Changed your mind about that tattoo?

The tattoo removal industry is gaining ground as more people get inked -- and then regret the move as they enter the job market.

By Bruce Kennedy Dec 5, 2012 3:15PM

Image: Man with computer (Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc./Blend Images/Corbis)Tattoos don't have the staying power that they used to. Just ask the Romney face tattoo guy.

As you might remember, 30-year-old Eric Hartsburg became a walking campaign ad after he had Mitt Romney's campaign logo tattooed on the right side of his face for a $5,000 fee.

The pro wrestler originally said he'd keep the tattoo no matter what.  But in a post-election interview with Politico, Hartsburg announced a change of mind -- and said he accepted an offer from a tattoo removal chain to have the logo wiped off his face for free. The year-long procedure normally costs $1,000.

Tattooing is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. with estimates of up to 21,000 tattoo parlors nationwide. According to a recent Harris Poll, one out of every five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo.

And while Hartsburg's tattoo story is unique, his desire to get a tattoo removed is not unusual. Some 14% of people with tattoos told Harris they now regret their decision. And that regret has spawned a huge tattoo removal industry.

The Motley Fool says demand for laser tattoo removal is up 32% from last year, and it points to younger people looking for work as the prime market. There's a 13.5% unemployment rate among 20-to-24-year-olds, and that rises to 22.2% for 18-to-19-year-olds, the web site notes. "Seeing as the 18-to-24-year-old demographic has one of the higher proportions of tattoos at 22%, it stands to reason that tattoo removal may become more and more attractive if you desperately need a job."

In fact, the race appears to be on to come up with a better mousetrap when it comes to tattoo removal. Cynosure (CYNO), a Massachusetts laser-treatment company, announced Wednesday that it received federal clearance for its new PicoSure laser workstation for the removal of tattoos and benign pigmented lesions.

The company says its system more efficiently erases tattoo pigments, and it plans to begin marketing the workstation to dermatologists and plastic surgeons in early 2013. "With data indicating that an estimated 20% of the 45 million Americans with at least one tattoo want to have it removed, the FDA clearance of PicoSure creates a first-mover advantage for Cynosure to treat a large and vastly underserved market," CEO Michael Davin said in a press statement.

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, meanwhile, reports its doctors performed nearly 100,000 tattoo removal procedures in 2011, up from 86,000 in 2010. Costs of tattoo removal vary, depending on the artwork's location on the body, its size, the color pigments used and other factors.

But estimates it can take from two and up to 15 sessions to remove a small, 4-inch-square tattoo at a average cost of $30 to $60 per square inch. That can quickly add up to a lot of green spent on that unwanted tattoo -- and we don't mean ink.

More from Money Now

Dec 5, 2012 4:30PM
This is why I  told my son that you never put a Tattoo anywhere that you can not cover  it up with clothing at least for your job.  No neck, lower arms & legs, fingers, face etc.  While it is not fair people are judged by their Tattoos. So far he has listened.
Dec 5, 2012 5:27PM
I had 6  street tattoos since I was 12 years old. The stupidest thing I ever did. 45 years later I had them removed, the smartest thing I ever did.   I think guys covered with tatts  look stupid and women look like crap and yes a have a daughter with a tatt and grand daughter with many....she looks like a dumbazz!  She's a beautiful looking gal but the tatts make her look like a scumbag!

Dec 5, 2012 6:22PM
I look at people with tattoos on their necks, faces and other visible areas and wonder what the hell they were thinking.  Most tattoos make the wearer look cheap, uneducated and gullible.  I won't hire a heavily tattooed person.

A Rasta would never mark him/her self.  It is a mark of bondage.

Dec 5, 2012 6:27PM
Tramp stamps and hoe tags, I hate to have to look at nasty tats on my hoes its disgusting.
Dec 6, 2012 7:16PM
Sadasses .Did you ever wonder why successful people do not have tattoos? Sports people and performers don"t count.
Dec 5, 2012 8:26PM
Damn that fascetious ink jockey, i distinctly told him i wanted a "hellcat" not "hello kitty."
Dec 6, 2012 1:35PM
I am forever mystified that a person would want to disfigure  his/her body anywhere.  Tattoos belong on primitive tribes not on those living in civilized areas.  Groucho Marx illuminated such stupidity with the song "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady".
Dec 5, 2012 8:28PM

I was a student at San Diego State and UCSD in the late 60s and am very familiar with downtown SD during the 'Nam war with sailors and marines all over the area, which was rife with parlors, strip clubs, dive bars, you name it.  As an army vet, we were tattoo free in W. Germany where I was for 30 mos.  No parlors in Frankfurt or Stuttgart.  Tats were for sailors, marines and outlaw bikers.  Rebels.  Now I see "sleeves" on 50 yr old Republican women.  Yikes!  See "The Ilustrated Man" with Rod Steiger, with all over tats that come alive, 1973.  Or "Cape Fear" with DeNiro covered with tats. I often see dermatologist ads for tattoo removal. 

Dec 5, 2012 7:59PM
I have a long burn mark on my neck, which I covered up with a dragon tattoo.No more hickey jokes, and I love my tat!
Dec 5, 2012 7:58PM

I got a tattoo last year on my tushy (butt) and love it! My wife said now that its there Im not allowed to get it removed. Having a butt tattoo also means no one except a select few will see it, and it doesn't interfere with my job :) I also have a cute butt which is a must if you're going to get a butt tattoo.


* really? The Only post not to get a single thumbs up. come on people give me some love :)

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