On the getting,… and the getting rid of, tattoos.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I want you to know, right from the start: I am tattoo-phobic, have been my whole life. I’m not, and I mean ever, going to give some total stranger with a needle the chance to “improve” upon what God gave me, and so amply. No way.

I wish further to impart this intelligence: I have never been in or (so far as I know) near any tattoo “parlor” or have suffered from even a fleeting moment of belief that I would be better off with such decoration. Tattoos and I don’t get along.

Still I am forced to admit that millions of my fellow earth travelers do not agree with me… up to and including having the most grotesque and meretricious designs and colors injected into the skin of any and every body part.

We’ve all seen such people; indeed, nearly every friend I’ve got has at least one colorful outrage. This perhaps isn’t too surprising. You see, I’m a vintage Baby Boomer and here, as elsewhere, it was Boomers (starting in about 2000) who challenged the status quo and removed tattooing oneself from the odd and outre to the mainstream. It’s something we Boomers do.


I have an acquaintance named Eric who pops up in my life every few years. Every time he shows up (as he did the other evening) he wants to show me, indeed insists on showing me, his latest tattoos. I  demur, but not even a court order with cease and desist all over it could get him to stop, refrain, and cover up. That just ain’t gonna happen.

Anyway, Eric arrives, announces his colorful new acquisitions, and strips right then and there… and he does this whether I’m alone or whether Her Majesty the Queen is present. Like I told you, nothing interferes with his presentation, as carefully organized — and eye-catching — as that by any Parisian couturier.

Eric’s body is a journey through the infrequent ups and often roller-coaster downs of a tumultuous, hard-drinking, self-abusing life. Indeed, his body reads like the plot outlines for a dozen soap operas.

The name of every girl he’s “loved” is there, including “Rosetta” his first and so far only wife. It’s telling that her name has the smallest print, the blackest color (black being the easiest color to erase, orange and yellow being the most difficult), and the worst location; (I talk like I know, but I’m only guessing that the back of the left leg is not a position of honor. I’m sure some aficionado will correct me if I’m wrong. Perhaps she left him disgruntled that he hadn’t given her a better position on the body she was deserting.)

By now, of course, Eric has shown off his tattoos so often to so many he has an established tour of his body. You can get either the short, medium, or full-fledged, see everything, learn everything version. Forced to choose, I always opt for the shortest option; he hasn’t, I think, noticed this is my usual selection. I’m thus in for a rough quarter hour, I can tell you… but I grin and bear it; it could, after all, have been longer and worse.

First, as stated, Eric has all the outmoded “love” tattoos.

Most people tattooing their bodies believe that a tattoo of their beloved’s name is a) proof of that love and b) a sure sign that love will last, the tattoo a symbol of true and enduring affection. Thus, a visit to the tattoo establishment is a “must” date for lovers of any age; indeed, not beautifying your body so could be construed as a sign the relationship will be fleeting and must certainly give grounds for serious doubts and reservations. What’s a poor boy — or girl — to do, and so the course of least resistance occurs, fortified by alcohol and hope, a very dangerous combination.

Tattoo in haste, regret at leisure.

Frequent practitioners add one tattoo after another, despite the fact that most are afflicted by the tattoos of long departed lovers who have made the lovey-dovey image a thing of profound (and embittered) irony. Those who tattoo are optimists by nature. They believe;

  1. tattoos make one more attractive, even irresistible.
  2. the feelings they possess today, they will possess tomorrow.
  3. in all powerful, love ever lasting and the contentment that comes from telling the world, gloriously if garishly about it in this way.
  4. more of the above is necessarily better.

Oh, yes, they are optimists, indeed, every single one of them.

They also believe they can improve upon the most glorious of God’s glorious creations, the human body. Thus, they tattoo themselves with human words of great meaning and designs of no meaning whatsoever. They try different colors and different locations. They select classical images and motifs and images and motifs which are new, provocative, and so they think, seductive, erotic. In short, the number of tattoos is limited only by the number of people succumbing to them. And that number is now at least 45,000,000 in the United States alone. Mercy!

But what happens when love dies, you and your best friend quarrel and your favorite cat Fluffy is superceded by another, more winning, more desirable? In short what happens when you wish to banish and erase the now embarrassing (and erroneous) effusion? Aye, there’s the rub.

Millions once happily in, now want immediately (and completely) out.

A Harris Interactive Poll puts the tattoo remorse rate at 16 percent in 2008. In 2009, members of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery performed an estimated 61,535 tattoo removal procedures. In short, a whole new industry associated with tattoos is growing, the tattoo removal business. It’s booming.

Now hear this: stubborn tattoos can take up to 15 or even more sessions to remove. And it can cost thousands of dollars, a sad fate for something that usually costs under $100 and is meant to showcase your good and loving heart.

But consider this: as arduous as today’s removal process is, it used to be worse. Prior to selective tattoo-ink targeting lasers, the options for removal included surgical excision or dermabrasion and ablative lasers. Both physically removed the entire skin where the tattoo was placed and replaced the tattoos with scars and obvious discolorations.

But surely this will never be the fate of Eric and his colorful painted body, or at least I used to think so. However, on his recent visit, he confided a distaste for one of his tattoos; it wasn’t for Rosetta, but for a dog named Chipper, who had bit him and run away. Unrequited love is the main reason for total erasure with all its pains and costs. Eric is looking at several expedients, including good honest work to raise the funds. I’m glad to hear it, but I won’t believe it until I don’t see it anymore.


About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone

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