According to a 2015 survey of 2,000 Americans, more than one in four U.S. adults (27%) has at least one tattoo, and many of these inked-up individuals eventually experience tattoo regret, either because their personality has changed since they got the tattoo, because the ink was misspelled or poorly done, or because they committed the ultimate relationship faux pas and got the name of someone they are no longer with inked on their body. In other words, tattoo regret is a real thing, but even when you get a tattoo removed, it’s never completely erased from your body. Or, is it?
In the past, people who wanted to rid themselves of their tattoos had to undergo laser tattoo removal, which is extremely painful, can cause permanent scarring, and often leaves residual traces of ink under the skin, especially when removing tattoos with deep blue-and green-colored ink. Take Angelina Jolie, for example, who had her “Billy Bob” tattoo erased from her upper arm following their 2003 divorce. Angelina has since gotten a new tattoo in that location—the coordinates of her children’s birthplaces—but if you look closely, you can still make out the “Billy Bob” and dragon tattoo that used to adorn her arm. But what other options are there for tattoo removal.
Enter Cutera’s Enlighten tattoo removal machine, “the world’s first—and only—dual wavelength and dual pulse duration laser system” for removing tattoos of all colors. According to the manufacturer, the Enlighten machine offers “industry leading power, treatment depth and speed for the most efficient and complete tattoo removal results.” With a price tag of $275,000, Enlighten hasn’t become the mainstream method of tattoo removal yet, but those who have had their tattoos removed with the innovative new machine say it’s less painful and does a better job of erasing the permanent ink.
According to one 33-year-old woman who went to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank of New York’s Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery & Laser Center to have an 11-year-old tattoo of her ex-boyfriend’s name erased from her ankle, “[The older machine] was helping, but when [Dr. Frank] got the new machine, it took only two treatments to remove it completely. It didn’t hurt as much, and the healing process didn’t take as long.” As for why the dual-wavelength Enlighten machine is so much more effective at removing tattoos, particularly those done with deep colors, Cutera’s executive vice president of marketing, Jon Pearson, explains, “One laser wavelength is not effective on all ink colors – that’s why you need more than one.”
The bottom line is, if you have a regrettable tattoo that you want removed for good, your best bet for the most effective tattoo removal may be this new Enlighten machine, which promises faster results, fewer treatment sessions, and more complete removal of all ink colors on all skin types. Either that, or you can try out Ephemeral, an “erasable” tattoo ink still in the development stages that, according to the manufacturer, can be removed, edited or touched up using a topical solution, and will break down and disappear on its own after just one year.