Tattoo (And Hopefully Depression) Removal Begins - Bangkok, Thailand

I just went for my first laser tattoo removal...

I just went for my first laser tattoo removal treatment, and thought I should start to share my experience as i'd read a couple of others' experiences on realself and was really heartened by all the encouraging comments going around (less so by the i-told-you-so trolls).

MY STORY
i don't feel so ready to go into detail about why i got a tattoo and what it was supposed to be and all, after so much feeling depressed over it and obsessing over it, some times i'm not even sure anymore, and i can't believe i've done all this to myself. so long story short, i got a tattoo done and the guy did a horrible job, what was supposed to be symmetrical wasn't, and in one spot he actually coloured out of line! so.. i decided to get it covered up, but had another bad experience where the artist started doing his own stuff without consulting me, and it started to look horrible so i decided not to continue with it. both times a had a recommendation from a friend, and had looked at the artist's book, and all looked good. so i don't know, guess i got myself into this with bad decisions and bad luck, and now i just have to deal with it.. and yeah, i've attached some pictures and i think they speak for themselves.. the tattoo is BIG, going from my upper thigh to above my pelvic bone..

it's been tough times, i'm a grad student, currently living alone in a fairly remote part of thailand for research and don't really have anyone to talk to. my parents don't know about it, and i hope they never have to know because i know they'll worry, and i already feel bad enough about what i've done to myself. thankfully, my boyfriend has been nothing but supportive of me even in our long distance relationship, and that has really helped to keep me going. i think the worst of my depression is over, and i've been trying to keep my self-esteem up by exercising lots (i figure if an ugly tattoo that's on its way out is the ugliest thing about my body it'll be much better than totally letting myself go). i'm still pretty conscious of it though, and i used to be a really shorts-wearing kind of girl, but have since bought lots of jeans and dresses to keep it covered.. i'm still far from happy, but i'm hoping that i'll feel better about things when i start to see results from treatment. i'm aware that the artist that did the cover up pumped in lots and lots of ink, and also that colours are hard to remove, so i'm prepared for it to never fade totally, but my end goal is to have it fade enough so that I can get something done over it, by a way more carefully selected artist this time.. it's all still so surreal, i can't believe i'm putting myself through all of this. always thought of myself as pretty steady, but i guess not! this whole thing has really made me question my self-worth and ability to make good decisions.. ahh.

before i get too upset again.. i went for my first laser removal treatment today and i'll talk about it below..

day 1 after first treatment

i just took of the bandages from my first treatment and here are pictures.. i can see a fair bit of blistering and some bleeding on the black areas where the ink was really thick. im worried though because the blue and greens don't look like they reacted with the laser at all ):

first treatment (sorry for the poor order!)

i realised, being a noob that i am, that i've talked about my first treatment session in the section where i'm supposed to review my practioner :/ so i'm retyping it here, and sorry that it comes after my update for post-treatment day 1.

my doctor used a combination of Nd Yag, Ruby, and Alexandrite lasers on my tattoo because there are so many different colours. for the first treatment she set the power of the laser to 0.9 for the 532mm NdYag, 3.6 for the 1064mm NdYag, 5.5 fo the Ruby, and 5 for the Alexandrite, with a spot size of 4 for all except the Alex which was set at 3. this was after a few test shots where she found that my skin burst and bled easily, so she had to lower the power as she said there would be a higher risk of scarring if a higher power was used. i think this is because the ink is so dense in some areas that a lot of laser is absorbed? anyone know anything about power and spot sizes?

she was very nice throughout the procedure and constantly checked in with me to see if i was feeling okay.. she had applied a numb cream before the treatment, and i cant imagine how painful it would have been without! lidocaine injections were available but i didn't want to use it because the doctor told me it might affect how well the treatment works. haha for some reason i dealt with the pain by pinching myself..as if pain in another place will distract from the pain from the laser. there was a fair bit of bleeding during the treatment, and before they wrapped it up i could see that blisters had begun to form over the tattoo.

