There are one billion tattoos globally, and 47% of millennials have ink on their bodies. As tattoos become commonplace, what is commonly known as “tattoo regret” is also growing. According to different surveys, anywhere between 8% to 27% of people regret one or more of their tattoos.
Sometimes, this is due to simple changes in preferences in someone’s relationship to self and style. At other times, tattoos carry associations with profoundly traumatic experiences, and removing them is a step in the direction of healing in a way that remains difficult with an inked reminder. Unwanted tattoos can be associated with forced labor and human and sex trafficking, or with violent pasts, as members of violent gangs, prison groups or criminal organizations often receive tattoos to identify membership or to indicate a particular crime or act.
Unfortunately, the current status quo of tattoo removal leaves much to be desired. Existing laser technologies such as Pico and Q-switch are slow and painful and lead to adverse effects that are well documented. Immediate complications include pain, blistering, crusting and pinpoint hemorrhage. Long-term complications could be pigmentary changes, either hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, and scarring and textural changes are potentially irreversible.
Furthermore, as the practice was unregulated, studios often operated in shady locations with minimal regard for customer experience or satisfaction.