It seemed like a good idea at the time, but plentyof people are beginning to rethink their ink.
Sometimes you need to erase the past, apparently,before you can face the future.
Barbara Odom is having a small tattoo removed fromher skin, just to the right of the small of her back.
"It was just something I did on an impulsewith friends and now it's something I want removed," said Odom. "I'molder now and I think it's just something that should be removed now."
And with a rhythmic zap, the tattoo's days arenumbered although it'll probably take about seven treatments to laser itaway forever.
"(The process) is called selective photothermolysis,"explained Dr. Will Kirby. "What that means is laser light enters theskin, fragments the ink into microscopic pieces, and then your own bodydestroys those pieces."
Kirby is medical director for Dr. TATTOFF, a chainof tattoo removal clinics that chose Houstonfor its sixth location.
"Approximately 25 to 35 percent of the Houston population overthe age of 18 has a tattoo," said Kirby. "So you have a lot ofpeople that you know with tattoos. They might not let you know that they havethem but we're here to help them."
If the name Dr. Will Kirby rings a bell, perhaps it'sbecause he has appeared on QVC, talk shows and reality TV series.
But the reality of Kirby's day job probablyisn't what you think.
"(It is a) common misconception that peoplewith tattoos are bikers and gang members," said Kirby. "That is notthe case. Our average patient is female, between the ages of 25 and 35 and hastattoo regret. And (she's) looking for one reason or another to changeher previous lifestyle."
That change can be more than just skin deep.
"It's amazing what people will come out hereand tell you," said Rashmi Momin, one of the clinicians who wields thelaser at Dr. TATTOFF.
On Thursday, Momin had a client who wanted hisex-lover's name off his back. And he wanted it to hurt.
"I told him, ‘you should get somenumbing cream on the back.' He's like, ‘no, I need to just do this.'And I was like, ‘okay, well if that's what you feel like you need to do,then that's what you feel like.' And then after the treatment he's like, ‘nexttime I'm getting the numbing cream.'"
Makes tattoo removal seem like a kind ofsoul-cleansing ritual, doesn't it? Maybe for some people the ink mustcome off before life can go on.
"I won't miss it at all," vowed BarbaraOdom.