almost summer. More skin will be visible, on and off the
beach. And more tattoos. Will they be an inspiration? Or a
Yellen wanted to be rid of his tattoo almost as soon as he got
it, and a week later the ink began to drip down his arm.
Eleven years later, thereís still something that looks like
a bruise or a birthmark ringing his left arm.
should really think before they get tattoos; they donít,"
Yellen, 55, of Woodland Hills, Calif., said after one of the
monthly treatments he gets at UCLA.
estimated 45 million Americans have a tattoo, and, says Dr.
David Green, a dermatologist in Bethesda, Md., "the
remorse rate with tattoos is very high. Some people sober up
the next morning, some sober up 40 years later."
the hangover is worse than the partying, itís tougher and
more expensive to be rid of a tattoo than to get one.
requirements or life changes ó the name of an ex inked on a
shoulder, say ó can make removal seem necessary, said Dr.
Ray Jalian, a laser cosmetic dermatologist at UCLA Medical
Center. And tattooed makeup ó eyeliner or lip liner most
frequently ó doesnít always work out as planned, he said.
see all the ones that have a smudge or a crooked lip line. I
do a lot of hand-holding then," Jalian said.
got his tattoo, a sort of tribal design, in Palm Desert, at a
cousinís urging. "I had apprehensions. I had second
thoughts," Yellen said. "I wasnít drunk."
is benefiting from the latest laser procedure, approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012. The picosecond
technology delivers super-short energy bursts to the skin,
substantially shorter than the industry standard nanosecond
equipment, which replaced other techniques, including abrasion
picosecond technique can cut the number of treatments in half,
according to research thatís been done with a small number
of patients, said Jalian, who said he performed two unpaid
clinical trials, one for skin cancer and one for tattoos, for
Cynosure, which makes the picosecond machine, called PicoSure.
The PicoSure machine at UCLA cost $250,000 to $300,000, Jalian
Suzanne Kilmer of Sacramento, an expert in tattoo removal,
said dermatologists had hoped the picosecond machine would be
more color-independent, meaning it wouldnít be more
difficult to remove some colors than others. So far that isnít
the case, though she expects more advances.
Elizabeth McBurney, a dermatologist in Lafayette, La., said,
"I think it is an advance, but I donít think itís a
home run. It has marched us forward. But I am not sure itís
worth the price tag." Like Green, she has yet to invest
in a picosecond machine.
canít look to insurance, which will pay "the same
amount to take it off that they did to put it on," Green
runs an average of $2,000, Jalian said, and itís difficult
to know how many treatments a person will need, adding that
the last 10% of the tattoo can be the hardest to remove. But
he tells people to expect 10 to 20 treatments, usually.
tell people itís quicker, hurts less and is cheaper to get
one than to remove one," he said.
Lask, Yellenís doctor, said all kinds of people have had it
with their body art ó executives, entertainers, parents who
drag in their tattooed children. But with earlier versions of
laser removal, he said, heíd sometimes talk people out of
removal. "That cute little rose? I knew that would look
better than the scar," he said.
to remove are jailhouse-style drawings or letters ó just one
color, not much ink and not very deep into the skin. The more
elaborate, multicolored tattoos, especially those with some
white pigments, pose challenges, Jalian said.
treatment room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Yellenís
left arm is numbed before Lask directs the red light over the
inked areas, the laser clicking as it goes. The treatments ó
done monthly, so the skin can heal ó take just a few minutes
and leave the skin slightly red and welty for a day or two,
laser shatters the ink particles into tiny bits that mostly
spread harmlessly through the immune system into the body or
sometimes emerge through the skin in a blister.
hopes one day to have his old arm back. As for his cousin?
"He loves his tattoo, and his looks perfect."