Bad Tattoos Are Laser Food
What is it about terrible tattoos that are so mesmerizing? Stumbling across someone like Mr. Cool Ice in real life is like driving by a car crash, there’s something sinister, yet refreshingly life-affirming about it. Part of it is admiring the singular vision and commitment to something so clearly insane, the other is probably just thinking, “Thank goodness that isn’t me.” But there’s a fine line between terrible/awesome tattoos and just plain bad. In fact there’s been a rash of terrible tattoo decisions in recent history, from this genius getting her butthole inked with her boyfriend’s name to Chris Brown thinly veiled Rihanna portrait.
It got us wondering about tattoo removal so we called up Mike McLaine of Precision Laser Tattoo Removal who is one of the best in Toronto when it comes to removing otherwise permanently inked regret-scars. We asked him about about the lengthy, painful process of removal, some of our favorite bad tattoos, and how he once had to remove the word “Love” from a guy’s penis.
What is the process that goes into a tattoo removal?
You start with a consultation, during which we have you fill out a health questionnaire just to make sure you’re a good candidate from a health perspective, which pretty much everybody is. It’s all done by laser, it’s incredibly effective. While we can’t say 100% removal is a guarantee, we come very close to it. On top of that, it doesn’t scar the skin leaving it basically the way it was prior to having a tattoo.
The down side is that it takes a long time, it takes multiple treatments and the treatments are roughly six weeks apart. It can take anywhere from six to 12 treatments to fully remove the tattoo and it’s not the cheapest thing in the world, either. It’s relatively expensive and it kinda hurts.
How painful are we talking here?
Some say it’s a little bit like having a rubber band snapped against your skin. Others say its nothing like that. Everyone has a different tolerance for pain. We can provide a topical lidocaine based cream and that basically numbs the skin. Probably 95% of our clients take the numbing cream. We always suggest it. Like, don’t be a cowboy. It’s not worth it.
Have you ever gone through the process?
I have not. I don’t have any tattoos. Someone suggested I should get a tattoo and then get it taken off. I just haven’t figured out if that’s bad karma or not so I haven’t done it.
Sounds like you’re scared. What compelled you to start removing tattoos?
You know, I don’t have a problem with tattoos. I really don’t. A lot of tattoos, I think, are really quite artistic and beautiful. But sometimes you look at people and you go: “Jesus, they’re going to regret that some day.”
What’s the worst tattoo you’ve seen?
One guy had a ghoul faced Santa Claus that was smoking a joint on his calf. I mean, the idea is just twisted and the actual artistry was fair at best but the actual picture was just hideous.
Some people are more excited to get their tattoos removed than others. I’ll always remember this one girl who came in for a consultation smiling ear to ear and I thought: “You’re so happy to be here.” Then, she finally showed me her tattoo on her lower back and it’s this guy’s name across it and I understood. I was like, okay, now I know why you’re so happy to be here. Clearly you need it off.
Did you hear about the girl who had the Drake tattoo on her forehead?
I did. It’s fantastic. Prime candidate for tattoo removal.
A lot of tattoo artists who say it’s the job of the artist to try and talk them out of a bad tattoo because it’s their handiwork. The guy who did the Drake tattoo was interviewed and he was scared that it would become his legacy but his justification was that, in part, that she was so intent on getting it done that if he didn’t do it someone else would have. So he saved everyone else some time and trouble.
I think you’ve found some rather ethical tattoo artists, which I’d like to think that most of them are. I’ve heard from our clients a lot of complaints about tattoo artists that did things that they should have done a better job at talking them out of. The classic example is they go in and they’re drunk and they flip through a book and they say, “Yeah, I want that.” Though I think most tattoo artists are pretty good because it is their livelihood.
If you haven’t heard of this, there’s a woman in the States who got a tattoo on her anus.
(Silence) On her anus? I haven’t seen that one.
Yeah, you should look that up.
I’m definitely going to look that up. What’s the tattoo of?
It’s the name Rockwood. Apparently it’s her boyfriend’s name. And she said that even if they broke up she could always still keep it because she rocks wood in her ass.
(Laughs) I love it. We’d treat that. Actually we have one client who had a tattoo on his penis of the word, “Love.” He was drunk, he did it and he thought his girlfriend would like it. And she did not. It’s as far as we’ve gone.
Actually I saw online some convicts have gotten into tattooing eyeballs and they tattoo the whites of their eyes. I’ve seen both blue and red, which makes them look like devils or something. That’s about as extreme as it gets. Of course you could never treat that.
There’s another one of a guy, it’s almost like an urban legend, but there is a picture of it on the internet, the story goes that the tattoo artist had a girlfriend who cheated on him and he knew she cheated on him and they hadn’t confronted the issue so he said, “Why don’t I do a nice tattoo for you on your back.” Which she agreed to do. And he proceeded to do a tattoo of a great big, steaming turd with flies flying around it.
The picture is out there, it takes up most of her back. That’s one of my favorite ones out there.
If you have a shitty tattoo that you want to get removed, it just so happens that we're running a contest with our fine friends at Precision Laser Tattoo Removal. Submit your photo and hope you get the most votes (hint: tell your friends to help) and whoever has the shittiest of the shitty gets a free removal, so long as you're in or can get to Toronto.
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