Tattoo Removal Booms in Slow Job Market

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By Lawrence Dechant

With the job market recovering but still shaky, people with tattoos find it even harder to get hired, prompting them to reconsider their body art.

According to The Patient's Guide, a website comprised of 25 niche publications dedicated to skin care, laser tattoo removal has increased 32 percent over the past year, with many citing employment as a main reason for the treatment.

Dr. Jen Mundt of Delete Tattoo Removal in Phoenix said she sees about 20 to 22 people a day looking to remove their tattoos for prospective jobs.

"The trend I've noticed the most is usually college students who have finished their education, and it's a mistake they made a few years ago, and they're looking for a job," Mundt told ABC News.  "And, people who have lost their jobs and are trying to get back into the workforce and gain an edge."

Mundt said her clients are primarily concerned with tattoos that are located on the wrist and neck.

"A lot of businesses have a policy that does not allow tattoos that are visible," she said. "Sometimes you can't have them at all."

One of Mundt's clients, Gregory Barkley, told ABC 15 that his former boss took issue with a neck tattoo he had.

"He didn't like that too much," Barkley said. "He didn't like me to be recognized or the company to be recognized that way."

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Barkley says people used to refer to him as "the guy with the tattoo."

"It was basically an eyesore," he said. "It was not professional-looking at all."

He quickly got the tattoo removed and said it was a learning experience.

Mundt uses laser treatment to get rid of tattoos and said it takes on average about 10 appointments to completely remove a tattoo, with appointments taking place every six weeks. The process can take up to an hour each time.

She said the pain is almost unbearable without the use of a numbing agent, which is injected into the skin prior to the laser zapping the ink.

"The pain is like a really hot band snap with hot burning grease on the end of it," she said.

Prices vary based on size, but could reach up to $200 per session. Mundt said that although the price is high, especially for the unemployed, it should be viewed as an investment in one's future.

"It's like going back to school, yes you can go into debt, but removing your tattoo might help you get along further in your career," she said.