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Hi all, My name is Chad, and I'm a 22-year-old...

Hi all,

My name is Chad, and I'm a 22-year-old from Cardiff, Wales, UK.

I've been going through laser tattoo removal for almost a year now, and I've gotten a lot of comfort from following your stories on here. In return, I now feel it's time to share my own story.

I have two tattoos; one is my daughter's name, Lexie, and the other is a horrendous star tattoo that goes up my right arm. I got these tattoos within two months of each other at the end of 2011.

After having my daughter's name tattooed on me, which I loved, I rushed into getting another tattoo. This time, it was five star outlines that got bigger as you went up my arm. Looking at the photo, I cannot believe how disgusting it actually was, and I can't understand why I wanted something so terrible in the first place (but we all say that of course.) When I got married a few months later and saw photos of myself topless on my honeymoon, it was then I realised how bad the tattoo actually was. It was time to get rid of it!

I contacted a nearby laser clinic who quoted me £65 per session with their Q-switched YAG laser (is that right?). So, since last October I've been going there every 6 weeks. At first, I saw a real difference, but after the third session or so the results became very poor and There was very little difference, even for a black tattoo which supposedly responds best. On one occasion, I even asked them to turn up the 'oomph' as I just wasn't satisfied with the results. The two women who operated the laser seemed to rush and would always chat about other things that were totally irrelevant. Additionally, the laser clinic was actually part of a dentist, so I don't think laser was their speciality. Altogether I had 7 sessions at this clinic.

A few weeks later my wife very honestly told me that she thought I was being ripped off as nothing was happening after each treatment. I agreed straight away. After that, I contacted some other clinics and came across a very reputable one which had been open since 1988 (as opposed to a year or so at the other place!!). I went for a consultation and was quoted £80 per treatment to remove the stars, a little more than I was paying before. Each treatment was 4 weeks apart.

I was REALLY excited about this place - their laser, the Harmony XLI, is the only one here in Wales, and has won the gold aesthetic award for the last three years. Great!

So, I turned up for my first appointment recently and they were so much more professional and friendly compared to the other place. I even got a free cuppa! The faded photo above was how my tattoo looked just before my first treatment here. Unfortunately I haven't been taking photos after each treatment, but I will from now on.

There were even more surprises about this place; turns out, the other clinic were doing almost everything wrong. Firstly, my session at this new clinic was around 20 minutes long, compared to five minutes. Secondly, they would sometimes change the attachment on the end of the laser if they didn't think the light was penetrating enough which I thought was really good. And thirdly, they put a bandage on me (which I'd never had before), and when I asked for the aloe Vera gel they were horrified to hear that I'd been using that stuff. Apparently the tattoo must stay DRY. Yeah, this was a real eye opener.

At the end of the session I also mentioned - and bare with me here - that I want the tattoo of my daughter's name removed too. I know, I know. I can picture your face. It's not because we hate each other or anything, she's only 2-years-old! Basically, the tattoo (photo attached) takes up half my forearm and, well, we recently found out we're having another baby girl, due in January! Of course, I'd have to be fair to the other baby and have her name tattooed on my other arm. BUT, I really don't want that - two bulky black tattoos on each of my arms.

Instead, I've promised my daughter (and wife) that I'll get a much smaller, more sensible tattoo on the inside of my left bicep. That way, it's small and hidden away all the time.

The clinic was kind enough to do a test patch on this tattoo and I was amazed to see the ink completely disappear (photo attached).That's one impressive laser! I can't afford to have treatment on both tattoos at the same time, so I'll definitely be removing this after my stars are gone. I think it will be a much more positive journey that time, as it's not a tattoo I'm ashamed and embarrassed of. Very much excited to start treatment on it!

Apologies for the very lengthy story, but it's so reassuring to read all your stories on here and see frequent updates. I promise to do the same! You guys are all so supportive of each other. Here's to complete removal!

Laser distance from tattoo?

Hi all, hope you're having a great week so far.

So I've been doing some research about the laser I am currently having treatment with (Harmony XL), and I've just stumbled across a video of it in use. In the video, the technician is practically pressing the laser against someone's arm and moving it slowly along.

