At Extreme Ink and Piercing in Clarksville, permanent isn't forever.
"Trust me, I've removed tattoos that I've done," said Jason “Monster” Maniloff.
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He has seen it all, from the amateurish to the nightmarish. He once removed a tattoo of a woman's ex-boyfriend that was on her neck -- a tattoo she got, even though the two were together just a couple months.
"As a culture, as a people, we make some really horrible decisions,” said Maniloff.
At Extreme Ink, customers often want tattoos removed just so they can replace them with new ones. But erasing a tattoo comes at a price to both a person's body and their wallet.
Here's how it works. Lasers are used to break up a tattoo's colors into tiny particles that can be flushed out by the body. It's a painful process. Maniloff uses a chiller machine to numb the skin.
Corbett Plastic Surgery in Louisville uses local anesthesia, but even that doesn't always do the job.
For people like Jeff, a 48-year-old car salesman getting a wizard tattoo removed from his chest, there's plenty of motivation, despite the pain involved.
"Yeah, I regret the tattoo,” said Jeff.
“Our numbers have increased exponentially in the last several years,” said Dr. Lee Corbett, whos beenn removing tattoos since 1999.
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery says the number of tattoo removals performed by its members has skyrocketed nationwide, from 63,000 in 2012 to 96,000 in 2013. That’s a 52 percent jump.
"It's a lot of late 20s, early 30s people who got them when they were 18, 19 years old,”Corbett saidd. “Now they are beginning professional careers."
New Army restrictions on where soldiers can have tattoos are driving business up even more. And this is big business. Tattoo removal costs hundreds of dollars per session and can take many sessions over a number of months to complete.
Getting an apples-to-apples price comparison on tattoo removal can be difficult because different offices use different lasers, and you never know for sure how many times you'll have to go back before your tattoo is truly gone.
The newest brand of tattoo removal laser in the Louisville area is called the Pico at CaloSpaRejuvenation Centerr. Customers pay as much as $600 per session for the Pico laser, but CaloSpa claims the Pico laser breaks down the color quicker, resulting in fewersessions andd making the price difference a wash.
The best advice is to do your homework, and while tattoo removal offices can't promise anything, they should be able to give you a ballpark on your total cost.
In the meantime, if you have a regrettable tattoo, send us a picture of it firstname.lastname@example.org.
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