Will You Regret Your Tattoo?

I’m sure we all know someone with one or multiple tattoos, but did you know that 33% of people end up not liking their tattoos? As I was sitting there struggling on coming up with my topic, my roommate walked in, and in an instance, I knew my topic.  My roommate has a whopping 13 tattoos on various areas of her body.  All of the tattoos that she has are beautiful and she can tell you the importance of each and every one of them.  They all mean something different to her, something about her family member, bible verses and so on.   Tattoos aren’t like the temporary ones that we used to put on as kids with our friends that would be gone in just a few days. You have to live with a tattoo for the rest of your life, unless you cover it somehow or remove it, which is a very painful process. Don’t you want to enjoy the tattoo and have it be something that is very meaningful?

I am not sure if anyone has seen the show “America’s Worst Tattoo,” but it sure caught my attention.  “TLC’s America’s Worst Tattoos will showcase one of the biggest regrets in life: a meaningless tattoo.”  During each episode, there are multiple people that come into the shop that share their embarrassing background stories on why they got their tattoos.  A few have been from being intoxicated, losing a bet, having their ex give them a tattoo, and even a tattoo artist that didn’t listen to the customer and simply did his own tattoo.  The tattoo artists on the show perform a miracle.  They create a masterpiece from the mistake that the customers come in with.

Tattoo artists share that “Many bad tattoos spring from a combination of youth and inebriation.”  With a population of over 8.3 million, New York City harbors its fair share of bad tattoos.  It is hard to believe this since tattoo shops were illegal in New York City until 1997.  That was only 16 years ago.  Tattoo artist Ami James, 40, blames much of the city’s awful ink jobs on the abundance of parlors that opened right after legalization.  Anyone could open up a tattoo shop and anyone could walk in and get whatever they wanted tattooed on their body.

The research from the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust found that men are more likely to have tattoo regrets than women, especially if they get the tattoo before they reach the age 16, three times more likely to be exact. Since many of the people that were questioned regretted their tattoos, dermatologist Dr. Caroline Owen, encourages members of the public to have a “cooling off” period before they get a tattoo to seriously think about the effects getting a tattoo may have on their lives in the future.

A dermatologist that works with the East Lancaster Hospitals that says we should think before getting a tattoo.

Dr. Caroline Owen

Tattoos that are on the upper part of the body are the most likely to be regretted.  Some tattoos that are more regretted than others, those are tattoos that are visible when you are fully clothed, for example, on the head, neck, and backs of hands. A few other examples of tattoos that are likely to regret a tattoo are those that incorporate a partner’s name, and those that will mean nothing in just 10 years’ time.

Tattoo removal can be completed by surgery, laser or dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is a technique that uses a wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges to remove the upper layers of the skin. Like most procedures, there are health risks, and in this instance there are risks of infection, discoloration of the skin and scarring.

This is a video that I made, showing how tattoo removal is different for everyone and how different people need various amounts of treatments.

Celebrities also regret their tattoos. David Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Angelina Jolie and Kelly Osbourne are big fans of body art. Mel Chisholm, a former Spice girl has 11 tattoos. She has considered having some of the tattoos she had done in the 1990’s removed and would not want her daughter to have any at all.

The famous soccer player has many tattoos, even some that he may regret.

Even David Beckham has many tattoos, even some that he may regret.

According to the American Society of Dermatological surgery, over 50% of everyone receiving a tattoo wants it removed.” Tattoo removal via laser surgery is among one of the fastest growing areas of the dermatology industry. Tattoos performed by commercial tattoo parlors are much more difficult to remove because the tattoos are deeper. It usually takes between 10 and 15 laser surgery sessions to remove the average tattoo. The average single session costs from $400-$800, causing the removal to be very expensive costing as much as $20,000. A tattoo that was only $25 to get may cost $5,000 to remove. On top of the amount of money that it is going to cost, health insurance doesn’t cover tattoo removal, so it is all out of pocket. Plastic Surgeon Tolbert S. Wilkinson, of San Antonio, Texas, says “If people only realized how difficult it is to remove a tattoo, understood how costly and how painful tattoo removal is, and recognized that society as a whole still views tattoos as a stigma, maybe they would think seriously before getting one.”

It seems these days that getting a tattoo is almost a rite of passage, but as we have discovered, tattoo regret is common. The real problem with tattoos is that people don’t spend enough time thinking about them. It isn’t like a new hairstyle or color. A tattoo is a permanent feature, unless removed.  There are many people that act on impulse, simply going to get a tattoo that has no significance, they just want it.

Since we are able to see that tattoo removal is very popular among our society, there are many different places around the world and country that this surgery can be done. Here in Harrisonburg and nearby, there are a few places that someone could go and have their unwanted tattoo removed.  Here is just one example.

L'Ide is a medical spa located in Harrisonburg that has tattoo removal available.

L’Idee is a medical spa located in Harrisonburg that has tattoo removal available.

I spoke to Dr. Sharon Blondeau who works at Change of Art Laser Tattoo Removal of Alexandria, Va.  She informed me of what she charged, and the number of sessions she usually carries out.  “I charge $75 for a 2×2 area (4 inches square) and $149 for up to 4×4 (16 sq in).  She told me that small tattoos like 3 dots or smaller marks may go between $25 and $60 a session.  Most professional tattoos take on the average between 8-12 sessions to remove.  Some other tattoos break down in fewer sessions and others are more than 12 sessions.  If you have any questions she was open to take any emails or calls.  If you are looking for anyone to answer any questions or looking into tattoo removal, visit TattooHealth.org, click on Virginia, or whichever state you prefer, and the available locations for tattoo removal will appear.

Work Cited:

1. Chan, Amanda L. “Nearly One-Third Of People With Tattoos Regret Getting One: Study.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 July 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. Web

2. Roxby, Philippa. “Do You Regret Your Tattoo?” BBC News Health, 4 July 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. Web

3.Tattoo Regret.” HubPages. HubPages, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2013. Web

4.Terry, Watkins. “TATTOO: The Mark of Regret.” Dial-The-Truth Ministries, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. Web