Unless you were hiding under a rock this weekend you'll have no doubt seen the photograph of Cheryl Cole's new body art flying around the internet. Social media practically went into meltdown as the image of the pop star's derriere shocked her fans, even managing to draw focus from a gyrating, practically naked Miley Cyrus.
For those of you that haven't seen the snap, the Girls Aloud star has showcased a new tattoo- and it's big. No, not big. Massive. The inking, a mass of red and black roses, covers her entire backside as well as her lower back and is startling to say the least.
While the Call My Name singer is no stranger to body art, already sporting five 'inkings', her recent addition has been labelled extreme (amongst some less printable adjectives) and left many questioning if she will live to regret having such a large tattoo.
Many people go on to wish they had never got their bodies inked- particularly if you're left with a lasting tribute to someone you'd rather forget- and tattoo removal is more popular than ever in the UK. So what can you do if you decide your 'I love One Direction' tattoo was a mistake?
There are various options out there to remove unwanted tattoos, including microdermabrasion, but on the whole laser tattoo removal is your best bet. The popular procedure has been available for around 25 years and involves a laser which generates a controlled beam of light that targets pigment in the skin. Essentially this causes the pigments in the tattoo to 'explode' into tiny spots, which the body can then reabsorb.
Generally, a series of treatments are necessary to eliminate a tattoo, although individual success is primarily determined by the kind of tattoo you have, its size, and which colours have been used in the design. Cosmetic doctors say blues, reds (bad news, Cheryl) and greens are typically hardest to remove from the skin, although if a tattoo artist has used a custom blend of inks it can be difficult to predict how the tattoo will fade.
Laser tattoo removal does not offer overnight results and can be uncomfortable for the patient. You will need several sittings (£50-£300 per session on average) and it's important to do your homework on the treatment so you're aware of the pros and cons. These may include hypopigmentation as the laser specifically targets melanin in the skin. The most important factor is choosing an experienced cosmetic doctor or plastic surgeon, who can prove their success with previous patients, and offer you realistic and impartial advice.
I hear from men and women who want a quick fix, but the truth is there isn't one. Tattoo removal can be a lengthy experience (it's suggested you wait 4 weeks between sessions) and some larger tattoos can take up to 20 trips to a clinic, which obviously can be expensive, but modern lasers- in the right hands- can offer a great outcome. My advice is to ask your practitioner about Q-switched equipment and most importantly make sure whoever treating you is trained specifically in tattoo removal. Experience really is the key when it comes to this kind of procedure.
For in depth advice about laser tattoo removal please visit www.thecosmeticsurgeryguide.org, where you can find treatment advice and features relating to this procedure.