According to laser manufacturer Candela, more than 100,000 Americans will have a tattoo removed this year. This is the story of one of those procedures.
I'm breaking up with one of my tattoos tomorrow. Although it no longer means to me what it did over 10 years ago when I got it, I'm still feeling a bit of, oh, I don't know, guilt maybe? No, that's not exactly right, although a very nice man spent over an hour on it and I feel bad erasing his hard work. I'm not embarrassed by it, not exactly. OK, maybe a little. I'll explain why in a minute. I AM looking forward to what will replace it, but me and my tat have had some good times together and tomorrow a doctor will be blasting him away with a powerful laser. So maybe guilty is the best way to describe how I feel. It's sort of like a relationship that I thought would last a lifetime and, after some time together and some great memories, we have outgrown each other. Or more to the point, I have outgrown my partner, and I'm about to replace him with something younger, fresher, and more colorful. A trophy tattoo, if you will. Well, at least we never had children......
So what is this egregious symbol of my youthful folly that I'm having whacked? It's a tribal armband. Wait, wait, don't judge, there's a back-story. Not a very good one, I admit, but at least let me explain. It was the 90's. Surely I get some kind of special dispensation for getting the most clichéd tattoo of that decade. OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also have some kanji - the other most clichéd tattoo. So maybe you CAN judge. But I actually like the kanji, even though I did forget what a couple of them meant (there's a great story about how I got a cute guy to ask a Chinese coworker to read them for me. Buy me a drink sometime and I'll tell you). So my story begins where so many regretful 90's era stories begin, with the boy bands.....
N Sync, 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys, you know the names if you were of music listening, video watching age back then.
For every Justin Timberlake that escaped that decade, there are dozens of Nick Lachey's that never did. I personally was not a huge fan, but I did notice, at some point, that a lot of the cute guys at my gym were sporting these very sexy tattoos across their biceps and I can only guess that they were inspired by these hot, muscular performers splashed all across the media. I admit, I DID think Nick and his brother were very cute, and it sparked an interest in getting my first tattoo. Surely, if I thought that they were sexy, other people would see mine and think that I was sexy too. So this whole thing maybe started on a bad note from the beginning, but I have a feeling, supported by watching a lot of Miami and LA Ink episodes, that for every meaningful, well thought out tattoo, there have to be a dozen ill conceived, spur of the moment designs that the owner will at some point look down and think "What the hell was I thinking".
So my tattoo was once in fashion, and now feels a little dated. I don't try to cover it up or anything, but I no longer find it all that sexy anymore. And more to the point, I want to get something that means more to me, and that is more representative of my likes and interests. A vampire girl pin up. There you go judging again.....I thought about doing a cover-up on it, incorporating it into a larger design, but tribal band cover-ups are tricky at best, and it just seems more aesthetically pleasing to start with a blank canvas. So tomorrow, I have an appointment at the Ritacca Laser Center
in Vernon Hills for my first laser session, and after 2 or 3 of those, I will be seeing Nick Colella
for my Vampirella design. Mia asked me to describe the process of laser tattoo removal, so I'll be sharing the experience with all of you, in the hopes that my pain enlightens, informs, and maybe makes you think twice before getting something trendy. Learn from my mistakes. Today's hot topic might be tomorrow's tribal arm band.