Thanks to WomenShelter of Long Beach and Laser Skin Care Center, a Long Beach woman is erasing the scars of her past.
A victim of domestic violence, Regina enrolled in a support program at WomenShelter. With the information she learned in her classes, Regina and her children were eventually able to get away from her abuser. (Note: Because Regina is a victim, we are only using her first name.)
“The shelter was wonderful,” Regina said. “They gave me the tools necessary to leave the relationship.”
In addition, Regina learned that women from the shelter are eligible for cost-free skin treatment from Laser Skin Care Center (LSCC), a cosmetic and medical dermatology facility in northeast Long Beach. For the past two years, LSCC has partnered with WomenShelter to provide full body scans and tattoo removal. Regina, who has tattoos on the front and back of her neck, asked her advocate to contact LSCC on her behalf.
“I wanted to remove mistakes from my past, the memories of a tough stage in life,” Regina said. “It was a great opportunity for someone of lower income, like me.”
Regina began the tattoo removal process in July 2019. Removal work is done slowly and incrementally, with a special laser to avoid scarring the skin. After the area has been numbed, laser treatment generally takes about 10-20 minutes. Following each visit, four to six weeks of healing time is required. Regina has already completed six removal sessions; several more appointments will be needed to erase the pigmentation from her skin.
“Tattoo removal is a complex process because it only takes minutes to a few days to get the tattoo, but it will take months to remove one,” said Regina’s primary LSCC provider, Veronica Chang, PA-C.
Neck tattoos have high visibility and Regina said this has limited her professional options.
“They are definitely a big factor in employment,” she said. “People always say things like ‘you’re too pretty to be tattooed like that.’”
Regina said she is grateful to receive care that she could not have afforded on her own. At $250 per session, six visits would have totaled $1,500. And, according to Chang, four more appointments are probably needed to complete the process; these will bring the cumulative cost to $2,500. Even though Regina is not being charged for the work, she said the service at LSCC has been outstanding.
“They are very compassionate and very professional,” Regina said. “They have always treated me like a paying customer.”
Regina said she has big hopes for the future. As she changes her outward appearance, she is pushing herself in new directions. She currently serves as a committee member at her daughter’s preschool and she hopes to open her own baking business soon.
She said family and friends often request her cookies, brownies and cakes for birthdays and special occasions. She enjoys making simple desserts, but she wants to do even more in the future. Her goal is to open “GG’s Bakery” with a variety of upscale options.
“I want to do pastries and fancy desserts, things that are plated really pretty,” she said.