KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It may have been cool at the time, but that tattoo can now be a job stopper. Many companies have adopted anti-ink policies. Military and police departments are also changing their view on body art. That's why business has more than doubled for Nikki Kerney of Way Gone Laser Tattoo Removal in Kaka'ako.
"In the past six months we've seen a significant increase," says Kerney, who says the majority of the business has been from military personnel and Honolulu police officers.
HPD adopted a new policy requiring officers to cover up tattoos using either clothes or makeup while on duty.
And the Army is considering a strict policy that would automatically disqualify a recruit with ink below the elbow, whether the art can be hidden or not. Current personnel would be grandfathered in, but rumors are going around that eventually the Army would forbid tattoos on the forearms for all.
George Barbine is having his ink removed at Way Gone Laser Tattoo Removal. Barbine is a Sergeant First Class and has been in the army for 13 years, but he still wants to get rid of the chinese symbol on his left wrist and the small tattoo on his finger.
"It's a good opportunity to set an example for the newer soldiers coming in. If they're held to a standard, I think, it's only fair that I hold myself to the same standard," says Barbine.
Tattoos are supposed to be permanent so removal is not easy. It's painful and expensive.
The laser uses a high-intensity light beam to shatter the pigment into tiny fragments which are absorbed into the body. Each pulse feels like a rubber band snap. The area can feel like a bad sunburn in the following hours and sometimes it blisters.
Barbine's treatment takes just five minutes but he'll need at least three sessions at about $100 each. Bigger tattoos with multiple colors can cost much more.
Think before you ink. If you are interested in a career in the military or with the police force, consider their policies before going under the needle ... of you could end up under the laser.