Aesthetician Susan Melching built her career by offering permanent makeup—micro-tattoos designed to alter the look of eyebrows, lips, scars, and even areolas after nipple reconstruction—at her Boulder skincare clinic since 1989. Many clients came in looking to improve the shoddy work they’d had done previously, but there was only so much Melching could do to cover up the mistakes.
Now, Melching has partnered with her sister Nina Smith, a certified laser technician, to expand their focus. At Youbaby Skin Spa in Lafayette, not only do the sisters offer permanent makeup and skin treatments, but they’ve also added tattoo-removal services. “My whole focus in my practice has been to help people feel better about themselves by correcting a problem that has been bothering them physically, and in doing so, that really helps them emotionally as well,” Melching says. “This is just another progression of the types of services that we offer.”
Inked Magazine named Denver the top tattooed city in America last year. And for good reason: More than 100 tattoo shops call the metro area home. Of course, with more tattoos comes the need for more tattoo removals. (Pro tip: Dolphin ink is rarely a good idea.)
Melching and Smith chose their Lafayette location after doing some research and discovering that 67 percent of those who get tattoos removed are women in their 30s with kids—many of whom live in nearby suburbs like Louisville, Longmont, and Erie. That demographic is also more likely to be able to afford the starting price of $1,500 (although interest-free payment plans are available).
The high cost stems from the complexity of the procedure, known as Pico Genesis. Smith likens tattoo ink to boulders, which a laser gradually breaks up into rocks and then little pebbles, using different frequencies and wavelengths. This allows the lymphatic system to slowly absorb and expel the ink particles. Previous techniques couldn’t erase all colors, and it took 10 to 20 treatments over a period of several years—with side effects such as scarring and burning—to get rid of what could be removed. Pico Genesis, in contrast, takes four to six sessions and leaves no traces of the tattoo by the end of the process. (It is slightly painful, but ice numbs the sensation fairly quickly.) Melching says these less invasive lasers are the wave of the future, but right now, Youbaby has just the fifth Pico Genesis machine in Colorado.
The two sisters look forward to working with people who have been abusively tattooed and those with ink related to former gang activity, as well as anyone seeking to shed painful memories. For instance, they recently met a man who had the footprints of his newborn twin daughters tattooed on his chest, along with their names and birthdates. The babies had died at birth. Almost a decade has passed since then, and now he wants to move on. “It’s like they’re this barrier to his life,” Melching says. “Gosh, how can you not want to help somebody like that?”