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Posted July 13, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Doctor on mission to erase unwanted tattoos
By Ben Orcutt -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- If you regret that battleship tattoo that you got in the military, or you're a recovering addict who wants to get rid of needle track marks, the doctor is in.
Dr. Colin Berry, 48, a gynecologist-obstetrician with Blue Ridge OB/GYN in Front Royal, will remove certain tattoos and all needle tracks for addicts in treatment beginning July 21, with other sessions to follow.
Berry got into the tattoo and needle track removal business almost by default when he was practicing in Newport News prior to coming to the Northern Shenandoah Valley four years ago.
"I couldn't find anyone else to do it for [my patients]," he said at his office at 1077 N. Shenandoah Ave.
If the tattoo is drug-, gang- or hate-related, Berry will remove it for free.
"Any swastika's gotta be free," he said.
If it's a tattoo that falls into the "wrong name" category, he'll remove those for about half price, which amounts to about $250 to $300 a session.
"You cannot do it all in one day," he said. "It takes multiple treatments. The best-case scenario is a couple treatments, and sometimes the needle tracks work really well."
Removing tattoos with a laser beam can be a bit prickly, Berry said.
"This hurts," he said. "People describe it as the feeling of somebody snapping a rubber band against your skin. It just happens 10 times a second. It doesn't hurt as much as having a tattoo put on. It's over pretty quick."
The science of tattoo removal is evolving and in many cases, it's difficult to tell that a person had a tattoo, Berry said, referring to before and after photos in medical books.
"The goal is not to leave any scars," he said.
Berry also treats patients with drug addictions, which could lead to him getting his first tattoo.
"I promised one of my addicts that if she went 12 months clean -- she's a tattoo artist -- I would get a tattoo, and she's coming up on it," he said.
Berry doesn't know what design will grace his skin.
"I haven't decided yet," he said. "My children are in conference on it."
Having removed tattoos, Berry has some advice for tattoo professionals and those who seek their services.
"They should put two books in all tattoo parlors," he said. "They should put a copy of Modern Bride or whatever, so people can look at the wedding dress and see what shows in a wedding dress, and then the other book they should put in is some kind of surgical text so they know where at least the common incisions are, because trying to make an incision on someone's abdomen around the tattoo is just a losing proposition."
Removing tattoos and needle tracks and helping drug addicts is rewarding and a natural progression of his first priority, which is delivering healthy babies, Berry says.
"This fits right into that," he said. "Every single day, we've got a waiting room full of people who shot first and thought later. You can't undo a baby. You can undo a tattoo. Somebody decides to play with drugs and get sucked into that, you can help 'em undo that. That's sort of how it all kind of ties together."
To make an appointment for the sessions at his office beginning July 21, call 622-6007.
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