Tattoos have long been coveted, and every generation has its own style. But, before you spend thousands to get any part of your body inked, think hard about a time in future when you may have to remove it. Doctors say while it hurts when you get inked, the process to remove a tattoo is far more painful and costlier.
Tattoos, too, have a shelf life. The colour of the ink fades with time and it may happen that you want it removed for a particular reason. Here’s a real-life situation: 11,000 people have visited the civil hospital in Ahmedabad in the last 11 years to remove their tattoos.
There are many professions, too, that do not allow tattoos. Young men and women applying for the armed forces, police, paramilitary, civil services, marketing, aviation among others are declared unfit if they have tattoos. This, too, is a major reason why people opt for tattoo removal procedures.
In 2010, the civil hospital witnessed 395 such persons who wanted their tattoo removed; in 2011, the number was 700, 900 in 2012, 1,617 in 2013, 1,611 in 2015, 939 in 2016, 779 in 2017, 816 in 2018, 966 in 2019, 173 in 2020 and 251 in 2021.
The number of tattoo removal procedures went down in 2020-2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, May this year alone has recorded 260 tattoo removal cases.
Umesh Karia, an assistant professor in the department of skin at the civil hospital, told News18 Gujarati that “there are rules for government jobs and tattoos are a deterrent, especially when going for a job in defence, army or navy”.
“If there is a tattoo on the body, then the person is declared medically unfit. That’s why boys and girls get their tattoos removed,” Karia added.
How much does tattoo removal cost?
Every day, 50 to 60 men and women come to the skin department of the civil hospital for tattoo removal. The hospital has a machine equipped with modern technique to remove tattoos.
While there are no side effects to the procedure, one sitting to remove a small tattoo costs Rs 700 whereas the sitting charge for removing a big tattoo is Rs 1,000. It takes eight sittings in total to remove a tattoo completely.
Tattoo removal, however, costs less at the civil hospital. Jigar Pansuriya, who came to the civil hospital to get a tattoo removed, told News18 Gujarati, “I want to join the army. To join the army, one should not have a tattoo on any part of the body. I got a tattoo done when I was in Class 6. While preparing for a government job, I found that getting a tattoo would make me ineligible for a medical certificate. For this, I have removed the tattoo. A private hospital in Junagadh said it will cost over Rs 60,000. Later, I found tattoos are being removed in the Ahmedabad civil hospital as well.”
Abhishek, who came for the same procedure, said he got his tattoo in Class 8. Now, I want to join the defence servives. So, the tattoo has been removed. The cost of the tattoo was only Rs 400. At present, a private hospital charges Rs 40,000 to 50,000 for tattoo removal. Whereas tattoos can be removed in a civil hospital for only Rs 5,000.”