Tattoo Removal

An Action News Special Report
Fort Washington, Pa.: February 22, 2008

They've gone from being taboo to glamorous. But despite being hot, tattoo removal is also becoming big business.

"I think we've gone through our renaissance where it was very much in vogue to get tattoos put on," said Dr. Andrew Pollack with the Philadelphia Institute of Dermatology.

So it's no surprise, that creams that promise to fade away your tattoo have become increasingly popular on the internet.

College student Michelle Copelli who is eager to remove the butterfly on her ankle, sought out tattoo creams because she thought the cost of traditional laser treatments was too high.

"I'm in a hurry but i'm willing to wait for the process," Michelle told Action News.

Rebecca Fairorth got her tattoo as an expression of love.

"Its in a very personal area," said Rebecca.

Now divorced she's eager to remove her ex husbands name which is inked on her backside.

"It's kind of been a torn in my side for a while," Rebecca added. With the help of Dr. Pollack, both Michelle and Rebecca agreed to help Action News test a tattoo removal cream found online called Tat B Gone which costs $200 for a two month supply.

"I would be surprised if it works," said Rebecca.

Dr. Pollack conducted the test using a laser on half of each tattoo. Michelle and Rebecca applied Tat B Gone to the other half.

"Laser has the ability to penetrate to where the unwanted color of the tattoo is," said Dr. Pollack.

Tat B Gone directions say the cream is easy to apply. The directions say the fade away system is three step process which includes a Pollack says most creams that he has researched usually contain solvents and detergents as an activator that can irritate sensitive skin.

And add even using a laser to remove a tattoo may not always be 100-percent.

"Color has a lot to do with how responsive the tattoo is to the laser," said Dr. Pollack.

He adds that black, red, and green ink colors are much easier to remove with the laser than some newer colors like pink, pastels, and blues like teal. And some other factors to consider when trying too determine how long it will take the tattoo to disappear include the age of the tattoo and where it is located on your body.

"The lower extremities tend to heal a little bit more slowly," he said.

When Action News checked back in with our testers to find out how they were doing just a week into our test, Michelle said she was feeling a bit "itchy".

"Four days after using it I have a rash around the tattoo," said Michelle.

At the advice of Dr. Pollack, Michelle discontinued the use of Tat B Gone but continued on with laser treatment.

We checked back in a month later to see the progress.

Rebecca, who's tattoo was just a basic black and a lot older than Michelle's was immediately seeing visible results with the laser.

Rebecca says she hasn't seen any difference on the area being treated with the Tat B Gone. And added that she felt the process was very time consuming.

Michelle however, had less visible results at her first laser check up. But, she told Action News she was still pleased with the progress she was making.

Then another four weeks later when our cameras returned Michelle said she really saw a big difference in her tattoo after her second laser treatment.

"I can see a huge difference with my tattoo," said Michelle.

And Rebecca's laser results were even more visible after her second laser treatment.

In fact, Dr. Pollack said that Rebecca will no longer need another treatment. But, when it came to the Tat B Gone cream, Rebecca said she didn't notice any difference in the color of her tattoo.

She was unimpressed with the progress of Tat B Gone.

"I didn't see any difference with the Tat B Gone. The time that's involved and I haven't seen any visible results," said Rebecca.

Laser tattoo removal can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the size of the tattoo and the amount of treatment you need.

We reached out to the company that manufacturers Tat B Gone repeatedly, but Action News' attempts to get a hold of them went unanswered.

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