In my treatments so far, I have always had the laser approx 2-3 cms from my arm.

I wondered if any of you have your laser pressed up against your tattoos and if you think this has any benefit? I'm going to ask my technician about it when I go for my next session in nine days (whose counting?)


9th session down

Hi all. Hope you're enjoying the weekend so far. It's raining and cold here so I'm staying inside in the warm today!

So I had my 9th session on Thursday. It wasn't much different to my last, but they seemed sure that the tattoo had faded since my previous session - which is good!

In my last post on here I mentioned that I had seen a video online where a technician is moving the laser along the skin (touching it), so I asked them about this. My technician was very honest; she said it's quite hard to explain, but when someone first starts tattoo removal, they will sometimes start with the laser on the skin. As the tattoo becomes lighter, it actually becomes more effective to move the laser away from the skin as it somehow picks it up better. She showed me what she meant by placing the laser right on my skin. The laser was really quiet and nothing was really happening. So, if your technician is placing the laser right against you and you're not seeing great results, then this may be why.

Oh and apologies to wilks - I promised I would also ask about the brownish colour but forgot! I will remember next time. Honest.

When I came out, I asked if they had heard of picosure and the R20 method. They hadn't heard of either before, so I showed them this website and pointed out a few reviews of people having picosure. Unsurprisingly, they were shocked at the price.

It seems I stirred a bit of a debate about the R20 method; some of them were horrified at the thought of having more than one session within an hour, where as others said they would actually be willing to try it. Turns out, they've contacted their laser company to see if this is something they could do. I would definitely be willing!

Anyway, I've attached some photos since the treatment. I've been told to keep the tattoo DRY for 48 hours so I'm unable to clean it yet, hence why it looks like it could do with a wash!

I'll post another photo when it's looking less red.

Hope you're all doing well with your removals.

We're getting there.. 10th session on Monday

Hi everyone. Not long til the weekend now! I'm going on a mini holiday this weekend so I thought now was the best time to update the ol' review.

So I've had two treatments with the Harmony XL now and I have my third on Monday (can't wait). All I can say is the results have been just as good as the seven I had with the laser before. I'm really impressed and I'm hoping that it goes (or nearly goes) within the next four sessions - I paid upfront for six.

The tattoo is looking very faded. It should start losing its star shape any time now hopefully! With my second daughter due in just over three months, I'm extremely keen to get started on removing my 'Lexie' tattoo. It's not going to be until after the baby is born, but I hope it's not too long after.

In a previous update, I said that I was considering having a tattoo of both my daughters' names on the inside of my left bicep. I've had a look at some designs and I think I've pretty much settled on one. It's sensible, hidden, small, and something I am confident I will never regret. I will probably end up having it done (if I do) while removing the 'Lexie' tattoo, so the aim then will be to remove the old tattoo so that only the new is left. That's the plan.

With the stars, some areas have now faded beautifully. I've attached some photos (sorry for the poor lighting), and on the second smallest star there is a small freckle that I forgot was even there - because of the ink obviously. The majority of my tattoo is now a light brown colour so if it isn't gone in the next few sessions, it will certainly be almost gone. It's a shame I had to go to such a bad clinic first, as it could be much more faded at this point.

I'll let you all know how the 10th session goes on Monday. Hope your removals are going just as well!

Session 10 done

Hi all. So I just had my 10th session (about an hour ago) and it went really well. It's looking incredibly faded now and I have real faith in the technicians who work there; they are lovely people and they really show an interest in getting this thing off me. For anyone who might be living in my area, the clinic is called Beauty Advance who are based in Whitchurch in Cardiff. They really 'big up' the Harmony XL on their website too.

So they did things slightly different this time. It's hard to tell from the photo, but a different attachment was used on the bottom star. She said it's worth giving it a go to see if it responds any better. I can't remember what the particular attachment was called, but it's apparently very effective at removing red. The bottom star has those white patches, just like you get after your first few treatments. Obviously there is no red ink on my tattoo but it never hurts to try something new.

I'm really hoping it loses its shape soon as it will be so much easier to cope with and I won't be so embarrassed about it. I've booked my next session for five weeks time as I rely on a bonus that I get from work every six months to pay for treatment. I don't want to be getting them too closely together.

