Tattoo removal ‘surges’ in third most tattooed city

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HENRICO, Va. – Christine Greenberg wanted a simple proposal.

“The way he did it was perfect,” she said.

Her husband Lenny woke up to get her a cup of coffee like he always does and asked Christine to marry him.

“It was a really nice way to start off our relationship,” said Lenny.

Now, the two newlyweds want a permanent reminder of that special moment. They’ve decided to get matching coffee cup tattoos.

“It’s a very us thing to do, we both have a lot of tattoos already so it’s just another commitment we were ready for,” said Christine.

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Christine and Lenny are not alone.

Several years ago Richmond was named the third most tattooed city in the US, behind only Las Vegas and Miami.

The River City averages almost 15 tattoo shops per 100,000 people, just within the city itself.

“I think with it being, and having been a college town for a long time, there’s a lot more artistically inclined people and a lot more creative people,” said Lenny.

That statistic is no shock to Christine. As a VCU grad, she said tattoos are a large part of the culture in Richmond.

“It’s an artistic way to show your personality, your likes, what you are interested in and where you’ve come from without having a nice print on the way,” said Christine.

But for all the people who get tattoos, there are plenty who want to get rid of one as well. 

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“There’s a long history of ‘tattoo removal’ but in the last three to five years technology has truly made some significant advances and therefore gaining popularity,” said Jana Powell with East Coast Laser Tattoo Removal.

Pari Barr has a tattoo on her ankle and her sister’s birthday on the back of her neck.

“I grew up a little bit,” said Barr, “I think I matured past my rebellious stage and realized 'Uh oh I’ve got some pretty permanent reminders' of not the best times of my life.”

Since opening in April of 2013, Powell said she’s seen a surge in business.

“I know that I was just having a hard time feeling as if I could really be taken professionally with visible tattoos, but I know that’s not the case in all scenarios,” said Barr.

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Pari Barr sits for a session of tattoo removal

Powell said removing a tattoo used to be much more expensive, and more difficult.

“It’s not as painful as I thought it would be,” said Barr.

Powell said there is a gender gap she sees when it comes to buyer’s remorse.

“Women are three times more likely to experience some form of tattoo regret over a male,” said Powell. “Men tend to say well that was my drunken night with my buddies, I’m going to live with it for the rest of my life, and a woman on the other hand may feel judgment from her children.”

Barr still has one or two more visits to go, but said the slight discomfort she does experience is worth it.

“I’m ready to close the tattoo chapter of my life,” said Barr.