For some people, a tattoo is a real piece of art, something they can be proud of.
But what happens when their tattoo becomes something they love to hate?
Samantha Reddy, 20, decided to get her tattoos removed after she found they no longer reflected her personality.
Getting her first tattoo when she was just 18 was a decision she thought she would never regret.
Ms Reddy got inked again nearly a year later – with the dates of her family’s birthdays in roman numerals, and the words “eternal life” in memory of her late grandparents.
“Whilst the designs of the tattoos do have meaning to me, I got them for the wrong reasons and didn’t think about them enough and frankly I just don’t love them,” she told InkWire.
She went to a laser clinic in Melbourne to start a lengthy process to get her tattoos removed.
“Whilst my close friends and boyfriend said they would support me and it will be worth it if it makes me happy … a lot of my friends who have tattoos almost seemed offended that I was choosing to remove them,” Ms Reddy said.
For Mia Twentyman, 42, the decision to get a tattoo was a bit different. Desperately wanting to stay young and gain motivation to head to the gym, she got inked alongside a friend who got a similar tattoo.
As years went by, Ms Twentyman regretted having the tattoo done.
“Once I’d been through divorce I decided it was time to do what I wanted and having [the tattoo] removed was high on the list,” she said.
She plans to take her two sons along with her to the removal treatments in the hope it will deter them from getting tattoos.
Laser tattoo removal is costing both women between $150 and $200 a session. Their procedures are being performed by doctors at licensed laser clinics.
Laser therapist at Booragoon-based BeGone Tattoo removal, Neil Hewett, removes all sorts of tattoos.
“It can be a mistake where they got it, why they got it or what they got,” said Dr Hewett, pictured in the top row above.
“Or often they like tattoos [and] they just don’t like where they put it.”
Dr Hewett said most tattoos take between five and 15 treatments to remove. Treatments occur six to 12 weeks apart.
“The laser penetrates the skin and hits the ink particles … and breaks that down,” he said.
“What happens is the body naturally then wants to remove the ink … but what we do is speed up that process because the laser will hit the ink and break it down to edible sizes where the body’s immune system is then able to remove it more efficiently.”
Owner of the Kalamunda-based Celtic Circle Tattoo Company, Gary Welch, has been tattooing for 25 years, and is the national president of the Professional Tattooing Association of Australia.
“Today everybody is getting tattooed,” said Mr Welch, pictured in the lower row, above.
“I would say soon you would be in the minority if you don’t have a tattoo.”
Photos: Chloe Vellinga
You can also check out Chloe’s work in the Western Independent newspaper, available from today at news stands around Curtin University.