Hope you're all feeling positive at the moment. Winter is just around the corner I'm sure your tattoos will all be covered with thick clothing for a while. :)

Bottom star is looking red

It's been five days since my 10th session now. The top four stars are continuing to fade, as you'd expect. I had a different laser on the bottom star (still need to find out what it was called), and it's looking very red and patchy at the moment. It almost looks scabby, but it isn't. It hurts to touch more than the others.

I'm really excited to see what happens with this bottom star over the next few weeks. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm sure some of the ink has gone. I can't tell for sure yet though. Will keep you all updated. Have a great weekend.

KTP tip

So I just tweeted my technician and she apparently used a KTP tip on my bottom star. Let's hope we see some good results with it. :)

Pink skin

Hi everyone. I'm suddenly a RealFriend! But I'm not sure when this happened?! Really pleased though.

Only a week left until my 11th treatment. This has definitely been the most interesting waiting period yet.

At my last treatment a different tip was used on my bottom star, and the usual tip was used on the others. Within days of the treatment, the bottom star had lots of tiny scabs where the laser had been zapping it, which I have never had before.

When I looked closely behind the scabs, the amount of fading was just incredible. I'm confident that the majority of ink had gone.

The scabs have since fallen off, but I am now left with a pink star which is new, fresh skin. I haven't been able to stop wondering how long this skin will take to revert to its original colour, and I've been frantically searching online with no answers. I'm applying bio-oil twice daily to prevent scarring. Has anyone else had this and how long did it take for the pink to go? I hope it's only a few weeks, and I hope even more that it isn't permanent!

I'm excited but nervous - it could be that there is no ink left and when the pink does go; the star could be completely gone! Or, there could still be ink left and I need another treatment on it. Let's hope it's the first outcome.

Apart from that, the other stars are continuing to fade - slowly. I've put a lot of faith into this new tip, and I'm not sure the usual tip is going to completely remove it. So, GO KTP TIP!!

Hope you're having a great weekend and feeling positive with your removals. :-)

11th session tomorrow

Just a quick update - tomorrow is my 11th session. The pinkness on the bottom star is continuing to fade as I'm sure the ink is underneath. I'm really excited to see what it looks like after it's healed fully.

Tomorrow I'll be asking for the same laser tip that was used on the bottom star. I imagine they'll leave the bottom star well alone this time as any injury is sure to cause scarring.

I'd like to add that going forward, I will be waiting 5-6 weeks between sessions. This is because the pinkness takes quite a while to heal, and it takes about two weeks for the actual scabs to fall off. I don't want to do any damage, so I'll wait longer if necessary.

With our second daughter due in just over two months, I'm super keen to get started on removing the 'Lexie' tattoo. It's sad to be doing it, but I really want a new, smaller tattoo with both their names - one I won't ever regret.

I'll probably post my next update in a couple of weeks as my arm is going to be pretty sore for a while. I'll continue to apply bio-oil twice a day. I have quite a bit of browning too, so let's see if this new laser tip makes it disappear.

It's alive!

Right - I said I wouldn't post an update for a few weeks. However, I had my 11th session about three hours ago and THIS is what my arm looks like. My bandage fell off which is why I was able to take the photo. I have a new one on now.

I've seen a lot of photos with blistering but is this normal? There's no chance of scarring is there? I'll admit I was scared to show this to my wife, lol.

My next session is on the 19th December which is just under six weeks away (it was that or well into January). The technician also said it would be fine to treat the bottom star again, so she did.

I was also told that apparently, someone had walked into the clinic recently saying they had seen my story online, and they went ahead with treatment. As a thank you for this they said they will give me a discount on my other tattoo when we get started on it - yay!

Blisters healing

Apologies for adding three updates in the last week. It definitely wasn't my intention to have severe blistering and I'm not trying to constantly be at the top of the review page, honest!

I'm pleased to say the blisters are finally beginning to calm down, just slightly. They are really sore and they tend to leak quite a lot. Unfortunately I had to burst the huge blister at the top as it became so painful and I was bound to pop it accidentally at some point anyway.

I'm dabbing bio-oil on the blisters using cotton wool to try and speed things up. It's impossible to tell if anything has faded as I can't even see the tattoo at the moment - fading happens over time anyway!

