Tattoo removals on the rise

By Lizzie Parry

Angelina Jolie had the tattoo of ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton's name, removed, replacing it with an inking revealing the co-ordinates of the birthplaces of her six children. Photo / Thinkstock
Angelina Jolie had the tattoo of ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton's name, removed, replacing it with an inking revealing the co-ordinates of the birthplaces of her six children. Photo / Thinkstock

Relationship break-ups and embarking on the daunting search for a new job are two of the reasons behind a surge in tattoo removals in the U.S., experts say.

Actresses Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox and Eva Longoria are among thousands of Americans, choosing to remove their body art.

For mother-of-six, Jolie the co-ordinates of the birthplaces of her children were tattooed in place of her ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton's name.

And actress Megan Fox had her Marilyn Monroe tattoo removed from her forearm, while Eva Longoria, Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson are among the Hollywood pin ups following suit.

Revenue for tattoo removals has surged 440 per cent to an estimated $75.5 million
(NZ$87.1 million) over the last decade, Marketwatch reported.

And the trend is catching on, with experts at IBIS World predicting it will peak at $83.2million (NZ$96 million) in the next four years.

Tattoo removal used to involve painful dermabrasion, acidic skin peels or literally cutting the image out and then patching the area with skin grafts.

All these methods could leave horrendous scars. But such drastic action is no longer necessary.

Laser technology was first used for tattoo removal 20 years ago and has come a long way since then.

Tattoos are created by injecting ink about a millimetre into the dermis - the middle layer of your skin.

As it doesn't shed like the skin's surface layers, the ink won't wear away. The ink particles are too big to be broken down by the immune system so they remain there.

Read more: Are tattoos beautiful or beastly?

The lasers work by splitting the ink into smaller fragments, allowing them to be broken down by the body and naturally excreted.

Several colours of laser light are used to target different pigments.

Red light works best on blue, black and red inks; green light targets red and orange; near infrared works on dark pigments while another wavelength of infrared is absorbed by green and dark pigments.

San Francisco-based plastic surgeon Michael Kulick, told Marketwatch most people opt for tattoo removals in their 30s and 40s.

He said: "What is attractive in your 20s is not so attractive in your 30s.

"The ideal colour for removal is black because that tattoo will be at the same depth in the skin and the same wavelength for the laser to remove the ink.

"Now it's very fashionable to have pastels and yellow, which is very difficult to remove."

He said common reasons for removal include relationship break-ups and job hunting.

"Increased social acceptability of and interest in tattoos has driven demand for them, which ultimately increased the pool of potential customers who may regret their initial decision and want their tattoos removed," he added.

- DailyMail

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