The Tattoo Erasers

Some who are inked have regrets. That’s where lasers come in. New technology is making the removal process easier, and more commonplace.

Ken Saler, a 61-year-old, semi-retired real estate maverick, has reinvented himself. His Advanced Laser Tattoo Removal office in the District has a steady stream of customers, all trying to dial back their everlasting tributes. Dozens of similar tattoo-removal businesses are opening across the country. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler uses a Quanta Q-Plus laser on Wayne Stokes, 34, of Baltimore, during a tattoo removal treatment at his office. Stokes wants to remove ink from his face and neck; he said he started getting tattoos when he was 16 to project a tougher image. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler uses the laser around the eyes of Wayne Stokes. When the laser hits the body, parts of the skin turn red and then frosted white. The ink crystallizes into smaller particles that will be removed by the immune system. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

“People ask me every day, ‘Why did you do it? Why did you put yourself through that pain of tattooing your entire face?’ ” Wayne Stokes says. “I’ve realized I don’t have to keep that trauma on my body.” (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

The tops of Wayne Stokes’s hands spell out “suffering” when he holds them side by side. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler works on the neck of Dave Adams, 36. “Tattoos were viewed as forever,” Adams says. “But now I like the idea that I can treat the skin like an artist can treat a canvas.” (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler, left, talks about the tattoos on Dave Adams. Adams wants three removed: a Star of David, a Hindu yantra and an upside-down cross. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler uses a laser on Lizeth Pleitez, 30, during her tattoo-removal session. “It was a homemade tattoo done at a party,” Pleitez says of the large pink flower on her lower back. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Ken Saler puts a bandage over Lizeth Pleitez’s lower back tattoo. The removal process could take up to 10 sessions. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 26 and 40 have at least one tattoo. (Matt McClain / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

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