I forgot to add in my last update; when I went in for treatment, the technician said that somebody had come in based on a review they had seen online. Turns out it was my review on here. It was quite a nice feeling to have helped someone decide to go forward with treatment. If you're that person and you're reading this, then I hope I helped, and maybe you could post photos of your own progress here?

I've also been asked to visit the BBC studios near me for an interview about tattoo removal, which will then be played on the radio. I guess this shows that tattoo removal is becoming a huge thing and that a lot of people are regretting their tattoos.

Hope you're all doing well!

Just a quick one..

Had my 11th treatment 11 days ago. I blistered pretty bad, and my whole arm then became scabbed. The scabs have since fallen off and my whole tattoo is bright pink. My next session is just under a month away so hoping the skin would have returned to normal colour then. I'm confident that the fading has been really good!

I also had my interview with the BBC about tattoo removal which was great fun. The interview was prerecorded and should be aired in a few weeks - I'll let you all know when in case you fancy a listen.

Radio interview

Hi folks. If you're interested, my interview about tattoo removal is on air tomorrow. It's on BBC Radio 1 at 12.45 and again at 5.45 UK time. I believe it can also be listened to in BBC Iplayer. Not sure if you guys in other countries have a way of listening?

I've not heard it myself but I'm sure I will be cringing like mad.

Tattoo - still very pink after last treatment. Treatment 12 is three weeks away so hoping it would have calmed down by then. Very, very eager to see how it has all faded underneath. Fingers crossed!

Treatment 12 on 19th Dec

My skin is still pretty damaged from the last session. My tattoo blistered all over and then it scabbed all over. The scabs left fresh pink skin, and nearly six weeks later, the skin is still quite pink.

I'll be asking for the same wavelength again (but turned up) as it's doing a really good job, but I also don't fancy an arm of blisters again. I'll need to ask if there is anything I can do to prevent it.

The bottom two stars are by far looking the best. I think the tattoo looks darker than it actually is because the pinkness is covering the ink, which I'm sure has faded a lot. I think it's going to take a couple if months for the pink to return to normal colour.

I've said this in one or two posts before but I really hope it starts losing its shape after this treatment. I'll feel much better as soon as the star shapes are gone and it becomes difficult to work out what the tattoo was.

Hope your removals are going well and that you're looking forward to Christmas. I've attached a few photos (two inside the house and three outside - I struggled to get some good light).

12th session down

I had my 12th treatment last Thursday. The tattoo had healed enough that they were happy to go at it again. They used the KTP tip (532nm) again but did not turn it up due to the blistering last time. To stop the blistering this time, they tried not to go so close with things and left little gaps to allow the heat to escape from the skin. I can safely say that I have not blistered - phew. I can already see great progress and I'm sure it will continue to fade over the next six weeks. In the meantime, I hope you all have an amazing Christmas. Don't spend too much time thinking about your tattoos okay?

PS: Please ignore the fact that I commented this update first. I'm an idiot and I wish I could delete it! lol!

Considering the 1064nm again

While the KTP (532nm) is fading my tattoo quite well, it's doing a lot of damage to my skin. Ever since I was treated this way, my skin has always been red and has looked sore.

If I squeeze my skin to see underneath the redness, the amount of ink left is not much at all! The redness makes the tattoo look so much darker than it probably is.

As such, I'm going to ask to be treated with the 1064nm again at my next session (30th Jan). I'm hoping it will be able to blast away the final bits of ink that are left and will also allow the redness to go away. When I was treated with this before, my skin never turned red, nor did it scab, so when the redness does go away, we should hopefully see just how faint it has become!

Any opinions or thoughts are welcomed! Oh, and I hope you all had a great Christmas!

Delaying appointment

I've done some thinking today and I am likely going to delay my next appointment by about two weeks, maybe more if I feel I can. I want to give the redness time to heal until it becomes clear how things are looking underneath.

Also, here is a photo of the second star up when I stretch the skin. Not sure how accurate this is but you can see how faint things are looking.

