By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
When youthful enchantment with “rat tats,” tribal geometry and dolphin tattoos fades, it fuels a marketing gateway for hospitals, dermatologists and other removal providers.
Somewhere around one in five Americans have tattoos, but as the population grows older (and perhaps wiser), “tattoo regret” begins to set in for many people. Typically, about 10 to 15 years later.
Estimates vary, but roughly one in seven individuals look for the ways and means to “erase” their body art. (Other sources put that estimate closer to 50 percent.) Increasingly, people are investing in tattoo removal, and it’s a thriving gateway for medical specialists and hospitals.
Midlife crisis? Job hunting and career advancement? Personal growth and greater maturity? The reasons for tattoo regret are not well documented. But for as popular as tattoos are for some people, the number of regrets and removals is growing…along with the price tag.
Over 45,000 people had removal procedures in 2013, says the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), an increase of more than 4,000 procedures in 2011. Other professional organizations report even higher figures.
A Tool for Community Outreach Programs…
In Fremont, CA, a tattoo removal program of Washington Hospital Healthcare System partners with the County of Alameda, the Community Counseling and Education Center (CCEC) in Fremont and Eden Youth and Family Services in Hayward. The WHHS program, which coordinates tattoo removal with social support for teens and young adults, supports positive life changes by removing symbols associated with gang and drug activities.
Elsewhere, in a “jails-to-jobs” endeavor, hospitals exchange community service hours for anti-social tattoo removal. And in other areas, volunteer doctors provide free clinics for gang-related tattoo removal.
Removal Means and Methods Growth…
Among the various techniques for removing body art, laser devices are perhaps the tools of choice for most practitioners. Consequently, sales of aesthetic equipment has grown to about $1.25 billion annually, according to Cutera, Inc.
And on the horizon, a Halifax, Nova Scotia, PhD candidate, continues university research into a tattoo removal low-cost-and-and-natural-cream-of-the-future. More about Alex Falkenham’s investigation of the still-in-development Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal process—which targets white blood cells—is here.
Demographically, ASAPS says that women accounted for over 70 percent of the conventional tattoo removal patients. And the average cost for a tattoo removal session doubled. The nation’s tattoo removal business reportedly tops $75 million annually.
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