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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tattoo removal not easy

While times may change, your tattoo won’t. While getting a girlfriend or boyfriend’s name emblazoned on your arm may seem like a great idea, the relationship may not last forever, even if the tattoo does.

Jennifer Allison, a physician’s assistant at Pima Dermatology, is in the business of fixing tattoo mistakes.

“”Some people aren’t with the person whose name is on their arm anymore,”” Allison said. “”Others were maybe into drugs or had a little more of a wild side when they were young, and now have children asking them, ‘Daddy, what’s that on your arm?'””

Getting a tattoo and later removing it is irresponsible and a waste of money, said Austin Kelly, an applied mathematics senior. “”I think they’re just trying to fix a mistake they made earlier in their life.””

Allison has worked with victims of abuse, some of whom have had “”property of”” and a person’s name tattooed on them. Many of these victims also cover up their scars with a tattoo. She has seen ex-gang members, who want to start over with their lives but have been branded by tattoos. She even treated a refugee from Ecuador, who had been brought into a gang, held down and tattooed on his face before he came to the U.S. looking for a job.

“”He couldn’t get a job in the U.S. after escaping here because he had tattoos,”” she said. “”Now this man got a job, got married, had children and is very successful.””

People may not be aware of the health risks involved with removing a tattoo, such as scarring. The different removal treatments depend on how long the tattoo has been on your skin and how big it is, according to Tattoo removal procedures include laser removal, tissue expansion, dermabrasion, surgical excision, and chemical peels and creams.

Kelly has a tattoo and said he does not regret his decision. His tattoo is something he will still be proud of 50 years down the line, he said.

“”Normally every tattoo I get is symbolic in some way,”” he said.

Tattoos are no longer viewed as permanent at Pima Dermatology, where a new Q-Switched laser can blast away ink.

Allison has used the procedure on patients ranging anywhere from in their teens to 76-year-olds wanting their skin tattoo-free. Removal can cost $150 to $1,000, and there is a consultation prior to the treatment so the costs can be analyzed according to each tattoo’s size and what results the client is looking for.

Pima Dermatology uses a numbing agent similar to those used in dental work, which must be injected into the skin.

“”The numbing is not fun, but you don’t feel the laser, which can be painful,”” she said.

A high-intensity infrared or green light pulsed quickly explodes the ink on the skin into smaller and smaller particles. The body then digests those particles by carrying them away and eliminating them. The complete removal can take anywhere from five to ten treatments, depending on how deep the tattoo penetrated the skin, its location on the body and its size.

“”It is a project that a person must be dedicated to, and it’s not cheap,”” said Allison.

According to Pima Dermatology, laser treatment sessions are scheduled at approximately six-week intervals, as it takes a while for the skin to heal after receiving laser treatment.

“”Sometimes it’s like therapy,”” Allison said. “”Sometimes there’s crying. And sometimes there’s happy moments.””

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