The Art of Removal: The PVD professionals behind tattoo removal

Photo courtesy of TattooMedic.

We may agree that the works displayed in the Louvre are classically respected pieces of art, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone enjoys them. These artworks may evoke feelings we don’t “vibe” with, their color schemes may not suit our tastes, their styles might not match our preferences, or perhaps (worst of all) we look at them and feel nothing. It is important that we understand our preferences, acknowledge our differences, and, as creative beings, have a space to express our artistic desires. Tattooing is a way to utilize the canvas of our bodies to celebrate our inner individuality, but what happens when we no longer want those works on display?

Doctor Richard Rosol, owner and medical director of TattooMedics, has been removing tattoos since 2015. Before providing laser tattoo removal services, Rosol was a pediatric doctor in rural Maine. Rosol says of this switch in professions, “I always lived life in a way where I could change lanes easily. I thought ‘Tattoo removal is cool.’ And one thing led to another, and we’ve been going for nine-and-a-half years. It is really rare for a doctor to be devoting every day, all day, to tattoo removal.” Rosol is certainly dedicated, making sure that he is in the room with every patient, administering every removal.

His business partner and life partner, Enrico Cittadino, who joined TattooMedics in the fall of 2015, shares a similar vision with Rosol. Cittadino moved to California from Italy when he was 20, commenting, “I always enjoyed being with people. Talking to people, hearing their stories. I worked a long time in the business industry, and things that affect the way you look, affect people in deep ways.”

Cittadino and Rosol met by chance when Rosol, an Airbnb host, rented out a night to Cittadino. Revisiting this encounter, Cittadino smiles with a familiar truism, “and the rest was history.” It appears that fate does have a master plan, because these two are perfectly balanced; the description of yin and yang. Rosol, a practiced doctor, has the eye of an expert — always looking for reasons, explanations — someone who is incredibly enthusiastic about the arduous process behind removing tattooed eyeliner. Cittadino, on the other hand, has a slow cadence, and an artistic, observant air. Rosol searches for the latest science of tattoo removal, while Cittadino searches for the why.

Both believe that tattooing is a form of artwork, and the reason for removing a tattoo is even more telling than the tattoo itself. Rosol finds that “the removal part of [a client’s] story has equal weight as the origin of the tattoo. We remove some tattoos [from people who] are trying to get past gang associations, prison associations, not just the visible ones, but ones that have the connotations of abusive relationships.” Cittadino is convinced that “there is a reason for every tattoo, and it’s the same with the removal process.” Some tattoos reflect the fickle nature of our hearts. Cittadino sees a lot of people with the tattooed map of falling in and out of love. Removing these tattoos offers a physical clean slate when a metaphorical one might be hard to envisage.

Cittadino and Rosol take their job very seriously. Not only is tattoo removal emotionally charged, it’s a medical procedure — a fact a lot of people do not know, and quite an important medical procedure at that, considering your skin is your body’s largest organ. Rosol, ever the specialist, goes into the specifics of tattoo removal. From what I gathered: tattoo removal is performed with a high powered laser that hits the tattoo in extremely short pulses. The ink inside the tattoo is formed of crystals, so as the laser continually hits the area, the heat causes the crystals to explode. This process is repeated for each layer of skin, until the ink has completely vanished. It takes weeks, months, sometimes even years, to finish. TattooMedics is different from other businesses because Rosol says, “We form long-term relationships with our patients. They have babies, they move, they get married and divorced. The tattoo is in charge, that is the uncomfortable truth.”

Tattoo removal is not an easy job, something that the internet is notorious for portraying. Rosol and Cittadino both have horror stories of customers who come in with their botched removals, haunted with permanently scarred skin, and drained bank accounts. Because of his background as a doctor, Rosol treats removal as a medical procedure. He makes sure to numb each patient because of removal’s painful nature and he keeps his space immaculately clean. However, Rosol does worry. “It is completely unregulated,” he says. “It constantly stresses me out knowing that people do it without proper training. People like to put their trust in the people that are doing the treatment, then there comes a time when they feel like something is wrong. By then, it is too late.”

Their innate professionalism and genuine passion for their business are what make TattooMedics different from the rest. Cittadino proudly states, “People tell us they love coming to us. That’s not what people say about a place that hurts them. We form relationships, we’re not just selling something. Before they commit, I tell them everything about the procedure, the cost, and the amount of time it’s going to take, if it is even honestly worth it for them. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t.”

Rosol and Cittadino sit behind an organized desk, behind a smooth white wall. The room is small and brightly lit, but not abrasive. It is quiet, one almost expects to hear the slow trickle of a water cooler, or the hum of a tiny aquarium, things conjuring early memories of a dentist’s office. Rosol looks at Cittadino, with a thought that appears to have just come to him, “As a business owner, I think if you do everything nice and do it nicely, it just happens.”

To learn more about the TattooMedics visit tattoomedics.com.