At least 18 women who wanted to have their tattoos removed are now scarred for life, after their skin was badly burned during the removal process.
"I don’t wish this on anyone," said Magalie Courtemanche, who wanted to have a tattoo removed but instead ended up with something just as visible — a large scar on her forearm.
Courtemanche went to Bye Bye Tattoo in St-Eustache, about 40 kilometres north of Montreal. Bye Bye Tattoo’s owner, Carmen Tassé, advertised that her method left no scarring.
"She said, ‘You'll see, your skin will be like a baby's. It will come back really nice, there's nothing to worry about,’" Courtemanche said.
Radio-Canada obtained photographs and statements from 18 Bye Bye Tattoo clients. All had suffered second-degree burns and will be scarred for life.
One customer paid more than $11,000 for her tattoo-removal procedure, but was left with a big scar.
Another customer, Krystel Bonenfant, was also scarred when she got a tattoo of a cross on her back removed.
"They told me the treatment was painless and left no scar," Bonenfant said.
That's also what was said in Bye Bye Tattoo`s television ads.
"Bye Bye Tattoo will make your tattoos disappear without pain or scars, thanks to its revolutionary laser-free technology."
Carmen Tassé, who showed Radio-Canada one of the methods used at Bye Bye Tattoo, said her products lift the ink out of the skin.
"It works really well. We've done this for four years and always had good results," Tassé said, adding that her customers were aware there was a risk of scarring.
But she admitted her advertising went too far.
"We will take out the ‘no scarring.’ There is chance of scarring with all treatments."
Health-care professionals concerned
The Quebec College of Physicians is looking into Bye Bye Tattoo, and so is the Public Health Department.
"You should be very careful when choosing what technique is used to do this, and always see an accredited professional," said Dr. Charles Bernard, President-Director General of the Quebec College of Physicians.
Through her lawyers, Carmen Tassé maintains some of her customers did not follow the full treatment program.
Tassé also questions whether they followed the proper instructions after treatment, adding that the cases Radio-Canada highlighted are isolated incidents.