Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Goodbye, Tattoo
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Goodbye, Tattoo

Improved lasers zap tats that have outlived their welcome

Patrick Sullivan - December 9th, 2013  

Turns out that Balinese dancing girl tattooed across your chest might not have to be forever, after all.

Advances in laser technology have made tattoo removal faster, less painful and more effective. And the treatment is now available in Northern Michigan.

Cosmetic Skin & Laser Center, which has offices in Traverse City, Petoskey and Gaylord, recently started offering tattoo removal because of advances in the technology, said Kelly Bolton, office manager.

“I have been pushing for tattoo removal for quite a while. It’s the one phone call that we got and we didn’t offer the service,” Bolton said.

Now that they do offer the service, it appears there’s lots of demand. And more importantly, Bolton believes the procedure looks promising.

“We’re seeing results right after the first couple of treatments,” she said.


There is a particular type of person who most often inquires about tattoo removal -- it’s someone whose 30- or 40- or 50-year-old self doesn’t agree with the aesthetic tastes or the judgment of their 20-year-old self.

Bolton falls in that category. While on spring break with friends back in college she got a tattoo of a flower on her hip. She recently decided that the tat would have to go.

“A lot of times, people were young and made a decision that they didn’t realize they wouldn’t appreciate as much later on as they did at the time they were getting it,” Bolton said.

She said it’s common for people who become professionals to want to get rid of tattoos, especially if the tattoos are somewhere that is visible while they are at work.

“We had one gentleman who got one on college spring break and now he is a professional,” she said. “It’s on his arm so he feels like he has to hide it.”

Others interested in removal want to change or refresh a tattoo they already have. In order to do so, in some cases it’s easier to wipe part of it away so there is a clean slate for a tattoo artist to work.


Just because tattoos can be removed more effectively and with less pain than was previously the case, that doesn’t mean a decision to get a tattoo should be approached lightly, however.

“I would never, ever, ever go into getting a tattoo thinking, ‘Whatever, if I don’t like it, I’ll just get rid of it in five years,’” said Lee Middleton, R.N. B.S.N., a tattoo removal specialist at Cosmetic Skin & Laser Center.

In addition to the cost of getting a tattoo removed, there is the pain or discomfort, which, as with getting a tattoo, varies depending on where on the body the tattoo is located.

Middleton said lidocaine, an anesthetic applied as a topical cream, is used at her clinic to ease the pain. Nonetheless, it’s a medical procedure, and there are risks, such as infection.

Middleton said the biggest issue she raises with potential clients is that they need to keep their expectations in check. There are many variables that go into how difficult it will be to remove a tattoo and they are not always evident on the first office visit. Removal could take three visits, or it could take a dozen visits.


Black ink tattoos are typically the easiest to remove, but sometimes a black ink tattoo might not be what it appears.

Middleton was recently at a conference on advanced tattoo removal in Denver and she learned of a case of a man who expected a fairly easy removal, who actually required many more treatments than was expected.

Once clinicians removed a layer of black ink, they discovered a splotch of green ink, a pigment that is much harder for the laser to remove.

In other cases, people have discovered their tattoos are much easier to remove than was expected.

“People need to understand that it’s a work in progress, but the results that we have seen have been very promising,” Middleton said.

How heavy a hand the tattoo artist uses when applying the tattoo changes the difficulty of removal, also. Deep tattoos are harder to remove than those where the ink is closer to the surface.


Middleton is also planning to undergo tattoo removal herself.

She has a tattoo of a feather on her ankle that she no longer wants.

“It changed over time,” she said. “I’ve had it for 23 years. At the time it seemed to make a lot of sense to me.”

She was on a trip with a group of friends and they decided to get tattoos together.

“It eventually no longer looked like what it was supposed to look like,” she said.

Middleton said she never considered tattoo removal until the latest generation of laser removal recently became available. Older tattoo removal processes were too invasive and could leave behind skin that looked scarred.


Treatments start at around $150 and are not covered by insurance.

What’s left after a tattoo is removed with a laser isn’t a clean slate, though it’s closer to that than early generations of tattoo removal.

The treatments can as take a little as a minute for a small tattoo. The artwork should disappear after three to 10 treatments.

A mark on the skin will remain. Middleton said it’s like creating a little wound in the skin, and once the tattoo is gone, that blemish will be there in its place. It’s less noticeable than an unwanted tattoo, however. “Most people would rather have that than an ex-girlfriend’s name,” she said.

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