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‘Like being burned with cooking oil’: How tattoo removal became a booming business

By Mattha Busby

25 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Getting inked under the influence, following a trend, or paying permanent homage to a whirlwind romance—these things might motivate you to endure the high-pain, high-cost process of removal.

When an 18-year-old Olivia Cerda got a vivid tableau featuring a snarling dragon and a grizzling tiger permanently etched across her entire back, there was not much thinking behind the decision. “I love traditional Japanese tattoos but I was just young and wanted my full back tatted,” she says.

Intense regret surfaced immediately. A few years later, she inquired about removing it professionally with a laser but was quoted far more than she could afford. “I figured I was stuck with it for ever,” she adds, “so I got it coloured in, thinking I would like it more if it was vibrant. I still hated it.”

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