Young professionals coming clean with tattoo removal

Tattoo removal treatments cost $100 a visit.
Published: .
Updated: .

The number of tattoos is going up, especially with young people, but as they enter the job market, they are finding employers who have strong opinions about a permanent mark.

Organic chemistry is the class that is keeping Abby Fleck at the study table.

"I am studying all day and night, I work at a hospital, so I am getting lots of hands-on experience with patient care," Fleck said.

The 24-year-old is transitioning from her days as a Colts cheerleader and the 18-year-old who got a multi-starred tattoo on the top of her left foot.

"I was on my own in college and I could, so I did it. I'm old enough, I am going to go do it," she said.

Abby liked the tattoo at first, but now, wants it gone.

"I feel like I am becoming more mature and I feel like whenever I was younger, a tattoo shows kind of a youthful type, like childish, college kid and I'm trying to be more of an adult professional and I feel like just that kind of contradicts that," Fleck said.

Abby is undergoing treatments to get rid of the tattoo at Indy Laser Tattoo Removal on the north side. A technician uses a laser to remove the ink during her sixth visit, which cost $100 per treatment.

"All the laser is really doing is breaking up the ink particles into smaller particles that can actually be dispensed through the body and flushed out through the body system," said technician Brittany Farrell.

Abby likens the sensation to being snapped by a rubber band - repeatedly.

"I have a very low pain tolerance and I can tolerate it, so I think most people would be able to," she said.

The more the tattoo fades, the closer Abby is to wearing shoes that show the top of her feet when she becomes a physician's assistant.

"Trying to present myself in a professional manner everywhere I go, because I know everything follows you these days," she said.

That's a good strategy, according to career coach Teresa Conroy-Roth.

"Seconds. You have literally seconds to make that first impression," she said. "If I am looking for a white collar job, don't show that tattoo."

Farrell says preparing for interviews and landing jobs are the number one reason clients come in for treatments.

"Neck tattoos are number one and those want to be off because you can see them. There is no way of covering them," she said. "And definitely the feet. Definitely the ankles and the feet."

If you're interested in treatments, you need to plan ahead. The newer and more complex tattoo designs could take up to ten months of monthly treatments.

The black ink is removed first, then color is targeted in follow-up visits.

"With colored ink, you get the more permanent white spots her and that is where the laser is hitting and breaking up that ink," Farrell said.

Older and faded tattoos are nearly erased after just one treatment.

Conroy-Roth says regardless of the subject matter of the tattoo, Generation Y and Millenials hitting the job market risk being labeled.

"Rebel. They are a rebel," she said. "There is a completely different mindset and expectation with this young college population that is coming out of school. Their self-esteem is so much higher and they are not worried about whether or not they have tattoos or not.

"It's just another reason for someone to say 'No, they don't fit with the culture of the organization'," Conroy-Roth said.

Fleck has finals to face before her first day at her dream job and plenty of time to minimize the mark with a purpose that's passed. She says she spent $200 on her tattoo and, so far, has spent $600 on treatments to get it off.