In the late 1980s, Deborah Freehling, MD, a facial plastic surgeon in Northern California, had just finished her residency. The hospital was no longer her second home. Suddenly, she was in an 8:30 to 5:30 job. She had time to spare a foreign concept.
Explore this issue:February 2015
On her time off, she started volunteering for the Redwood City Police Department, removing tattoos from former gang members to ease their transition back into mainstream society and boost their chances of finding jobs. She developed an affection for people—especially young people—who wanted a clean slate, a do-over for a decision they now regretted.
Incorporating tattoo removal into her otolaryngology practice would seem to have made sense, but that didn’t happen right away. “Back then, the lasers were just awful; they were CO2 lasers, extremely painful. They burned the skin; they scarred the skin,” she said. She was equally unimpressed by subsequent lasers.