“I was 15 when I first got involved with my neighborhood gang. At 17, I got my gang’s name on my stomach, and by 18 I had 5 tattoos (on my hands and neck) identifying me as a member of the gang. I had my problems with the law from a young age but it was not until I was in my 30s that I was sentenced to 27 years to life in State prison. While in prison, I got 20 more tattoos to represent my gang affiliation as well as my lifestyle. These tattoos were the cause of many fights and misunderstandings.
As a result of these fights and misunderstandings, I helped create “Criminals and Gangmembers Anonymous” in 1996 to help cope with this lifestyle addiction. After serving 30+ years in prison, I was released into the custody of Sister Mary Shawn Hodges of the Archdiocese due to my desire to help others positively reintegrate into society. I knew removing gang/prison tattoos was a critical component in doing so. My daughter called me “dumb” for having tattooed my neighborhood on my stomach and was embarrassed by me. Her teachers and the other parents were fearful and judgmental. Women were scared and hesitant to approach me while some men acted in fear. As the house manager in one of the re-entry homes, I met the Executive Director of Sunrise and we made an arrangement to remove the ex-lifers tattoos for free. I have since removed 3 of my visible tattoos and am in the process of removing 5 more. I have noticed a change in how people talk to me and seeing the tattoos no longer there helps me to further leave my past destructive lifestyle behind. I now feel accepted and not judged.
Coming to Sunrise has given me the opportunity to create a new network of friends and colleagues and volunteering has given me the power to reach out to the troubled youth that are heading down the same path as I did. I hope to help young men make better choices for themselves than ending up in gangs or prison”
“I grew up in the Westlake [Rampart] area of Los Angeles. When I was 13 my homeboy gave me my first tattoo. At 14, I was jumped into a gang in my neighborhood. I started getting tattoos to honor my gang and establish my status in my hood - these included tattoos on my face and neck. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. By the time I was 25, I was locked up for two and a half years while fighting a case. I had an eight-year-old daughter at the time. My older brother was serving 50 to life and I did not want to end up like him and miss out on being a father to my daughter. I managed to win my case and was released. I knew at that moment that I had to change my life so I moved my family away from the Westlake area. I started working as a day laborer but wanted a more secure job. I realized that my tattoos were not letting me get the jobs I wanted. I knew I had to remove the tattoos on my face and neck in order for an employer to take me seriously and hire me. I was referred to Sunrise by Homies Unidos. Through the services of Sunrise, I have removed 5 tattoos and I’m finishing the removal of my 6th and final tattoo. During the removal process I have noticed a change in how people look at me as well as interact with me. I gained a newfound confidence in my place in society and took the risk of starting my own small business which has been successful. I am now married with five kids and feel both relieved and grateful for having a second chance in life”
Is it painful to remove a tattoo?
Think of a rubber band snapping at your skin. For some, it is a minor annoyance and doesn't really bother them. For others, it might feel the same as getting the tattoo.
How will my skin appear after each treatment?
The Quanta Evo Q-Plus C is one of the most advanced laser systems currently on the market and we have had excellent results with it. After the first couple of treatments, the ink will begin to disappear in spots. With each treatment, the ink will continue to fade, leaving the rest of your skin as before until eventually the removal is complete.
How often and how long between treatments?
The treatment itself is over in a matter of minutes. After the first treatment, the patient generally will wait 4-6 weeks before returning for their next visit.
How long until my tattoo is completely removed?
Because every person and tattoo is unique, a prediction is difficult. Typically between 6-10 sessions are required, but this number may vary depending on the amount and depth of ink.