San Joaquin offers free tattoo removal for a better future

By Harry Goodall Jr.

“People say it’s like bacon, hot greasy bacon touching your skin” said nurse Chris Bendinelli. He was describing the pain of tattoo removal.

Dozens of people stood in line for a free tattoo removal program at El Concilio clinic a few months ago. The program is sponsored by the San Joaquin County Probation Department and funded by community programs that assist AB109 clients reported the Stockton Record.

“Free tattoo removals offer a chance to get your life back,” said David Sauceda, an AB109 mentor. The tattoo removal is a step toward a better future and employment. “Those gang-affiliated markings, prison markings, do put a wall, a barrier.”

Sauceda’s face was riddled with tattoos for years but could only be faintly seen now after removal. Those who chose to lose the tattoos are gaining their lives back, Sauceda said. “I am truly an example that change is possible.”

“I rather have a baby again, I rather go through labor and delivery” said 30-year-old Priscilla Grant about the painful process of tattoo removal. She held a bag filled with ice on her hand where a tattoo that spelled KILLA once was. It was the first of seven sessions that are needed for full removal of the tattoo. She endured the throbbing pain because she wanted to erase any signs of her past gang affiliation, especially her tattoo.

I rather go through labor and delivery”

The tattoos are removed using a laser that breaks up skin particles. Over seven sessions, the ink is absorbed back into the skin. Prison tattoos are easier to remove because of the poor quality of ink, according to Bendinelli, a nurse with ink off me. Tattoo removals can cost up to $5,000, depending on the number of sessions.

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