‘This looks really bad’: Survey shows many people suffer from tattoo regret

Tattoos are everywhere today.

Many celebrities, famous athletes, and even the person next to you in the grocery store often have some form of body art.

“If I had to describe it, it does feel like scratching a sunburn,” said Alaina Flanagan, a Dracut grandmother who is having a tattoo created at the Always and Forever Tattoo Studio in Watertown.

She’ll sit for many sessions, for hours at a time, as artist Holly Jane creates a sleeve to honor Flanagan’s grandmother.

Jane says her job is to help her clients realize their ideas as a tattoo. She added some of her clients consider how the tattoo will age.

Boston 25 News asked Worcester residents about their tattoo choices and if they have any regrets about them.

Peter Barbour told us his tattoos are dedicated to his daughters.

“I don’t regret them at all. I love my kids and they’ll be with me until the day I’m gone.”

Personal messages give Heather Lynn confidence she’ll be happy with her choices.

“‘I’m not really concerned about them aging well because I get them personally for me and not really for show.”

According to a national survey by Advanced Dermatology in Illinois, tattoo regret builds over time.

Six months to a year after getting one, 15% of those asked said they regret getting body art.

After two years, that number jumps to 51%.

Dr. Alissa Lamoureaux, a board-certified dermatologist in Shrewsbury, says she’s definitely seeing an uptick in people looking to have a tattoo removed.

“It’s people in the 30-40 age group. People may have had a tattoo put on at a younger age of life and had it for a little while, and at this point, it doesn’t match their style.”

Dr. Lamoureaux uses state-of-the-art laser technology. She thinks improved tools like the ones she employs might be encouraging more people to seek removal.

Still, the process is painful and requires multiple visits.

“We always try to give realistic expectations. There can be variability of how the ink is made and where it’s located under the skin and how stubborn it may be,” explained Dr. Lamoureaux. “Black ink is typically easier to get rid of and colors can be a little more challenging.”

Kevin Nunes of Waltham is pursuing another strategy to deal with a tattoo he doesn’t like.

“I was like, hey, this looks really bad.”

He’s covering up an undesired tattoo with a new one. It’s called a cover-up.

The first tattoo was created after he came home from serving in Afghanistan.

It featured a symbol that was “adopted and kind of co-opted by some militia groups on the West Coast. Nothing I’m associated with, nothing I want to be associated with,” explained Nunes.

Now he’s going bolder with a cover-up on his chest that features a honey badger on one side, and travel icons on the other side that recall a friend who was an adventurer.

When asked what advice he’d give people who are going to get a tattoo that ages well, Nunes respond “It’s very difficult to see into the future and understand the impact of what you’re getting on your body at the time. . . but then again, it’s who you are that time which is kind of a beautiful thing.”

Jane at Always and Forever Tattoo Studio is seeing more people coming in to get rid of a tattoo. “The recent ones have been a little bit more impulsive.”

Dr. Lamoureaux has this advice: “If you think about it and six months later, you’re still thinking about, and you’re really interested in doing it, then I think that’s a good, valid decision.”

When it comes to getting, or removing, a tattoo costs vary greatly.

It can depend on the design, the size, and the number visits needed.

It’s safe to say that costs often exceed hundreds of dollars.

The survey by Advanced Dermatology revealed placement can be a factor too. The most regretted location is the forearm, followed by the bicep and the chest.

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