Odd Jobs: Laser technician - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Odd Jobs: Laser technician

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It's an Odd Job helping people get rid of tattoos and toenail fungus.

Amy Garland is hoping to erase one bad decision.

"Kind of draws more attention than I'd like it to," Garland said.

Five months after getting a bear constellation inked on her ankle, she wants it gone.

"I just decided I don't like it anymore. I'm over it. I change my mind too often," Garland said.

The 20-year-old turned to Calvin Gilbert for help.

"I don't want to remove any of my tattoos, but I completely understand why other people do," Gilbert said.

He's a registered nurse and laser technician at Vermont Laser Services. Gilbert is studying to be a nurse practitioner, but in the meantime he wanted a part-time job in the medical field.

"I thought I'd give it a try and it's the best job that I've ever had. It's just so fun," Gilbert said.

The South Burlington business sees 150 patients a month just like Garland. Gilbert's laser produces short pulses of light energy directed at the deepest layer of the skin targeting the tattoo.

Calvin Gilbert: How's that feel?

Amy Garland: It's fine.

The average patient will need 5-10 treatments before their tattoos completely fade.

"The first couple of seconds are the worst. It's sort of almost a shock and it almost feels like a rubber band snapping," Allyson Basha said.

She's removing a trio of tattoos she got as a teenager. She's shelling out $150 per session to make them disappear.

"No decision should be made when you're 17," said Allyson.

"It's really exciting for us when we see the tattoo fade away," said Don Baker, owner of Laser Tattoo Removal. "I had been in the insurance business for 18 years and it just wasn't pushing my creative buttons. I'm more of a free spirit entrepreneurially."

Baker took a leap of faith 22 months ago and bought the company.

"We're dealing with a class 4 laser and the human anatomy. So, there's really no room for error," said Baker.

That's why Baker only hires medical professionals, like Gilbert, to perform the procedures that can eradicate more than just ink.

"Fifty percent of the American public over the age 50 suffers from some form of onychomycosis," said Baker.

That's a fancy word for toenail fungus. The condition is contagious and can last for years.

"It is everyone's little dirty secret," said Baker.

Onychomycosis is caused from toe trauma, especially in athletes. Others pick it up from locker rooms or compromised immune systems.

Briant Hamrell can't remember a time his toes didn't look like this.

"As far as I know I've had it for 20, 25, 30 years," said Hamrell.

Gilbert will zap each toe a quarter inch above the cuticle where the nail root starts.

"That snapping that you're hearing is actually the fungus being destroyed," said Baker.

When the process is done, Hamrell's toes will be sanitized and 120 days later his nails will clear up. This procedure now accounts for 50 percent of the practice.

"It's nice to be at a job where people are choosing to come here and get treatments verses a hospital setting or a nursing home or prison," said Gilbert.

"I'm happy to join the club of pretty," said Hamrell.

It's an odd job using technology to help Vermonters become a little less self-conscious one toe and one tattoo at a time.

Laser technicians earn $28 to $40 an hour.

If you have an odd job or know someone who does send an email to news@wcax.com.

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