i was given Fucidin to apply to prevent infection, and a scar cream to start using after the scabs have fallen off to prevent scarring.. right now it feels like i'm holding a bowl of hot soup on my leg, but with more stinging. i had to travel 4 hours by bus from the hospital to get back to where i live so that was terrible but i made it.. so nervous about whether its going to work..and when i'll start to see results.. i'm probably gonna have a minor breakdown if i don't see results after the first session so please encourage me!

day 2 after first treatment

most of the bleeding has stopped but the blisters that i have look like they've been filled with blood. its pretty gross! the itching is starting and i'm trying my best to ignore it. does anyone know what the deal with blisters is? i've heard some people say blisters are good cos it shows the laser reacted with the ink, some say blisters are a side effect that the doctors try to avoid. some parts of mine have blistered and some have not which makes me worry that the laser is not being effective on some colours of the tattoo :/

emotionally i'm starting to feel bummed again, the whole tattoo looking so gross after treatment just reminds me so much that i did something so horrible, and its made worse by not being able to go work out and shake off the negative feelings cos the tattoo is over my upper thigh and hip area and i think i shouldn't be moving it too much.

day 3 after first treatment

today the wound seems to hurt more when i move. i think it's because some of the blisters have burst and made crusty scabs and these tear when i move my leg. it's also more painful when i touch it to apply the ointment that the doc gave me, not sure why this is. tomorrow i will have to start work again, and i work outdoors where the sun here is blazing hot. i'm apprehensive about that but really have no choice.

today is Mother's Day, which brought on lots of feelings I wasn't prepared for. i sent my mum a happy mother's day text, but at the same time felt like a hypocrite because i know that she will be so disappointed in me for what i've done to myself, worried about the treatments, and upset that i am spending soooo much money on this ( i can't believe how much it's going to cost me in the end). i really miss my family, but at the same time i'm dreading going back home where i still live with my parents (as most people in my country do until marriage), because i don't know how i'm going to keep hiding this from them, but also can't deal with them finding out. i guess this is the part that emotionally is most difficult for me. it's hard to not care about what your family thinks, even if you can deal with most of the world judging..

treatment 1, day 4

i decided to get back to outdoor fieldwork today (i study monkeys. weird, i know!). i would love to wait longer before working again, but i just can't, or i won't have enough data for my dissertation. turned out i went out for nothing cos my head wasn't in the right place and i accidentally deleted all my data off my recorder ARGH.

anyway, i had placed a light gauze dressing over the wound site to protect it, but i think i still caused some blisters to pop as there was a fair bit of fluid on the dressing when i took it off :/ how bad is it to pop blisters? i must say i can't wait for these blisters to go away, they look and feel disgusting. and i'm not squeamish but touching them when i apply the ointment everyday feels ugh.

treatment 1, day 5

the wound felt better today, it was definitely less painful and raw when i was applying the lotion onto it, and the blisters seem flatter (partly due to me accidentally pressing on and popping some while working :/). so i'd say the worst days in terms of pain are days 2-4. i can feel the itching is about to start for real though! it's taking a lot to curb the itch to scratch!

i have a question about aftercare creams. my doctor gave me Fucidin which is an antibiotic ointment, but i read an article earlier today where a doctor recommended NOT to use antibiotics, and to just use petroleum jelly instead. what does everyones doctor prescribe?

not too much beef and eggs!

just remembered that my doctor told me that if you're really afraid of forming keloid scarring, avoid eating too much beef and eggs, because of their high protein content. forgot to ask why beef and eggs specifically out of all the high protein foods but yea, just sharing. i'm vegetarian so no beef anyway, but i do love eggs ): i guess in moderation would be okay

T1 first week

it's been a week since my first treatment (that went quick). the doctor told me that scabs should fall off between a week to 10 days, but i don't think mine will so soon.. i tend to be a slow healer so not totally surprised..
anyway, doing well, resumed some light exercise but nothing that will stretch and move my quads too much since the wound is on my thigh.
itchy itchy itchy!

opinions?

hmm.. i found another laser place in bangkok. this one carried the medlite c6 machine for the Yag, which i hear is a great laser. my current place uses a Won Cosjet which seems more obscure, but i go there because they also have a Candela Alexandrite laser which i need for my greens. Wondering if i should get treated at two different places?

