About five years ago, tattoo removal was a term rarely heard by the general public. Even less people even knew someone who had undergone a tattoo removal experience. Nowadays, pretty much everyone has, as the process becomes more streamlined and more common.
The revenue for the tattoo market sits around $75.5 million currently, which is a 440 percent increase in the past few years. Despite its currently popularity, it isn't showing any sign of slowing down – by 2018, industry revenue for tattoos is expected to be around $83.2 million, which is almost equivalent to the overall tattoo industry. While several people are looking to remove an image they got in college or an ex's name, others are turning to go under the tattoo gun and have innovative 3-D tattoos and complex designs drawn on them. Yet overall, the industry is correlative, and very lucrative – the more people get tattoos, the more people will be interested in getting a tattoo removed. Some may choose to head back to the tattoo parlor, and others decide to keep tattoos in the past.
"It cost beauty editor Carly Cardellino a monthly $3,000 for a full year to have a small tattoo removed."
Regardless of what they choose to do, it doesn't take very long to do thanks to laser technology's continual improvement. For instance, in 2009, it cost Cosmopolitan beauty editor Carly Cardellino $3,000 every four weeks for a full year to have a small tattoo on her foot removed. Even with her patience and financial willingness, the ink still remained on her foot, looking comparable to an ugly bruise. Then in 2012, Cardellino learned about a new type of laser removal that offered faster, better results. It was known as the picosecond laser because it fires a laser at a trillionth of a second. Cardellino went to a Manhattan tattoo removal parlor and had the ink successfully removed in seven treatments for $400 each, which is much less than her original attempt. Now, the costs may be even cheaper thanks to a group of engineers working to create a femtosecond laser, which fires the laser at a quadrillionth of a second.
Right now, users of laser tattoo removal technology state that the old technology could be considered a pebble to today's sand in terms of breaking up the ink in the skin. If scientists are able to successfully develop the femtosecond laser, it would be considered silt, meaning it may take even fewer treatments to successfully remove a tattoo.
This might sound promising for people like Cardellino who have been told their tattoo may not ever totally fade. For instance, people who chose to have pink lip liner tattooed on currently don't have the option to remove it, as tattoo removal lasers turn the ink black. Yet many other colors that used to be hard to remove now are easy to take off, such as red, blue and green ink. If the technology continues to progress, those harder to remove hues such as pink might be able to come off after all.
A surprising reduction
Yet, with this technology progression, the overall costs for tattoo removal industry have gone down, along with the total procedure counts. In 2012, 58,429 tattoo removal procedures occurred. In 2014, that number dropped to 33,363, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. While the overall process is becoming more popular for people with tattoos, the number of procedures each person needs is dropping, which might be convenient for clients but not so great for people behind the tattoo services. Yet, there might be potential positive to this change – as these procedures become more convenient and less costly, more people might begin to get them, allowing for an industry boon.
Naturally, some people are still hesitant to have their tattoos removed because of a lack of full insurance coverage and the high costs of removal. While Cardellino's tattoo only cost $2,800 to successfully remove, it was a small foot tattoo. Others who are looking to have a large leg, back or chest tattoo removed may have more inhibitions, because of the time and cost that's still involved in the process. Hopefully, as the procedures become more popular, these costs will continue to go down and people will be more willing to test out laser removal.