I wanted to travel. I wanted to have the brotherhood,” Ramsey said of the Army. Recruiters from the Army have helped him find tattoo removal services. Ramsey figures it will cost about $2,000 to erase the tattoos, but it is worth it, he said.
Getting a tattoo can cost as little as $60 as stated by Erin Hosfield, a tattoo artist at Kyklops Tattoo. However, the cost of removing starts at $250 per treatment. At Invisible Ink tattoo removers use a laser–recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration–to erase tattoos. The laser breaks up tattoo ink into particles as tiny as a grain of sand, which the body can then absorb. It can take six to eight procedures to remove a tattoo, so the total cost can be up $2,000, Jammie Barnes, manager and laser technician at the Robinson Town Centre clinic- said.
Alexis Hancharik, from Jefferson Hills, hopes to have her divorce finalized by the end of the month, but she will have to wait a bit longer to see her husband's name scrawled between her shoulder disappear. After the second treatment at Invisible Ink, she already has seen results. “This has been a monkey on my back,” she said.
Aside from the cost of getting a tattoo removed, which is not covered by most health insurance providers, there are also risks associated with the procedure. Dr. Scot Bradley Glasberg, the president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, points out that the laser can cause burns or skin irritation and even after many procedures, tattoos might not be completely removed.
This Zalea Original piece was edited and approved by the Zalea Editorial Team.