~3weeks post T1

so i'm finally almost healed and can see the tattoo without any scabs covering what it's really like.

so far, i see a tiny bit of fading, definitely not as much as i'd like after seeing the amazing results some others have gotten. maybe the ink is just too dense..

i see some breakup in the black where it is just single line, but the solid black areas are as solid as ever.. also the colours don't seem to be going anywhere (the fading in the green is mostly from when my tattoo stuck to my clothes while healing and ink got pulled out).. this upsets me a fair bit but trying not to get too down..

my skin also seems bumpy over the solid black areas, and i'm really worried that this will be the start of horrible raised scarring.. going to try and get some silicone scar sheets over them, but can probably only get them next month when my boyfriend visits and helps me bring some over..

T1w5

5 weeks after my first treatment. im starting to get down and obsessive again because i'm just not seeing much change as the weeks go by. in this part of the tattoo there is minimal fading, only some in the lines and nothing in the solid areas. i havent posted pictures of the other coloured areas cos there have been absolutely no changes there. i dont know what it is as i've been eating well, exercising daily, taking vitamins and a beta-glucan immune supplement, but still such poor results. i'm starting to wonder if theres something wrong with my body, or if the tattoo was done on such a fleshy part of my body that its just not close enough to the blood supply, and if it is these problems then this thing will never go away. my skin is also still bumpy and i am almost certain this is scarring.

treatment 2

just did my second treatment earlier today. it was more painful than the first! my doctor stopped many times to ask if i would like a lidocaine injection, but i tried my best to avoid it because i'd read that it might increase scarring risk and interact with the ink making it harder to fade. anyway, made it through with much internal screaming.

this time we used an alexandrite laser on the green, instead of a ruby laser like in the first treatment. my doctor said she used a ruby laser at first because from her experience, most patients had better fading with the ruby than alex for green. mine hardly faded from the first session though, so i asked to try the alex and she said my green ink appeared to react well with it. we also used alex instead of ndyag for the purples this time. fingers crossed!

i bled alot during treatment, and the bandages they put on soaked through within an hour. i'm supposed to keep it on for 24 hours though :/ maybe tomorrow when i take them off i'll post a picture to show the amount of blood, but i promise it will be the grossest thing you will see for the day.

tomorrow i make the long 4 hour bus ride back to my fieldsite...

hope you haven't eaten too much

so here is my horrible bloody mess of a post-treatment tattoo! i can see that some of the blisters are gonna be bigger than after the first session. has anyone had a tattoo look so horrible after lasering? according to my doctor, the power used was already pretty low, but my skin bursts easily, and the black ink is really dense so it reacts strongly with the laser.

might be moving

so i'm thinking of deleting this review and account and starting a new one, because i feel like the amount of detail i've revealed about myself makes me not as anonymous as i would like to be, and people searching for stuff who know me would be able to figure out that this is me.

anyway, just wanted to give everyone a heads up for a few days in case i decide to go through with the move.

