Got bad ink? You’re not alone. Market research company IBISWorld estimates that the tattoo removal business has grown from a $15 million industry in 2005 to almost a $75 million industry in 2015. And if you’re among those suffering from tattoo regret, you should know a few things before getting in the chair.
Understand the costs
Stacey Friedrich, licensed aesthetician and owner of Total Body Laser Center located in Brookfield and Madison, says his office gets regular calls from people shopping for laser removal services by price.
“Far too many people base their decision on price,” he says. “Tattoo removal is driven by technology, so a cheaper price probably means older technology.”
Other factors play into the cost, too, such as skin tone, tattoo colors, location on the body, and the amount of ink used to create the tattoo. Tattoo removal services can range from $200 to $500 per session, and usually require multiple sessions, so the final price tag can add up fast.
Understand the type of laser being used
Technological advancements mean today’s lasers can remove tattoos more effectively and even treat ink colors (like greens and blues) once considered too difficult to remove. These lasers emit high-energy light that breaks the ink into tiny particles, which are then absorbed by the skin and removed from the body through the lymphatic system.
But not all lasers are created equal, so be sure to ask about the types of lasers used in each facility.
“You want to make sure it’s a laser specifically used for tattoo removal,” says Renee Schibur, a certified laser technician and aesthetician at Tattoo Removal of Milwaukee, part of the Clinic of Cosmetic Surgery. Any reputable tattoo removal clinic, she adds, should have multiple lasers that offer varying wavelengths and are specifically designed for tattoo removal.
Ask to see credentials
The type of laser used is important, but its effects are only as good as the people operating it, as well as their training.
“You want someone who is certified on the equipment they are using,” says Friedrich. So don’t shy away from asking about staff credentials, especially if they aren’t displayed at the location.
Where the removal is performed can provide another clue to the type of training staff receives.
“Check to see if the removal is being done in a doctor’s office or in a medical spa, and if there is a plastic surgeon on hand,” Schibur says.
Another option? Ask your family doctor or dermatologist for a recommendation. They can help you find a trained pro who specializes in tattoo removal, and can provide you with proper treatment and care.
Due diligence pays off. Poorly trained staff or subpar technology can result in unnecessary skin damage and scarring.
“It’s even harder to correct a botched tattoo removal job,” Friedrich says, “so make sure whoever you see knows what they’re doing.”