Machine offers low-cost alternative to remove tattoos

Monday, November 1st 2004, 5:48 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ People with gang tattoos who meet certain criteria could get the tattoos that declare their gang affiliation removed for free.

The Latino Community Development Agency has ordered a $10,200 machine that will use infrared light to remove gang tattoos in an office at an Oklahoma City community center.

The agency is working on criteria to determine who will be eligible for the free service.

``The idea is to give the opportunity to people who want to make a change in their lifestyle, and the tattoo is an impediment to that,'' said Patricia Fennell, the agency's director.

``There will be certain criteria so we don't end up removing tattoos from folks who changed their mind or want a different design or those who have insurance and resources,'' Fennell said.

Dr. Roy Forsythe, a retired Edmond plastic surgeon, will operate the machine on a volunteer basis after completing training in San Antonio, where Dr. Tolbert S. Wilkinson has pioneered the low-cost method.

Forsythe hopes to start removing tattoos at the agency by November.

The machine, which looks like a handheld hair dryer, emits infrared energy that dissolves tattoos of any color, usually over three to five sessions.

The procedure leaves second-degree burns and blisters that are treated with antibiotics and a pressure wrap.