Appointment rescheduled

I finally managed to reschedule my next session, so it is now on the 20th of Feb. This equals nine weeks from my last treatment. I'm hoping that this will be enough time for the redness to disappear. If not, then I'll call again just before and delay it by another three (or even another six) weeks! Yep, I'm willing to do it.

It's taken a while for me to realise but as oneTime2many often says, you should allow as long as possible between treatments. This can admittedly be really tough to do as all we want is our tattoos gone; we're under this impression that treatment after treatment will make our tattoos disappear faster.

My mood has generally been better since delaying my appointment too. I'm very, very excited to see how things are looking after nine weeks. It's been so long since my arm hasn't been red and it will be great to see how much ink is left - not much I hope. Again, if the redness still hasn't gone, I'll delay it again. This is something I never thought I would do. I have never gone beyond six weeks before.

In the meantime, I'm taking a photo every Monday just to remind myself that the redness is fading. Wilks also posted about the importance of photos recently, I can't recommend them enough.

In other news, our baby is due next Sunday (19th). I'd really like to get started on my other tattoo soon so that I can finally get a tidy tattoo with both my kid's names. Almost there!

Organic shea butter

I ordered some organic shea butter today as I've heard so many great things about it, including its ability to clear redness. I like that this butter is actually an 'unfinished' product, meaning it never had any chemicals or perfumes added to it.

Here's a link it: http://www.amazon.co.uk/250g-Organic-Shea-Butter-Unrefined/dp/B004SMFLAK

I wondered if any of you use/have used this and how you found it? It's apparently absorbed quite deep into the skin, so is there a chance that it could hinder my future treatments?

Oh, I also had to delay my appointment (again). It is now officially on the 27th of Feb which equals 10 weeks since my last session. I'll continue to post photos every few weeks as the redness fades.

Have a great weekend.

32 days since last session

It's been 32 days (four weeks, four days) since my last treatment. I've been taking a photo every Monday for reassurance that the redness is fading.

I recently bought some shea butter - which comes as what is quite literally - a block of butter. You have to scrape some off and then warm it into your hands. It's yellow and creamy and takes a good while to be absorbed into the skin. I read some great things about it and couldn't resist giving it a try.

I've been applying this once every morning and again at night, along with two layers of bio oil during the day. I feel these have really helped fade the redness so far, particular over the last week when I have been using both products.

Our daughter was born on Wednesday (15th) and she is beautiful. She arrived four days early, and we named her Macey. She has made me even more determined to reach the end of this very difficult path.

I'll update again in two weeks. I'm still following all your stories and they are continuing to give me faith! I'm getting even more excited to see what lies beneath all this redness after 10 weeks.

Will this pinkness/redness/purpleness shift?

Our new bundle of joy has certainly been keeping us occupied these last two weeks. She has done a great job of distracting me from my tattoo, but I still tend to worry and think about the whole process a lot.

It's really frustrating because I know my tattoo looks better than this, but as long as this pink (or whatever colour you think it is) remains, then I can't ever see any progress. I almost feel like I'm not going forward at all.

Has anyone had this after being treated with the 532nm? Is it scarring? How long did it take your skin to return to normal colour? What did you do to speed things up? I am pretty desperate to get rid of the pink.

At my next session I'm going to ask for the 1064nm on full power to really try and pick up any last bits of ink in there. BUT.. I can't do that until the pink is gone. Is it ever going to go? :(

The pink is a lot more obvious when outside, so I took some photos in my back garden this morning. It's been almost six weeks since my last treatment.

46 days since last treatment

I'm not seeing much progress with the redness/pinkness fading. I'll admit that it's starting to frustrate me a little. Personally I can't see any difference at all, so I suspect I'll need to reschedule my next session for 15 weeks, which will be in April.

I'll update again when I start to see progress. I've stopped using creams and oils; although they are great for healing, my technician has advised that it's also good to let the skin dry out, so I'm going to try that for a while.

Session 13

After some thinking I decided to go in for my 13th treatment today. It's been eight weeks since my last treatment.

The original plan was to wait 10-15 weeks and go for a treatment after that. However I've been really keen to use the YAG (1064nm) again.

I stressed that my two main priorities today were, 1) hitting the tattoo as hard as possible to get as deep as possible, and 2) making sure it all reacts perfectly.

