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Consumer Reports: Getting tattoos removed

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Many people who got that tattoo in their early years may not find it so appealing anymore. (WLS)

Many people who got that tattoo in their early years may not find it so appealing anymore.

Don't worry - not all tattoos are forever. Removing or replacing them with different ones is a growing industry.

Consumer Reports shows you what works and what is safe.

Although there is a wide range of body art enthusiasts, turning back the clock on tattoos has never been easier.

Just ask 32-year-old mom Maggie Cross who wants to swap out her 10 year-old tattoo for a new one.

"I'd like to add some more color so I'm going to get a more colorful tattoo over it," said Cross.

And Renee Simpson. She wants the name on her arm gone for good.

"It's keeping me present in a story that I've just outgrown," said Simpson.

Both women are having laser tattoo removal - a common procedure which has improved in recent years.

Here's how it works: pulses of high-intensity light break up the ink beneath your skin. The laser targets just the tattoo and won't damage the surrounding tissue. But it usually takes multiple sessions.

"It's the safest and most effective way out there to remove or even lighten tattoos. Stay away from other methods like dermabrasion or surgical excision," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Ellen Kunes.

But laser removal can have down sides. Sometimes painful - it may cause infection - or scarring. It's less effective on legs or feet - or if you're a smoker. And it can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

These procedures are not covered by insurance. But to Maggie and Renee, it's worth it.

"It's really just as a matter of convenience," said Simpson.

"I can always get it lightened again," said Cross.

Consumer Reports says you should be careful where you have your tattoos removed and says you should use physicians experienced in laser surgery.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org
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