Disappearing Ink

In prison, tattoos can help protect an inmate by displaying his gang allegiance and by making him look more intimidating. But it doesn’t help a bit when he’s back on the outside trying to get a job. Fixing that problem is exactly the mission Dr. David Ores found for himself. Ores is a medical doctor and a tattoo enthusiast, and dedicates his time to helping low-income patients.

A few years ago, Ores bought a giant laser and started charging people to remove their tattoos. The work began as a lucrative sideline to help underwrite services for his low-income clients. A complete erasure can require up to a dozen sessions and cost $3,000. Not long after, one of Dr. Ores’ colleagues asked him for a favor. A friend, a former gang member, was desperate for a job, but the tops of his fingers were tattooed with the words “BABY CRIP,” a deal breaker for most employers. The man wanted the tattoo erased, but couldn’t afford the treatment. Ores volunteered to remove it for free. Soon, Ores was offering his services gratis to any former gang member or inmate with a tattoo on his face, hands or neck—places that couldn’t be easily obscured by clothing. Now, people come to him seeking to change their lives. In canceling out a man’s marks, the doctor is midwife to a new identity.

Ores is so dedicated to his tattoo-removal patients that he has a series of numbers tattooed on his arm showing the various phases of removal, to help him explain the process to patients. Read about Dr. Ores and his patients, the full-face tattooed ex-cons, the battered women with ownership tats, and those who just regret their past decisions, at Narratively. -via The Week

(Image credit: Per Liljas)

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