We basically used the R20 method; 5mm tip all over and then 3mm tip a short while later. It's quite nice to not be using the KTP (532nm) anymore as it is so brutal to the skin.

I wanted the YAG again as it is supposedly much gentler on the skin and this will hopefully help the dreaded pinkness/redness/purpleness heal.

I never thought I would say this but my next treatment is booked for the 28th May - 15 weeks!! The people on RealSelf who have the most success are the ones who wait, so I'm going to be really patient with this treatment.

I think this could really be a turning point!

Let's get started on the forearm tattoo!

For the first time in weeks, the sun was shining in Cardiff today. When I was sat near the window and the sun shone through, I was really pleased to see how faint my tattoo looked (and it's still healing from a few days ago). As you can see, it's mostly pink, not ink.

It's clear now that time is needed for this pink to heal and to show just how good things are underneath. Although I've booked an appointment for 15 weeks time, I expect it to take longer.

As it's so difficult waiting long periods - which we all of course already know - I'm going to finally start on my forearm tattoo to keep me busy.

I'd like to stress again that I have a perfect bond with my daughter Lexie. I love her very much but the tattoo is simply too big and I no longer want a tattoo on my forearm (should have thought about it more). I'm going to book an appointment for this week and get started on it. When I had the test patch it completely removed the ink, so it will be interesting to see how things go. I intend to go in at full power with the laser.

I am determined not to stress over this tattoo. It will not ruin my life, and when my stars are gone I will wear short sleeves. After my first treatment I am going to try and wait about 14 weeks, which will take me up to my appointment for the stars. If there's one thing I have learned it's that waiting longer between treatments really pays off.

First treatment on forearm

It feels weird to have finally gone ahead with treatment on my forearm, and there's no going back at this point either.

I had my first session yesterday and had the YAG (1064nm) on the highest setting there is. It hurt a fair bit as there is so much ink, but it was bearable.

24 hours later it's blistered (but NOTHING LIKE BEFORE!) and some parts have already broken up, especially on the 'L'. I am going to wait 14 weeks before my next treatment - May 28th. As I have mentioned before, I am in no rush to remove this one and I will not let it destroy my life. My appointments will be very spaced out.

If there were an award for 'most appointment reschedules so far in 2014' I would probably win with my star tattoo. I've been changing my appointments like mad, but I've decided to leave the stars for a good few months while the infamous pinkness heals. I'm hoping to wait a minimum of six months (part of the reason why I have decided to start on the forearm).

So far I've tried a lot of things to battle the pinkness: bio oil, aloe vera, shea butter, sudocrem, etc. I've heard a lot of people talk about silicone and how it's great at removing redness/pinkness, but it doesn't come cheap. Seeing as I'm leaving the stars for a good while, I decided to finally have a go with something called dermatix. It cost me £25 (is that about $30 - $40?). I did plenty of research and read lots of reviews, many of which praised its ability to remove redness. It's apparently recommended by surgeons for post-surgery scars too.

This is very sticky stuff so a little does go a long way. The instructions say that it should be used for a minimum of two months before you see results, so I'm going to stick at it I guess.

Hope your removals are all going just as well, have a great weekend.

The anti-pinkness mission continues..

It's been 10 days since I had the 'Lexie' tattoo treated. I won't post any photos yet as it is still completely scabbed. However, some parts are showing through and it's definitely turned that bluey colour. I'll update on this when the scabs are gone.

Meanwhile, I just didn't get along with the dermatix gel. It was so gloopy and took 74733699 hours to absorb. I had to go everywhere with my sleeve up which is obviously not something I want to do at this time.

So.. -sigh- .. I have bought something else which I have promised myself will be the last thing I buy. When I buy a product to try and fade this pinkness, it has to absorb quickly, not make the tattoo look darker and generally not be a nuisance to apply. I visited my doctor this week who suggested PURE aloe vera, so I picked some up online and it's 99.9% pure. I was surprised to find that the gel has no colour. It also absorbs very quickly which tops my list of priorities.

I'm going to use this once daily for the next few months and see how things go. I just want it to heal so badly so that I can finish my treatments. If removing a tattoo was a massive brick wall, I feel like I was almost through but then the pinkness has given that wall more strength. So, so frustrating but I am determined to finish this.

