Tattoos: easy come, not so easy go, unless you're rich

tattooI once saw a man at his sentencing hearing sporting a spider's web tattoo covering his chin and jaw. Given how many employers now require employees to cover any tattoos they might have, this fellow's prospects are probably limited to telemarketing. He'll have to make a lot of license plates to pay for an increasingly pricey alternative, tattoo removal.

A recent survey of HR directors found that almost four in 10 believe it's OK to pass on hiring someone because of tattoos or facial hardware. Many have a policy requiring any such art be covered while at work (Starbucks included, according to this story.)

Removing a tat that is standing in the way of obtaining that perfect job can cost upwards of $1,500 for four square inches. (I could buy four square inches of 14-carat gold, .064 inches thick, for $635.)

This cost is for a laser treatment, done in an average of 10 sessions. The laser zaps the ink particles, smashing them into even smaller bits that can be carried away and flushed by the body's defense systems. Another method is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, which uses high-intensity light for same purpose, at ten bucks a pulse. Many pulses are required.

And now the really bad news. Most removals are not covered by insurance or Medicare. To have any chance of getting the procedure covered, you'd have to show lifestyle disruption, chronic pain, or complications. And no, complications does not include your new girlfriend finding the name of your ex tattooed on your John Henry.

According to an article in the Huffington Post by Hilary Kramer, one doctor told her that, of the 40 million people sporting skin art, 17% are looking to erase them.

Even the finest tattoos are at the mercy of wrinkles. In an era when more Americans than ever are entered the years of arthritis and follicle failure, the art may suffer, too.
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