Time to Ink Again

Like yesterday's love of your life, not every tattoo is meant to last forever

  • Sep. 7, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Pete McKay at New Skin Laser Tattoo Removal performs the second laser treatment to remove three star tattoos from Naomi Poier’s arm. Poier wants the tattoos gone so she can feel free to wear short sleeves at work.

Like yesterday’s love of your life, not every tattoo is meant to last forever

In 2009, Mattel released Totally Stylin Tattoos Barbie, complete with 40 tattoo stamps, one of which is a heart with “Ken” written on it, in the form of the popular lower-back tattoo more commonly known as a tramp stamp.

Today, the tramp stamp is (almost) a thing of the past.

“It seems like girls are getting rib tattoos now instead,” says Gerry Kramer, owner of Tattoo Zoo on Wharf Street.

“We’ll do about one lower-back tattoo this year, where it used to be about two a week,” says Kramer.

That’s what Pete McKay is banking on. After opening New Skin Laser Tattoo Removal from a rented room at Urge Tattoos on Cook Street, the heavily tattooed, certified laser specialist is hoping he’ll encounter some of those embarrassed by their mark of supposed promiscuity on “tramp stamp Tuesdays”.

“I’m offering a 25-per-cent discount to those wanting to get their lower-back tattoo removed on Tuesdays,” he says, then laughs. “It’s funny though, I’ve seen way more men come in for the discount than women.”

But the bulk of McKay’s work is for people who want their old tattoo’s lines and shading to fade, so they can revise or replace a tattoo they no longer want.

“I’m seeing lots of people with names, wedding bands and tribal tattoos that were popular in the ’90s coming in. Now that it’s 2011, people aren’t as fond of those tattoos anymore and are looking to get them removed or faded so they can get them covered up with something more relevant to their lives today,” he says.

“I’m not here to get rid of tattoos. I’m here to help people get the best possible tattoo they can get.” McKay also offers a 25 per cent discount on removal of all ocean themed tattoos on Free the Dolphin Friday.

For those more comfortable in a spa setting, Victoria has other removal options, too.

Cosmedica Laser Centre on Fort Street, for instance, uses seven distinct lasers that can treat intricate tattoos with many colours. Dr. Mark Lupin is a dermatologist who specializes in laser medicine with additional training in neurology. Like McKay, he uses Q-switched lasers that are capable of emitting different levels of energy and light pulses to target certain tattoo pigments.

Marilia Silva-Brand, owner and registered clinical esthetician at Age Less Age Well Medi Spas, offers three different types of tattoo removal.

“Because body tattoos use an ink with vegetable pigment, and face tattoos like permanent make-up use a mineral pigment, we need a different process to remove facial tattoos. Our mechanical-chemical removal process is ideal for the removal of facial tattoos where lasers wouldn’t work,” Silva-Brand says.

With more than 25 years experience working with skin, Silva-Brand warns that because of little regulation, finding the right person and process to remove your tattoo can be daunting.

“You have to ask the right questions,” she says. “It’s all about buyer beware. I’m not saying I’m the only one doing it well, but I do take my ongoing training very seriously. It’s impossible to know all the intricacies of the skin with a week’s training.”

Tattoo removal is also a lengthy and often expensive process.

“Although not as painful as receiving a tattoo, laser removal can be uncomfortable, for sure,” says McKay. Complete removal can take up to 15 treatments. M

 

Before you go:

– Spend some time researching the establishment. “Find out what kind of machine they’re using,” McKay says. “If it’s not a Q-switched laser, don’t go.”

– Find out how much training they have on their equipment. Some practitioners purchased their equipment for hair removal or skin resurfacing and only later decide to pursue tattoo removal clients.

– “Find out if they went to school for it specifically,” McKay says. “Are they accredited on their machine?”

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