Erasing the Ink: New method on tattoo removal surfaces

With the heat of summer finally kicking in, bare skin exposes a moveable art exhibit — colorful tattoos on display. For those who’d like to erase the ink, a new, faster option has surfaced.

Shane Loughney, 26: “I was in Northeast Afghanistan for 11 and a half months right on the border of Pakistan”

Behind every tattoo, there’s a different story.

Shane Loughney: “I noticed that everyone around me had tattoos, and in an ongoing effort to fit in, I definitely went out and got one.”

Loughney’s tattoo is of Pangaea, what many scientists believe the earth looked like before the tectonic plates shifted.

Marc Aguilera, 25: “I got it when I was 18. I left home when I was 17, so going through bad decisions, thinking I’m a rebel and all that, so I got an anarchy tattoo to represent what I believed in at the time.”

Jessica Meyer, 22: “This is my only tattoo. I got it when I was 18. It’s a Roman numeral five. Me and my four best girlfriends—who’ve been friends since we were little—we’ve  been called fab five since we were little.”

But there’s a common theme in why people want their tattoos removed.

Jessica Meyer: “I am starting law school in August and it’s one of the first things that people notice about me.  When people are like ‘what is that’, so I didn’t want to go to law school and have this hinder any of my job opportunities or chances.”

Shane Loughney: “I was actually meeting for the first time ever with the district manager of human resources for the company I work for, and when I went to shake his hand, he looked right down at the tattoo, and in the blink of an eye, I knew I needed to make a change.”

Marc Aguilera: “It’s one of the biggest regrets. It’s hard to get a job, it’s hard to get an interview, it’s hard for anyone to take me serious.”

It’s a serious commitment to get rid of tattoos, but now, a process that once took patients close to two years to complete, has been blasted down to months.

Dr. Amy Derick, Dermatologist: “So if you think of the tattoo pigment like a rock, basically the laser comes in and shakes the rock. Before it would be like pebbles, it would shake into little pebbles and the immune system would take the pebbles away.  But this new technology is more like an earthquake. It shakes it so much it turns it into sand so the particles are much more easily removed by the immune system.”

Dr. Derick was among the first in the Chicago are to offer the new technology called PicoSure. Like its predecessors, it breaks up colorful pigment by delivering a zap of energy, but with a more powerful punch.

Dr. Amy Derick: “The energy is given over a shorter period of time and so it’s just stronger. That really allows the tattoo to explode. It’s the biggest advancement in tattoo removal for certain in the last 20 years.”

It’s exactly what patients like Marc Aguilera have been waiting for. He’d like to join the military, but before he reports for duty, he has to address that tiny symbol on his hand.

Marc Aguilera: “The only thing holding me back is the tattoo.”

After one treatment, the once colorful image on Shane’s arm began to fade.

Dr. Amy Derick: “This new technology is less dependent on the color of the ink.  This area here, this turquoise blue, is a popular color and you can see after one treatment it’s significantly improved.  In the past I would’ve told the patient that they would’ve needed probably 15 treatments with that, and this is just one with the new technology.”

But this quick fix doesn’t come without a little pain.

Jessica Meyer: “It burns after, it’s a burning feeling. It’s way worse than getting the tattoo, so I’m lucky that mine’s small.”

It can take three to five sessions to remove a tattoo with the PicoSure laser, and each session costs between $200 and $500, depending on the size. To learn more about Dr. Amy Derick and PicoSure tattoo removal, check out www.derickdermatology.com

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