BUCKTOWN — With one-fifth of our nation's adults now sporting a tattoo, there are bound to be a few regrets. Even in the heavily inked confines of Wicker Park and Bucktown.
For years, the only option to undo a tattoo was to cover up the offending illustration with another tattoo or submit to painful procedures that included rubbing off the tattooed skin with dermabrasion, scrubbing the skin with salt (salabrasion), cutting away the tattooed skin (excision) or using acid to melt away the tattooed layers of skin.
More recently, lasers have been used to erase a tattoo and that is where Vamoose Tattoo Removal comes in.
The business hopes to open "by the end of this week or next" in a retail space at 1864 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown, according to co-owner Dr. Howard Bennett.
Vamoose, which means "to disappear," will use an FDA-approved laser to remove or lighten tattoos over a series of sessions in an office on the retail level of a new luxury condo building, Bennett said.
Laser tattoo removal uses lasers to break down the ink from a tattoo into smaller particles that are absorbed by the body.
An anesthesiologist based in the north suburbs, Bennett said he and business partner Dr. Marc Falleroni, also an anesthesiologist, believe "there's a void in Chicago for exclusive tattoo removal shops."
Bennett said Bucktown was chosen for Vamoose's first shop because it's "a young vibrant community with lots of people with tattoos and lots of tattooing."
That quantity of ink also comes with a fair share of regret and "What was I thinking?" sentiment.
"I really wanted it at the time, but now I just want nothing on the back of my hand," Derek T. Mullins, 44, said of the squirrel tattoo on the back of his right hand and wrist that he got when he was 29.
Mullins, the owner of Metamorph Tattoo Studios at 1456 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park, said he gets "at least two or three requests weekly" for cover-ups from people who want to camouflage a design they no longer love with a new tattoo.
"I ask them, 'Do you want a cover-up or do you want clear skin?" Mullins said.
Mullins said since tattoo removal is "less costly than it used to be and the technology is more effective," some of his customers that come in wanting a cover-up decide to get their tattoo removed instead.
Mullins has been referring clients to a medical center in Vernon Hills that he's using himself. So far, he has undergone two sessions at "around $200 each," spaced about six weeks apart. Mullins estimates that it will take a total of four sessions to completely remove his unwanted rodent.
For Mullins and other local residents wishing to remove tattoos, or lighten existing ones, a laser tattoo removal shop owned by medical professionals that focuses exclusively on tattoo removal should be welcome news.
Monika Kecki, a certified laser technician trained to remove tattoos, will run the day-to-day operations at Vamoose, while Bennett and Falleroni will serve as medical directors overseeing the practice, Bennett said.
Vamoose's removal sessions, which last between five and 10 minutes, will be "as low as $79," Bennett said. The number of sessions required ranges on how in-depth the tattoo is, how much ink is in the tattoo and its colors, Bennett said.
"There's a lot of variables, after we have a free consultation to evaluate the tattoo and the person's medical history, we provide an estimated range of the number of sessions" it will take to remove the tattoo.
In addition to removing a tattoo. Vamoose will also provide a lightening service, for those who want to put a new tattoo over an old one, Bennett said.
Vamoose will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Call 773-661-2300 or consult the Vamoose Facebook page for updates.