Laser Tattoo Removal: What You Should Know

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Mark "Gep" Gephart does laser tattoo removal at 717 Tattoo in Mechanicsburg and sees clients every week looking to get rid of a tattoo.

Gephart says advances in laser technology are turning out better results.

"The laser has an eye that detects pigment. When it detects that pigment, it will start firing so it doesn't really damage any skin that's not saturated with pigment," Gephart said.

Raechel Gramm got two tattoos when she was in her teens, one on her back the other on the back of her neck. She is in the process of getting them removed and has had five laser sessions at 717.

"I have been working on it for over a year now. I have to come in every six weeks or so," said Gramm. "I don't have a single scar on me from the laser removal."

If laser removal is not done right, it can leave thick raised scars that can permanently damage the skin. The state does not regulate tattoo removal. The laser equipment can even be ordered on the internet.

Here is what you should be asking before you let someone remove your tattoo.

"Look at their portfolio," said Gephart. "Try to see their before and after pictures."

Ask if the person doing the procedure has liability insurance and if they are certified on the machine.

"We got certified by the actual company Cynosure, the company that makes the laser. They certify us and train us," said Gephart. 

Be prepared to feel some pain. Gephart, who has had some of his own tattoos removed, says the laser removal process feels like getting snapped hard with a rubber band over and over.

A client, Raechel Gramm, agrees getting a tattoo removed hurts worse than getting one. 

"It is very painful, but I think it is very worth it," said Gramm.

It can take up to a year to completely remove a tattoo, depending on size and color. Some clients choose to just remove the tattoo enough to cover it with something else, while others want it completely removed.

The average cost for removal is between $800 and $1,000.