Second Chance: Unwanted tattoos can be laser erased or covered up


Kimberly Corrigan never grew up religious and only went to church twice. But when she was 18, she drank a little too much – and got a tattoo of the Virgin Mary on her left forearm.

The tattoo would become an eyesore for the 35-year-old who wants to avoid the attention it attracts. She is getting married next year and has decided to have the tattoo removed after 17 years.

She hasn’t had a new tattoo since she was 20.

“Not seeing this on my arm in my wedding photos will be great,” she said.

Corrigan let out a deep sigh as a laser lit the skin of his forearm. It was the Lawrenceville resident’s first tattoo removal, and she was nervous.

Rochelle Pommer, owner of Elimination Station in Taranto, assured Corrigan that the process would feel like a rubber band continually jerking off the skin. She handed Corrigan a stress ball to squeeze during the session.

Corrigan isn’t the only one who wants to remove ink that’s supposed to last forever.

Bloomfield resident Lui Giglio, 49, removed some of his tattoos. He is in the process of having a tribal biomechanical tattoo removed that he had had since the early 2000s – he was convinced by a friend to get the tattoo because “it looked cool”.

Giglio went to Ink Eraser in Cranberry to remove the arm-length tattoo. He said the laser felt like a box of lit candles sliding against the skin – but the process is a relief for him.

“I’m glad it worked, and I can’t wait to get my new ink,” he said.

Like Giglio, 62-year-old James Charles can’t wait to get new tattoos despite removing old ones.

The Springdale resident has tattoos on every part of his body. There are only three that he concealed or attempted to remove.

A tattoo he shared with a friend later lost its meaning and he covered it with a pit bull’s head. Another tattoo of a small outline of a dog’s head was covered in flowers because Chalmers wasn’t a fan of the tattoo artist who did it. A third tattoo of a red sun was not the quality he expected. He tried to have it removed but had a bad reaction to the laser.

“The red tattoo, I regret this tattoo. It was poorly done,” Chalmers said. “I didn’t like the way he looked afterwards.”

Dennis Theys, 32, of Greensburg, regrets very few tattoos, but he had a few removed and replaced with new ink – a tattoo on his sleeve and a sunflower on his chest. Theys said he felt like bacon grease was being poured onto his skin when he underwent the laser removal process, but the results were worth it.

“Starting over is an amazing feeling, especially if it’s something you don’t like,” he said.

Withdrawal or concealment?

Tattoo artists and laser technicians usually remove or cover up wedding dates, names of ex-lovers, matching couple tattoos, hate symbols, or tattoos that have not been done right the first time.

For those looking to completely erase a tattoo, seeing a laser technician may be the best bet. Sessions can range from $75 to $350 or even more, depending on the size of the tattoo.

Cassie Farkas, owner of Ink Eraser in Wexford, sees an average of 10-20 customers a week.

The average number of sessions a person undergoes is five to 10. Farkas said different factors influence the number of sessions a person attends – placement, ink density and the age of the tattoo. The older a tattoo is, the easier it is to remove, she says.

Farkas rates the pain as a 7 on a scale of 10, also describing the sensation as a band snapping against the skin. Sessions last no more than three minutes, Farkas said.

“It’s very tolerable and quick,” she said.

At the start of the session, Farkas uses a cooling machine to prepare the skin for the laser. She will test spot the laser on the skin to see its reaction before starting. The laser only targets the ink to break down the particles, she said.

Pommer said laser tattoo removal has accelerated over the past three years. She thinks the popularity of videos on social media showing the process convinced more people to do it.

“They can see it and think ‘oh, that doesn’t look so bad,'” Pommer said.

Pommer embarked on the laser removal process after removing a tattoo she didn’t like. She wanted to be able to provide a non-judgmental environment for customers.

“My main goal is to help people who want a second chance,” she said.

Pommer said the first session hurt, but the second session was less painful. Clients are encouraged to return every six weeks for their next sessions and to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.

Exercise and water can help with fading time, she said, as can a healthy immune system.

Laser removal is not always necessary. Camouflages are another alternative if a person wants to avoid getting skin zapped.

Hilah Rebosky, owner of Wild Woman Tattoo in Derry, has been tattooing and doing cover-ups for 11 years. She got her start helping people who had faded tattoos and needed to freshen them up.

Some tattoo artists will recommend laser removal before getting a tattoo, Rebosky said.

“I don’t recommend the laser technique, but it’s a very popular process to make the artist’s job easier,” she said, adding that it wasn’t necessary because she said she could easily cover a tattoo that was not lasered. stopped.

Before doing a cover-up, Rebosky examines the size and darkness of the original tattoo and linework. She opts for a primitive method, which involves using a print of the new tattoo and layering it over the old tattoo with tracing paper.

“It’s to see how the new ink will cover up what’s already there. You have to do a lot of shading and shading effects,” she said.

She said one or two sessions are needed to get a cover-up. The first session involves drawing the lines on top of the existing tattoo.

“I always tell them their cover-up will look worse before it gets better,” Rebosky said.

No regrets

Rita Santana, co-owner of Three Fates Tattoo in East Liberty, advises reviewing an artist’s portfolio before booking and being prepared to invest in a quality tattoo.

“Go see an artist who specializes or is really important in the type of work you want to do,” Santana said.

Get your tattoo idea printed on paper, Farkas said. “Look at it for two to three months to see if you still want that tattoo.”

If looking at a photo isn’t enough, there’s a temporary option to try out a tattoo.

Pommer suggests using the Inkbox website to create a semi-permanent tattoo. People can test temporary ink for one to two weeks.

“Save your money and think about it,” Pommer said.

Don’t just walk in, Chalmers said, adding to have a consultation.

“Be thoughtful – make sure it makes sense to you,” he said.

Tanisha Thomas is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tanisha at 412-480-7306, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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