Nadia Pryadilova, a Zapatat laser technician (right), demonstrates laser tattoo removal. Photo by James Dickinson
If your body art turns out to be more of an encumbrance than a thing of beauty, a new laser tattoo removal facility in Short Pump offers a solution.
Christian Slavin founded Zapatat in 2011 and opened its first location in Arlington County before branching out to the Richmond area in April. Slavin says he saw an opportunity. "I believed that there was demand that wasn't being met because the barriers to removal were so high," he says.
Rated the third most tattooed city in the nation, Richmond seemed like a natural home for this venture, he says. Plus, "It's super friendly and has big-city amenities and a small-city charm," Slavin adds. "We have received a very warm reception."
In addition to Zapatat, located at 11567 W. Broad St., another tattoo removal business called Rethinking the Ink opened in April at 2720 Enterprise Parkway in Henrico County. Owner Chuck Powell says the majority of his clients are women between the ages of 25 and 50 who find that their tattoos are hindering them from pursuing the careers they want.
Previously, getting rid of a no-longer-wanted tattoo meant removing the top layers of skin through dermabrasion or other means. Removal could be costly and painful. Now, laser treatments can break up the tattoo pigment colors with intense light pulses. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, affiliated doctors performed nearly 100,000 tattoo removal procedures in 2011, up from 86,000 in 2010.
Both Zapatat and Rethinking the Ink use a method known as R20. At Zapatat, Slavin says, four treatments with a RevLite Si laser are done in 20-minute intervals during one session, with varying laser settings and cooling techniques.
"We spent about six months working though the technical issues," he says. "There is a lot of skill and artistry involved."
This method is described by the company as being effective on all skin types and almost all ink colors with minimal side effects, removing between 60 percent and 90 percent of the color without damaging surrounding skin. Prices vary according to the tattoo size, but Slavin says that most of Zapatat's removals cost between $750 and $1,500.