Travis Shaw MD

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Richmond is home to the third most tattooed population in the U.S.

Despite this fact, Dr. Travis Shaw claimed his laser removal business was at a stand still and he was barely breaking even. My team was asked to

determine a course of action that would reinvigorate the service.


In order to determine the best course of action and identify any opportunities, my team wanted to understand three specific things.

1. Motivations for getting inked

2. When removal becomes considered

3. Alternatives / Barriers to removal


Reasons for getting inked are as diverse as the individuals themselves. For certain respondents, it was done to feel in control. Others were motivated by friends, love of a design or as a way to cope with loss. 

I wasn't in a very good place.

At the time, getting a tattoo was one

of the only things I could control.

"Anytime, Anywhere, Call me” was what my dad wrote in my guest book on my wedding day. The tattoo is of his handwriting - It’s a reminder, especially when I’m struggling, that he was here for me, no matter what. And that’s been really important for my healing.

I got a rubber duck because me and a friend wanted to get tattoos together and thought it was funny. 6 years later it's still funny to me.


Each person we spoke with was motivated by good intentions. However, there is always a lingering

risk of regret. But when does distaste develop?

When does one truly regret a tattoo enough to have it removed?


My team hypothesized that removal would become a consideration for the majority of adults only after encountering a major life event such as getting a new job or having a child.

- Ines, YouTuber


"I regret one of my tattoos. I want to get rid of it so badly. I go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it."

- Anonymous Interviewee

"It's a struggle."

- Katrin Berndt in reference to regretting tattoos


"It wasn't necessarily that I didn't want a tattoo anymore.

It was that I didn't know why I had that particular tattoo."

- Travis Mawyer, Laser Removal Recipient

"There is one tattoo that I don't like at all. I've outgrown it.

But for now I am just living with it."

- Reddit User





1. Few cited lifestyle change as the reason they wanted tattoos removed.

2. Simply a change in taste can bring about removal considerations.

3. Removal isn't necessarily exclusive to those who regret all their tattoos. 

    Some wish they could better utilize the skin, but do not hate/regret their tattoos.


There is a difference between

tattoo regret and tattoo dislike.



Anyone dissatisfied with a tattoo has no shortage of options to "deal" with said tattoo. 

These options include

1. Thick make-ups such as Dermablend

2. Cover-up tattoos

3. Clothing to hide the unwanted art


Each "solution" however is a temporary or cheaper solution to the best one which is laser removal. Even if the canvas wants to have another tattoo in the same area, it will not be apply as well with out removing the existing ink first.


of survey respondents cited

cost over pain as the #1 barrier to

getting their tattoo removed.


There are those who have a pure hatred for their tattoo. They need little convincing and face a shorter turn around from application to removal. That is why our target is, instead, the complacent canvas. For them, booking that removal  appointment is pushed to the bottom of their to-do list. Price a bigger factor in the decision than pain. They have priorities, and laser removal falls behind them. Their thoughts of removal come in waves.

Tattoo insurance

Our tattoo insurance, more descriptively, skin insurance, is service we developed that will be provided in collaboration with Dr. Travis Shaw's practice and tattoo shops in Richmond.


"The beauty not only lies in elimination of something unwanted, but in the crucial preparation for the art that will replace it." - Carmen Vanderheiden, medical medical aesthetician

Patient intake was slow.



Dr. Travis Shaw's business had slowed.

Board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Travis Shaw was concerned when he discovered that he was breaking even with his tattoo removal service.

My team was to determine why and provide a course of action.


There is a difference between tattoo regret and tattoo dislike.

For those who regret their ink, it is on their mind constantly. When they look at it, their stomach churns. If they regret a tattoo the time between application and removal is much shorter. For those who dislike their ink, it bothers them but they don't think about it every day.


The Complacent Canvas.

These folks fall into the group who dislike their tattoos.They don't necessarily dislike other pieces of work on their bodies.

Because they don't hate the tattoo, other things take priority such as paying bills. However, they would ideally have the tattoo removed.


Tattoo Insurance.

The most significant barrier for anyone contemplating removal surprisingly isn't the pain, but the price. However, insuring a tattoo could enable a person to make monthly payments to Dr. Travis Shaw. In the event that they start to dislike their tattoo, they would have peace of mind knowing they can file a claim. This would also encourage follow through with initial application in tattoo shops. 


Your skin should never settle.

No one should have to live with a skin that is anything but optimal. Each person has a different view about what that is. Certain people dislike a whole tattoo, while others would like to better utilize that skin for another tattoo. In any case, you should never settle when it comes to your skin.



Rachel Cohen. Lareina Liu. Colin McCool.