Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas at a movie premiere.
Actress Melanie Griffith is going through a painful divorce. But the removal of her tattoo with the first name of her husband Antonio Banderas may be almost as painful. And she’s not alone. Revenue for tattoo removals has surged 440% to an estimated $75.5 million over the last decade.
The tattoo removal industry is still growing and expected to hit $83.2 million over the next four years, keeping pace with growth in the overall tattoo industry, according to research firm IBISWorld. Revenue for the industry overall is estimated to be $3.4 billion in 2014, an annualized growth rate of just 2.9%, though there is strong demand for tattoos with intricate designs, such as 3-D tattoos, says IBISWorld lead analyst Andy Brennan. There are nearly 8,000 tattoo businesses in the U.S., with no dominant player.
Tattoo removal can also be a public statement. Griffith was recently photographed leaving a skin specialist in West Hollywood with a bandage on her right arm and was also photographed with the outline of the heart-shaped tattoo, but the name of her estranged husband almost erased. American teens may also find a cautionary tattoo tale in pop star Justin Bieber and check their smartphones to see if he will remove a tattoo on his wrist that bears a striking resemblance to his former girlfriend Selena Gomez.
Most tattoo removals are performed on people in their 30s and 40s, says Michael Kulick, a San Francisco-based plastic surgeon. “What was attractive in your 20s is not so attractive in your 30s,” he says. Costs vary from $500 up, depending on the color and depth of the ink in the skin. The ideal color for removal is black because that tattoo will be at the same depth in the skin and the same wavelength for the laser to remove the ink. “Now it’s very fashionable to have pastels and yellow, which is very difficult to […]