Think before you ink: Georgia a top state for regrettable tattoos

Kirin McHugh wanted a tattoo to honor her late Aunt Mary, who loved the ocean. She wasn't thrilled with the results.

Credit: Kirin McHugh

Credit: Kirin McHugh

Kirin McHugh wanted a tattoo to honor her late Aunt Mary, who loved the ocean. She wasn't thrilled with the results.

Tattoos can be a unique and beautiful way to express yourself but occasionally people wind up rethinking their ink.

Georgia ranks sixth among most “regrettable” tattoos, according to a recent study by the tattoo removal experts at LLTattoo. Researchers analyzed Google searches for topics such as removing or covering up tattoos and compared those numbers to the states’ populations.

“In the world of body art, tattoos often represent deeply personal stories, passions, or experiences. However, when alcohol is involved, some people might make decisions they later regret,” said LLTattoo spokesperson Mentor Dedaj.

The state with the most regrettable tattoos is Colorado, followed by Oregon and California, the study found. Washington and Arizona complete the top five. Florida is the only Southeast state beside Georgia to crack the top 10.

According to the Pew Research Center, 32% of Americans have a tattoo. Most are tickled pink with their ink but 24% say they regret getting one or more of their tattoos.

If that’s you, be aware that removal isn’t a “one and done” procedure, said Aysha Samone Monk, who consultants customers at Body Details in Kennesaw.

“It is a painful process, I’m not going to lie to you,” Monk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It does take many sessions and it’s going to be more painful than getting a tattoo.”

Maybe the tattoo has faded and the customer wants it removed to get it re-done. Other times, it’s just not the tattoo the person wanted, Monk said.

When her beloved Aunt Mary died, Kirin McHugh of Smyrna wanted to get a tattoo to honor her. She wanted a small fish because her aunt loved the ocean, along with her nickname for her, Mar.

But what she got on her foot wasn’t the sweet memory she wanted.

“I got talked into by an ex-boyfriend and the tattoo artist,” McHugh said. “The adrenaline was going and I kept telling myself he was the best one to make the decision because he was the artist.”

She hated the result so much, she initially hid it from her family. Now, McHugh said she tries to avoid looking at it.

“I just deal with it,” McHugh said. “I’m thinking about maybe getting it covered up or a redo so I don’t have to look at it every day. I should’ve left the tattoo parlor and said no.”

Colby Doepel of Smyrna says he has lost track of how many tattoos he has.

Credit: Colby Doepel

icon to expand image

Credit: Colby Doepel

Colby Doepel said he can’t keep track of all of his tattoos, and many represent stories and life experiences.

“I have a million,” he said “I don’t even know how many I have.”

Doepel said he doesn’t regret his tattoos, but his husband is not a fan.

“He hates tattoos and I’m covered in them,” Doepel said. “My body, my choice.”

As a nurse practitioner, Doepel says he catches some patients look at his tattoos, that all end by the mid-forearm. He doesn’t want them on his face or neck, he says.

“As many as I have, you’re blind to them. I don’t even notice them,” Doepel said. “I don’t see them until someone points them out.”

For those with “ragrets,” to cite the tatt scene in the Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis comedy “We’re The Millers,” there are options, according to Erin Cook, whose family runs Sink or Swim Aesthetics in Marietta. Cook said the business, previously known as Psycho Tattoo, has been in operation nearly 30 years.

“It’s not permanent,” Cook said. “It’s really not. We see it every single day.”

Often, people want the “it was cool back then” tattoos removed from their face or neck, Cook said. Or the person had a tattoo representing a gang they aren’t affiliated with anymore. And there are others, such as victims of sex-trafficking, who were “branded” with a tattoo they never wanted.

Other times, the original tattoo has simply faded over the years and the customer wants to update it with fresh ink, Cook said.

But it’s always important to do research before getting a tattoo or getting one removed, she explained.

“If you feel like you’re being pressured into making a decision into getting a tattoo, have the confidence to say no,” Cook said. “Have the confidence to work with your artist and so he or she can make you a rendering until you like it.”

It’s important to find a reputable place that values safety when getting a tattoo, Cook said. It’s not the time to find a bargain.

“I genuinely want to help people,” she said. “We are all about helping people look good, feel good, change something.”