Tattoos No Longer Permanent

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

November 29, 2005

Whether you love them, hate them, or regret them, tattoos are usually thought of as there to stay. Nowadays, that is not necessarily true.

There are several types of removal. The best known uses a laser, that breaks-up the ink which is absorbed by the body. It takes multiple visits and tends to be expensive.

Excision is just like it sounds--the tattoo is literally cut out of your skin. It leaves a scar, but it's inexpensive and the results are immediate.

We were able to view a procedure you may not have heard of called 'Dermapricking.' It differs from Dermabrasion by poking instead of pealing.

Joe Miller got two tattoos in his early 20s. They were both unplanned and just something he did with friends. Now he wants to get rid of them, especially one he has of the Grimm Reaper.

"The public's not really happy with something like that I don't think. They just take different approaches on who you are. They don't see your heart I guess," said Miller.

He's been about eight times to erase this and a cat claw. Ironically the removal is done with the same machine that puts the ink in.

"What we do is we dye it out of the skin so that it brings it up to the surface," said James Warsing, Jr. of TJ's Dermagraphics in Harrisonburg.

The pigment is reached and dyed back to it's natural color.

"We don't but pierce, poke, or prick the skin 3000 times per minutes, so that's how we get into the [skin] and ruffle up the carbons and bring [them] up to the surface," said Warsing.

It's fairly harsh on the skin, so patients scab and then don't return for at least a month. But Miller swears it doesn't hurt.

"Maybe a bee sting or something like that. It doesn't hurt," Miller said.

'Dermapricking' doesn't always remove--one or two sessions can also lighten the color.

"It will take any color out, it just takes time to do it," said Warsing.

But artists warn--if you are already asking questions about removal, steer clear of the ink.

"If you're not sure, don't get tattooed because I've seen it happen. People are not 100 percent sure, and then they regret it," said artist Eben Goff of Big Dawg Tattoo.

All procedures run the risk of leaving a scar. Some colors and some skin types do better with one procedure, while others have stronger results with another.

The average cost for "Dermapricking" is a few hundred dollars.

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