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Divorce Could Result in Scarring

July 29, 2002|GREG MORAGO | HARTFORD COURANT

Note to Angelina Jolie: A diamond is forever, sweetie, not a marriage.

Recent news that Jolie and her husband, serial groom Billy Bob Thornton (who has been married five times), are headed for splitsville brought up the question of her tattoo. We're talking about the giant "Billy Bob" over a hissing dragon that takes up visible and important acreage on the Academy Award winner's left arm. What will she do with the tattoo if the couple does in fact divorce?

"I'm angry. I'm sad. It's a very difficult and sad time," Jolie was quoted as telling Us Weekly, which hit the stands just before her divorce papers did on July 18. "It was a real deep connection, a deep marriage, so it's not that simple to say this or that one thing caused the problems. It's clear to me that our priorities shifted overnight."

Jolie might be angrier and sadder if and when she begins researching tattoo-removal options. Unlike Johnny Depp's tattoo (when the actor broke off his engagement to Winona Ryder, he had his arm tattoo altered from "Winona Forever" to "Wino Forever"), altering the words "Billy Bob" won't be easy. If she's a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, she could pay a somewhat distorted tribute to hobbits by making it read Bil Bo. Perhaps it's best if she just gets rid of it altogether. Here are Jolie's options:

* Lasers: Lasers have become the standard treatment for tattoo removal. The removal is accomplished by lasers that vaporize the pigment colors with high-intensity light beams. The ink particles are broken up into tiny fragments that are absorbed through the body's natural cleansing mechanism. Black tattoos are the easiest to remove because black pigment absorbs all laser wavelengths. Other colors, such as green, selectively absorb laser light. One or more treatments might be needed, depending on the size, number and depth of the tattoos.

* Dermabrasion and chemical peel: A small portion of the tattoo is sprayed with a solution that freezes the area. The tattoo is then "sanded" with a rotary abrasive instrument, causing the skin to peel. Bleeding is likely to result. Scarring might occur. Chemical peels, a popular procedure for removing wrinkles, also might work on some tattoos. The process involves the application of a chemical solution that removes the top layers of skin.

* Excision: This is the most invasive procedure but is an option for the removal of a small tattoo. Excision is just that. The tattoo is removed surgically, and the edges of the skin are then brought together and sutured. The advantage of this method is that the entire tattoo can be removed. In some cases involving large tattoos, a skin graft taken from another part of the body might be necessary. Scarring might occur.

If this all sounds a tad too grisly, don't worry a bit for our "Girl, Interrupted," who doesn't flinch at plasma. Now about those blood-filled pendants....

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