Time to end this...

I am hoping that this will be one of my final posts about my stupid star tattoo. I began laser tattoo removal around October 2012. Ever since, my life has been turned upside down and no matter how hard I try, it is absolutely impossible for me to draw my attention away from it. My daughter Lexie turned three years old today, and I cannot believe how quickly she is growing up. As she grows she is becoming so intelligent, and I'm afraid that if I ask her one day, "Do you remember when Daddy had stars on his arm?", she'll say that she did. This is something I really do not want to happen.

It's been such a long journey, and it's certainly not one I ever wanted to venture. Waking up every morning and seeing five huge stars in the bathroom mirror is becoming too much for me.

I had my first ever - what I believe to have been - an anxiety attack recently. It could have been down to a variety of reasons: applying for a job I wanted so badly, money worries, chronic illness (ulcerative colitis) fatigue, or even a relative jumping over 100ft to take his own life. I'm still shocked.

I couldn't see, I couldn't hear, I felt like I was on fire. It was really scary and I never want to go through it again.

It could be down to coincidence, but I clearly remember glancing at my tattoo before it happened. Whether that's what caused it I'll never know, but I'll bet it contributed.

So.. with all the above in mind, I've decided that enough is enough. It's time to end this nightmare. I want to get out of this dark tunnel and move on with my life. I want to wear short sleeves. I want to go swimming. I don't want to feel embarrassed in front of my own family. I want to enjoy Summer!

There's no easy way to say this, and I've been thinking about it for a while now - I have decided to remove my tattoo by excision.

In a nutshell, excision is when the tattoo is physically cut out of the skin and the skin is then stitched back together. It's a serious procedure and it's something that needs a lot of thought beforehand as it will leave a scar.

It's still early days, but I hope to have this done within the next couple of months, ideally before the warm weather comes. I have contacted several surgeons and I am looking at a cost of around £2000. I have also been told that due to the size of the tattoo, I will probably need a skin graft. This is likely to be taken from underneath my arm as there is naturally a lot of excess skin in this area. There will of course be very mixed opinions about excision (just like q-switched vs picosure), but it is something I have really thought hard about.

People will argue that it leaves a scar, but isn't my tattoo a scar already, just in the shape of stars? A scar is something I have come to accept, and I have decided that I would be very happy with a scar rather than five ridiculous stars. As soon as the procedure is over I will be confident enough to wear short sleeves again. And yes, the scar will show, but I'll be so happy with it!

I spent a lot of time telling myself that there isn't much point having it excised as I have already come so far with laser, but truthfully, I have lost all faith that it is going to disappear completely. The pinkness that I constantly rant about is not shifting and the top two or three stars are just not showing any further signs of progress.

There is very little information about excision on the web, so I hope that my future updates will help give an insight into this method.

While I am relieved to know that I will soon replace my tattoo with a scar that I will be happy with (and will fade over time anyway) I'm quite sad at the same time that I ever regretted a tattoo in the first place. I have an enormous amount of respect for anyone in the world having a tattoo removed - or even considering it. It takes courage to admit that you made a mistake and to then deal with it.

So let's wrap this up.. I have a consultation with a surgeon later this month where they will tell me what exactly is going to happen. I'll then need to arrange a date to have it removed. It's possible that I may need to have a couple of stars removed and then go again a few months later to have the others removed. I'll need to check this. Truthfully though, as long as it's gone in the next few months I'll be thrilled.

Have a great weekend.

Consultation on March 28th

My consultation with a surgeon is booked for next Friday (28th March). I'm really excited and it couldn't come sooner. It's going to cost a hefty £150 though.

I've already been preparing a few questions which I've written below. If you have anything that you'd like me to ask on your behalf then just give me a shout!

Can a skin graft be avoided - They've only seen photos of my arm so far, but they seem to think I will need a skin graft. I will admit that this frightens me a bit, but I will do whatever is necessary. I'm just wondering if there's any alternatives.

Where will the graft be taken from - if I do need a graft then I will hope it is taken from inside my arm. I would be quite comfortable with this so hope that's what they'll do.

