By Carla Penman
An Auckland woman wishes she'd never tried to get her butterfly tattoo lasered off - and is not the only one to suffer at the hands of technician.
Kezia Strong, 33, got a butterfly tattooed on her forearm in 2015.
"I got it just really for a memory of a good friend. I didn't really think about the size of the tattoo. I wish I did get it in more of a discreet place."
A year later, she decided to get it removed - and got in touch with an Auckland-based laser removal operator, who sent a technician to her in Hamilton to carry out the procedure.
"He said he'd done a lot of it and had all of the right equipment.
"He did seem quite experienced."
She says she'll never forget how painful that one and only laser session with him was.
"[The laser] burned my arm, like a third-degree burn. It took a long time to heal and it left a big keloid scar on there."
She says he didn't seem to care about the disastrous end to the session.
"He didn't want to look at it. He didn't have any remorse and just said it was 'just her body type'."
"I was left with a really big scar and half a tattoo, which I still had to get removed. [I] didn't really know what to do."
Strong sought help from another clinic, which said she should never have gone through such an ordeal and that the technician had tried to take too much of the tattoo off at once.
She says she was stunned when told she would have to get a skin graft to cover the whole tattoo.
Strong is not alone - an Auckland tattoo parlour has had between 30 to 40 clients of the same operator turn up, all with botched removal jobs.
The parlour's co-owner says they had to tell two of the technician's clients - including Strong - to get skin grafts.
Herald Focus spoke to a woman at the Auckland clinic, where the operator works and said he hadn't been seen or heard from in "months".
The operator has worked on laser tattoo removals for more than a decade - including a number of years with a government department.