UK
31/10/2011 13:47 GMT | Updated 31/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Former White Supremacist Undergoes Radical Tattoo Removal To Leave Racist Past Behind (PHOTOS)

A former white supremacist has underdone 16 months of painful surgery to remove the racist tattoos that used to cover his face.

Bryon Widner was one of the United States' most notorious racists, and was known as an 'enforcer' for various gangs. He also founded the Vinlanders skinhead group in Ohio.

But after he rejected his former beliefs and tried to forge a new place in society he found that his mass of facial tattoos, many of which included racist messages and symbols, were holding him back.

Removing such a dense web of ink is no easy task however - certainly not in financial terms. He described his story in excruciating detail to the Associated Press.

The total cost of the procedure was an astonishing £20,233, and that was money that Widner and his wife Julie simply did not have.

Widner also faced death threats from former gang members, and now has to live in hiding.

"We had come so far," Widner's wife said. "We had left the movement, had created a good family life. We had so much to live for. I just thought there has to be someone out there who will help us."

Widner admited that he had even considered dousing his face in acid to remove the tattoos, such was his desperation to turn his life around.

That's when the couple did something they would never have expected - they turned to a black man for help.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins is the head of the One People's Project in Philadelphia, which works with reformed racists to find a new path.

They helped Widner with the cost of the operations, and over a painful 16 months and 25 surgeries he finally had his face back.

Widner has now found some work in construction and tattoos, has got new qualifications and is planning to start studying at a local college. It's the start of a long journey, Widner accepts - but as you can see from the pictures below he's no stranger to momentous tasks.