With the negative stigma surrounding tattoos slowly eroding from the societal norm, more individuals are opting to ink their skin than ever before. Once reserved for the experimentally rebellious counterculture, tattoos now exist as a form of expression freely showcased and artfully crafted. In the United States, the $1.6 billion dollar industry is fueled by the 45 million (14% of the population) citizens who choose to have their body inked with text or design.
Securely en vogue within the Millennial Generation, the current tattoo boom has created an expanding market space for the business of tattoo removal. Customers with second thoughts about the placement, subject matter, or appearance of their tattoos are turning to the multi-step process of eradicating the (once seen as permanent) ink.
Why People Turn to Tattoo Removal
While receiving a once-permanent body modification may seem like an action with no recourse, there are many reasons why someone would undergo the tattoo removal process. Failed relationships, personality/lifestyle changes, poor healing, distasteful appearance, and workplace discrimination are all valid reasons why an individual would choose to have their ink removed.
According to the results of a Harris Interactive Poll, of the 17% of tattooed individuals who claim to have at least some regret after their marking, 11% are motivated enough to seriously consider the removal process.
How Does the Process Work?
Despite numerous removal pathways such as dermabrasion and excision, the most popular method is the PicoSure/PicoWay laser treatment. With this removal technique, the trained technician uses the laser to direct pulses of concentrated light through the top layers of the skin which are then absorbed exclusively by the tattoo pigment. This process will be repeated multiple times throughout different sessions, with each laser application resulting in a faded, less defined appearance of the tattoo. Depending on the size of the tattoo, these sessions can cost anywhere from $200-$500 per sitting, much more than the initial cost of the ink itself. While laser treatments are not explicitly painful, common discomfort and irritation are treated with a topical anesthetic.
Despite the unpleasantness of the sensation and the steep cost, the rise of the tattoo removal industry is brass-bound to the booming tattoo industry. With Gen X and Gen Y individuals flocking to tattoo parlors as a culture of acceptance around the art form builds, the removal industry will stay thriving.