~3weeks post T2

so ive decided to keep posting in this review because realself won't let me delete it even if i start a new one anyway. doing things i can't erase is becoming a recurring theme here.

anyway, almost 3 weeks after treatment 2, and my fully objective self has some positive updates, although the emotional part of me is still frustrated at how slow this whole process is. sorry for the shitty pictures too, i'm finding it almost impossible to photograph because of the tattoo location and the lighting in the house.

so positive update 1: my skin was much less bumpy after the scabs came off than it was after the first treatment scabbed off. this is very comforting to me because i was getting really worried that my skin would just scar more and more. so maybe the first time was just the skin getting used to the laser, and it isnt going to get progressively worse. phew. i might have also cared for it differently this time because after the first treatment i tried to keep it dry and "let it breathe" but after reading about scar prevention i learnt that that is a bunch of bull and you should keep a wound moist and allow for moist healing so i pretty much kept it slathered with petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment the whole time until the scabs fell off. seems to be the way!

positive update 2: there's definitely been more fading since the first treatment, and i am starting to see some breakup in parts of the solid black, and some of the covered up tattoo starting to show through (this is probably not visible in the shitty pictures). i have little patches of brown ink in my tatt that got darker after the first treatment, but the brown areas are smaller now so its fading.

bad news: blue, green, and purple are still looking fairly unchanged after being treated with alexandrite. again, the fading in the dark green is not due to the laser, my clothes stuck to the tattoo after it was done and pulled out some ink.. i wish i had done that to the whole thing!

alright, cheers everyone, before i upset myself too much!

how much fading in weeks after?

haha i'm not sure if anyone still reads this as i didn't get any responses to my last update about my second treatment, but i have a question and i hope someone will come talk to me!

I always read, and people always say that you should wait longer between treatments to allow for more fading, but I find that fading is most noticeable to me when the scabs come off, as i can see a difference from what it was before. However, in the weeks following that I see no change whatsoever like there isn't any continued fading. What has everyone else's experience been?

treatment 3 + 50 lidocaine shots!!

Hi guys, I just had my 3rd treatment yesterday about 11 weeks after my second treatment. A different doctor worked on me this time as my usual doctor was not available on the only date that I could travel for treatment. I'll post pictures soon, but for now I just want to talk about the experience and about the differences I've noticed from the first two treatments experience wise (can't tell results yet).

#1 LIDOCAINE SHOTS
this time i opted for lidocaine injections because my previous treatment was almost unbearably painful! turns out getting lidocained is quite the experience in itself. i was under the impression that it would be a single injection, or maybe just a few but i received 50!!!! injections all over the tattoo area. each shot was quite painful, so it felt like i was receiving a first pass of the laser. the doctor then started lasering the black almost immediately after all the shots were administered, and it still hurt! but maybe this was because it hadn't fully kicked in yet, because when the other parts of the tattoo were being lasered later on, i could hardly feel it. i think i will probably opt for lidocaine again, and request that the doctor wait a bit before starting the laser.

#2 LESS BLEEDING AND BLISTERING
compared to my first two treatments, this time there was much less bleeding. usually my blood soaks through the dressing within a couple hours after treatment, but this time after 24 hours the bandage still looks fairly white. upon removing the dressing, there is also a fair bit less blistering, still a couple of big ones, but nothing compared to what i usually get. also, on day 2 i don't feel any pain, usually i'm in severe discomfort for about 4 days after the treatment.

this was strange to me because the doctor said she had turned up the power of the laser since this is my 3rd treatment, so i expected there would be more bleeding and blistering. so i'm not sure if the difference this time is due to the ink being less dense than before, or that this doctor is more skilled at working the laser.

i'm not sure (and slightly worried) about what this means for how effective the treatment was because i've heard both that blistering is good and shows that the laser has reacted, and that blistering is a bad side effect that should be avoided. i did sneak a few peeks at the tattoo before it got dressed up and i did see frosting, so i think the laser did react with the ink still. so now we wait... i really hope to be able to see more results this time as i'm not sure when i can next receive treatment. i will be heading back to my home country at the end of the year, and i don't know how i can get a treatment without my parents noticing so i might have to wait till they go on vacation or till i go on vacation somewhere there is laser :/ i know some of you guys think i should share with my parents but we're not like that, and i'm definitely not ready.
Dr Tippaporn

doctor was nice, patiently answered all my questions, and constantly checked in with me to see if i was okay.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
3 out of 5 stars Wait times
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