TATTOO NEWS - Tattoo Removal Up in Down Economy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - April Hunter always covers her arms when she's at work. "Always, yes, always," she says. Ten years ago she got a tattoo on her shoulder but now, older and she feels a little wiser, Hunter says not having a visible tattoo would portray a better image. She says, "It's just more professional."

Hunter works in the banking industry and feels removing her tattoo might make her more promotable in her bosses eyes. "Yea, in a way, yes. It just looks nicer," she says.

She's getting the ink removed by Frank Thigpen, the certified laser specialist at Tattoo Bill's in southwest Charlotte. He says, "Tattoos still have kinda a stereotype." Thigpen does about 25 treatments per week; up tremendously since the economy tanked. He says, "It's probably up 200% in the past couple of years."

Thigpen charges about $129 per laser treatment. It usually takes 4-8 treatments to remove a tattoo, making it much more costly to get rid of than the tattoo itself.

But in this job market, Thigpen says job seekers, and even those already employed like Hunter, want every possible professional advantage. Thigpen says, "(Even) fast food companies are coming out with policies where nothing is allowed on the neck, hands."

The laser is only on your skin for about 30 seconds. It makes a noise that sounds like static as it breaks up the ink. As for how it feels? Some describe it like a rubber band snapping repeatedly on your skin, others say it feels like sparks. Thigpen says, "Definitely a little more painful than getting a tattoo."

Pain that for Hunter, and other job seekers, is well worth it. "I will never put anything on my arms again. Never!"

Thigpen says most job seekers want tattoos removed from their hands, face or neck. He says thanks to advances in the laser technology, less than 1% of tattoo removals leave a scar.

Revlite and Picosure

The systems we tested include, the Medlite C3, Medlite IV, Cynosure Affinity and the Palomar Yag 5.