Good bye Tattoo

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

The other day, my husband asked me what I wanted for my fifty-fifth birthday. I think my answer shocked both of us a little. I’ve had a tattoo since I was twenty-six and now, I want it gone!

It seemed to make so much sense at the time. Why wouldn’t I want a beautiful, multicolored butterfly wrapped around arm? I was very attached to “her” for many years, as the ink represented my freedom and the belief in my ability to grow and change.

Now, all I see is a reminder of a time when I was an insecure young woman who didn’t have a clue about life. I’m not that person any more so why should I wear such a personal reminder?

I’m also not thrilled with the subtle changes from ever-so-slightly sagging tissue and tiny wrinkles. Funny little age spots here and there are altering the various colors. It could be a real mess in another ten years! I’m just not wild about seeing any tattoo on an aging body because of the inevitable distortion that occurs.

I’ve met a number of other people my age who feel as I do. It’s pretty simple; I haven’t had the same hair style for the last thirty plus years. This tattoo is just not my style anymore.

Do you think I should just live out my days with a decision I made when I was young and foolish?

Done with Tattoo

Dear Reader,

In the last thirty years, tattoos have become common in mainstream America and throughout the world. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that as many as 45 million Americans have tattoos.

For the vast majority of people sporting ink, their tattoos carry significant meaning. They reported that their tattoos made them feel more:  sexy (30 %); rebellious (25%); both attractive and strong (21%); and spiritual (16% ). Fewer say tattoos make them feel more healthy (9%), intelligent (8%) or athletic (5%).

Yet, of those responding to the poll, 17%  reported regretting their tattoos. I wonder if this number will ultimately change because this poll also noted that 52% of people with tattoos fall between the ages of 18 and 29. Just as you have expressed so well, people continue to change long after their twenties.

For those who love their tattoos at every age, I say enjoy. But it sounds as though your’s has become a negative. Should you “live out your days” with a decision that you consider “young and foolish”? It sounds like your “butterfly” has served you well and now, it’s time to move on.

Your first step in this decision should really be to make an appointment with a dermatologist, specifically one who specializes in tattoo removal.  Do your research and find a reputable professional. He/she is the best one to explain to you the many different approaches to tattoo removal. Variables to be considered are: the age of your tattoo, size, location, skin type, number of removal treatments, costs, pain, and the anticipated outcome.

Finally, please educate yourself fully regarding the over-the-counter tattoo fading creams. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that consumers stay away from these product, as they result in limited success and may cause skin irritation.

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)