GURNEE – There are a number of reasons clients seek the services of Vamoose Tattoo Removal, which has two Chicago locations and opened a third office in Gurnee last month.
Perhaps that skull, tribal art or band name they impulsively got as a teenager no longer fits their adult personality, their prospective employer prohibits ink or they simply want to lighten an old tattoo to replace it with a better one.
Whatever the reason, Vamoose Tattoo Removal doesn’t consider it any of their business.
“We don’t ask our clients why they want their tattoos removed or lightened, but people often tell us,” said Dr. Howard Bennett, co-owner of Vamoose Tattoo Removal.
“As part of our philosophy, we’re very non-judgmental. We’re part of the tattoo community, that’s part of what differentiates us from a lot of the other places that do tattoo removal,” he continued.
In fact, Vamoose Tattoo Removal maintains relationships with the local tattoo shops, and tattoo artists will often refer their clients to them to lighten or remove old ink in preparation for a new tattoo.
Since opening their Bucktown location in 2013 and Lincoln Square office in 2014, Vamoose Tattoo Removal has serviced over 2,000 clients, some coming from Northern Illinois and even Southern Wisconsin.
“We have clients that travel an hour to two hours to get to our Chicago location,” Bennett said.
Because of this, Bennett, along with Vamoose co-founder Dr. Marc Falleroni, decided Gurnee would be an ideal location for a third office.
Bennett and Falleroni, who are board-certified anesthesiologists, have worked together for 20 years, practicing on the North Shore. They completed their anesthesia training at Northwestern University Medical School and are members of the American Society of Anesthesiology and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
Laser tattoo removal is a fast-growing and exciting industry, said laser technician Haley Newberger, who practices at Vamoose’s Gurnee location and also serves as manager.
Newberger has been a state-licensed aesthetician for six years and a certified laser technician for four years. Prior to that, the Lakes Community High School graduate attended beauty school at Tricoci University in Libertyville.
“I’ve always had an interest in the beauty industry and over time that developed into the medical aspect of the beauty industry,” she said.
Tattoo removal is interesting work, Newberger said. “It allows me to help different kinds of people, whether that want their tattoo completely removed or lightened to get something else. Each person is different.”
At Vamoose, the tattoo removal procedure is performed by licensed laser technicians, with Bennett and Falleroni serving as medical directors. They consult with each client to determine if they are a good candidate for laser tattoo removal, because certain medications, even smoking, can affect the process.
Vamoose uses the state-of-the-art Quanta Q-Plus C laser which delivers a burst of light energy that breaks up the tattoo’s ink into small particles that are removed by the body’s immune system.
Different wave lengths of light are needed to break up the ink, according to the color of the ink in the tattoo, Bennett said. The Quanta Q-Plus C is unique in that it includes all three wave lengths. But not every tattoo removal business uses this. Some laser technicians use a laser that is best suited to remove black ink and simply increase the energy needed to remove other colors.
“This can damage the surrounding skin tissue and lead to scarring,” Bennett said.
Black ink is the easiest to remove. The number of sessions needed to remove a tattoo vary depending on the size and color.
Sessions start at $79. Amateur tattoos can sometimes be removed in a single session while multi-color, professional tattoos can take more than 10 sessions, according to Vamoose’s website. Lightening tattoos for a cover-up can usually be accomplished in three to four sessions. A typical session takes 2-10 minutes.
It is recommended the client wait six weeks before their next session. Between sessions, it’s important to keep the area moist. Recovery is quick, like a minor sunburn, Bennett said.
Does it hurt?
As when getting a tattoo, some people worry having one removed is going to be painful.
“It’s not the most comfortable procedure, but it’s so quick and we help alleviate the pain as much as we can. People say it wasn’t as bad as they thought,” Newberger said.
There are a few things Vamoose laser techs do to limit the pain.
“First of all, using the correct laser and energy is a big part of it,” Bennett said. “You also need to have technicians that are really trained and this is all we do.”
Vamoose uses a Zimmer Chiller that blows incredibly cold air on the skin and protects the surrounding tissue. Plain old ice is also used to cool the skin after the procedure.
“That’s adequate for about 90 percent of our clients. For the other 10 percent, we offer for no charge a local anesthetic ointment we put on about an hour before the procedure,” Bennett said.
Mihoreyah Thomas, 38, had her ex-husband’s nickname removed from the back of her neck at Vamoose’s Bucktown location. It was her first and only tattoo.
“I wanted it removed because we went through an ugly divorce and I couldn’t sleep with his name on my body,” she said.
Thomas, who discovered Vamoose through Facebook, began the tattoo removal process in January 2015. It took 11 sessions at 7-10 minutes each to complete.
“The first two sessions were the most painful. It feels like hot chicken grease popping on you,” Thomas said.
Despite the discomfort, Thomas said she is very pleased with the results, adding the staff at Vamoose is “wonderful, very accommodating and honest.”
If you go:
Vamoose Tattoo Removal
Where: 5250 Grand Ave., Gurnee
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; Closed Sunday and Monday
Info: Call 224-214-3178, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit vamoosetattooremoval.com for more information.