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Getting rid of tattoos

Turning back the clock on tattoos has never been easier.

Just ask Maggie Cross. She's a 32-year-old mother who wants to swap out her 10-year-old tattoo for a new one.

"I'd like to add some more color so I'm going to get a more colorful tattoo over it," said Cross.

And Renee Simpson - that name adorning her arm - she wants it gone for good.

"It's keeping me present in a story that I've just outgrown," said Simpson.

Both women are having laser tattoo removal - a common procedure which has improved in recent years.

Here's how it works: Pulses of high-intensity light break up the ink beneath your skin. The laser targets just the tattoo and won't damage the surrounding tissue. But it usually takes multiple sessions.

"It's the safest and most effective way out there to remove or even lighten tattoos. Stay away from other methods like dermabrasion or surgical excision," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Ellen Kunes.

But laser removal can have down sides. Sometimes painful - it may cause infection - or scarring. It's less effective on legs or feet - or if you're a smoker. And it can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

These procedures are not covered by insurance. But for an increasing number of people, it's well worth the money.

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