That tattoo you got years ago might have seemed like a good idea then. Now, if you wish it would just go away, you’re not alone.
CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports one in eight people with a tattoo now regrets having it, but there’s a right and a wrong way to erase it.
Almost as soon as 20-year-old Kristen Hoster got inked, she regretted it.
“It’s a Hello Kitty cupcake with purple flames and peppermints around it. It seemed like a good idea,” she said. “I felt like I lost my innocence. People just judged me right away because they looked at my arm.”
According to a recent Harris poll, people without tattoos think people with them are more rebellious and less intelligent, healthy and spiritual. Kristin was so embarrassed she tried to remove the tattoo herself, using an inexpensive lotion she bought online. “It didn’t do anything. Not a thing.”
It’s easy to find remove-it-yourself videos on Youtube, using everything from homemade lasers and chemical acid peels to safety pins to poke out the pigment.
“We had a patient once who had used salt to try to scrub the tattoo off,” said dermatologist Amy Derick, M.D.
“People think that you can actually remove the outside skin and thus the color will leave the body. That’s a very difficult dangerous thought process,” said plastic surgeon Michael Byun, M.D.
Doctors warn DIY treatments may cause serious side effects like infection, scarring, burning, rashes and discoloration. Kristen eventually chose to go to a dermatologist for laser surgery so she can finally say goodbye to her Hello Kitty. “The reason why we use a tattoo removal laser is to remove the ink slowly so that the skin looks pretty much normal when the treatments are completed,” said Dr. Derick.
After six months and six $250 sessions, Kristen’s tattoo is 50% gone. “The flames used to be bright purple, very bright. Now you can’t even tell,” said Kristen. Her advice… “Don’t do it. You can get it removed, but it’s expensive. You shouldn’t have to do that.”
Kristen still needs seven more laser treatments. Dr. Derick says for others considering laser removal the cost per session can range from $150 to $400 depending on the size, location, color and age of the tattoo. She says the average tattoo takes two years to fully erase. A tattoo like Kristen’s could easily cost more than $3,000 to remove.