An Exit Strategy For Tattoo-Wearers

This Aug. 22, 2006, photo provided by Freedom-2, Inc., shows Martin Schmieg, President and CEO of Freedom-2 in Yonkers, N.Y., sporting his first tattoo created by tattoo artist Carrie Kaplan of Big Joe and Sons Tattooing. AP Photo/Freedom-2

Having someone's name permanently etched into your flesh is considered by some to be the ultimate testament to a relationship. But wouldn't it be great to make that commitment without really making it ... forever?

A new dye due to hit tattoo parlors this fall will provide an exit strategy of sorts for people who have thought about getting a tattoo, then wondered if they might someday have regrets.

The permanent but removable ink is made by storing dye in microscopic capsules that will stay in the skin for good. But if that butterfly tattoo on the small of your back starts looking lame, it can be zapped away with a single laser treatment that is simpler and less painful than the barrage of treatments now needed.

While the idea might intrigue some — for example, the 36 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 who get tattoos, according to a 2006 study by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology — some enthusiasts say getting inked without the lifetime commitment wouldn't be appealing. Those in the industry are also skeptical, especially since the company making the dye says it will cost considerably more than a regular tattoo.

"I don't know anyone who would pay more for a tattoo where their thought is, `Maybe one day I'm going to remove this,"' said Jerry Lorito, vice president of the tattoo removal company Tat2BeGone in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The idea was developed in the late 1990s by Rox Anderson, a dermatology professor at Harvard University who founded the New York-based company Freedom-2 in 1999 to bring the product to market.
  • Sean Alfano

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