We’re all for getting ink (check out our favorite tattooed celebrities here), but on the heels of Amy Schumer’s cleverly-titled memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, we started to wonder: What do you do when you’ve had enough of your body art? Whether you’re tired of seeing your ex-boyfriend's name or wish you had chosen a more flattering location, we talked to a few experts and found out how you can get rid of an unwanted tattoo for good.
Rule No.1: Never try to do this at home. The safest, most effective way to get rid of any tattoo is through a series of laser treatments. Just bear this in mind: not all lasers are created equal. One option called Picosure, Dr. John Adams at New York Dermatology Group tells us, is faster than traditional lasers. “Picosure can remove black and colored ink with equal finesse and ease,” Adams says. “Side effects of the treatment look like a bad sunburn. Typically there are small blisters that recede in a couple of days with proper care.” Plus, it's a lot less painful than you probably think. "Patients read all sorts of horror stories on the Internet. When anesthesia is done properly, tattoo removal is relatively painless," he adds.
So, how long does the process take? That depends on everything from the size of the tattoo to the person’s skin tone, but many tattoos take at least six sessions. “Treatments average 6 to 12 weeks apart. The number of treatments depends on the saturation and type of the ink that the artist used,” Adams explains. “Small black lines and shading can take as little as a single treatment. Large heavily saturated 'sleeves' and such take longer."
But no matter the type of laser involved, finding an experienced doctor is the most important step. Definitely do your research, advises Dr. Mitchell Chasin. “It pays to be an educated consumer. Tattoo removal is more complex than most practitioners let on, and I’ve seen a fair number of clients who have ended up with scarring from improper use of a laser or use of the wrong laser,” he says. “Those with darker skin tones need to be especially careful in selecting a qualified and experienced physician.”
As for how much this will set you back, the prices vary on the size of the tattoo and location of the medical practice, but a single treatment can go for anywhere between $100-$1000.