Tattoo Removal: Seemed like a good idea at the time - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tattoo Removal: Seemed like a good idea at the time

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Regret, job searches and changing rules within the military are fueling tattoo removals.

The industry has grown at faster pace than ever before and it's estimated to be worth $83 billion within two-years.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 46-percent of millennials have removed tattoos before entering the job market.

The technology to remove tattoos has also come a long way since the 1990's.

La Mesa doctor Ellyn Levine said she has been removing more tattoos than ever before, and uses the most most effective method there is today. 

"I think the technology has advanced literally in months. Some of them are coming to an age where they are regretting that decision," she said.

In June the Marine Corps changed its tattoo regulations banning tattoos on the head and neck, single tattoos that cannot covered on the hand and limited the size and numbers.

People like 33-year-old Melanie Besseck just want to make room for something new. "When I walk around I am my own canvas and I can tell you a story just by looking at my tattoos," she said.

By using a California made machine, Dr. Levine removed the first tattoo Besseck ever got.

The lasers on the machine blast energy through the skin - shattering the ink. Each patient's own body then absorbs the pigment and treatments can be a matter of minutes.

"It's very much the energy and the speed of that pigment breakdown that is revolutionary," said Dr. Levine.

In the past, patients would have to do 12 to 20 treatments, but now just four to six treatments are needed - depending on the size and color of the tattoo.

Each treatment costs between $300 and $700. Also, blue is the toughest color to break down.

What does the treatment feel like?

"It felt like continuous rubber bands snapping," said Besseck.

The tattoo removal industry is expected to grow in the next two years.

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