How many sessions - due to the size of the tattoo, I suspect they may need to operate two or three times. If so, I will want the bottom two or three stars gone first as they are the ones stopping me from wearing short sleeves. If they can be removed in one go - bring it on!

Can I have two or three smaller scars - I would rather have a few smaller scars (that look like cat scratches) than one giant one which will probably look more nasty. I think several smaller scars will look a lot better.

Healing time - I appreciate this could be well up to two years of constant cream rubbing, but I obviously want to fade the scars as much as I possibly can.

I have some other questions like price, aftercare, soreness etc as well. The main question is can they actually do it, and i'm praying that they can.

I will update after my consultation next Friday. Have a great weekend!

Six weeks post forearm treatment #1

Just a quick update on the forearm tattoo. It's been almost six weeks since my first treatment. I'm not due back for another nine weeks. Some parts are breaking up nicely.

There are little 'craters' which were left behind after the scabs fell off. I wondered if anyone has experienced this and if they 'filled in' with normal skin again?

Excision seems to be the option

Today was one big day. I left my old job, and I had a fairly long and tiring journey to Swansea where I had to use a map to find the hospital - in the rain.

My surgeon was a great guy, he instantly made me feel comfortable. We spoke for quite some time so I'll briefly list the most important points.

Firstly, we decided that I do NOT want a skin graft. He said a skin graft will never blend with your skin and will always be noticable. They are very unsightly and I would probably prefer the tattoo (and that's saying something).

We then went on to discuss what the scars would look like. He said the bottom three stars would form an 'L' shape, just how they are positioned at the moment. With the top two, he said that he may not be able to remove them completely without a graft, but there may just be a couple of pointy bits left. If this is the case, at least they would be covered by t-shirts and I could gradually remove them with laser.

He said that the scars will be quite noticable, but that they do of course fade over time. I'm expecting them to be horrific for a few months but I plan to be quite patient with it.

I could lose a man card here, but I thought I was going to cry when I walked out. I felt really overwhelmed that I even travelled so far to speak to someone about surgery, all because I made a stupid mistake a few years back.

On my way back to the train station I was thinking "I can't do this, I can't do this. I'll just get a coverup". I even walked past a tattoo parlour and stood there for a while, deciding whether or not to go in. Then I remembered all the realself members who regretted their coverups. You have possibly saved me making a huge mistake, again.

On the train home, I thought hard and realised that I do want this. I keep picturing myself wearing short sleeves again, with just a small 'line' (scar) showing past the sleeve. Being topless on the beach and not being conscious, and just generally feeling like I have overcome the biggest obstacle I have ever faced. I do want this, I really do.

I suffer with a chronic bowel condition called ulcerative colitis. It's similar to Crohn's disease and can take over my life if it isn't under control. It's a rare disease and many sufferers have their whole colons removed because they don't react to the medication. On Twitter recently, these people have been using #GetYourBellyOut, with a photo of their scars. Some of them are huge, but they seem to be really proud of them. These people are quite inspirational when it comes to scars.

I haven't been feeling too good lately so I found it difficult to take in everything the surgeon was saying. So, I'm going to give him a quick call on Monday to just clarify what his plan with the top two stars were. If we're both happy that they can be fully/mostly removed without a graft, I'll make a booking.

The price was surprisingly better than I had expected - £1105, as opposed to the £2000 I was quoted. He did say however, the price bumps up when anaesthetists get involved. This means that if I can undergo the whole thing under local anaesthetic, I'll pay £1105. General anaesthetic will be higher.

I could really feel sympathy from my surgeon and he did make me laugh too. I actually had a free consultation at a different hospital next week, but the surgeon there has totally ignored my emails. Although the appointment is free, I won't be seeing him! It pays to show courtesy, which he hasn't.

Peace and love.

The end is near

There was a lot to take in at my consultation last Friday, so I had no choice but to call my surgeon again today to clarify a few things.

I had some great news - the tattoo can be FULLY removed, but with a little more time. I am absolutely thrilled though.

Due to the size of the top star, the surgeon won't be able to remove it in one go. However, once the skin has regained its elasticity in only 6-12 months, I can go back and have the rest removed! Huge, huge relief and it will be great to have the 'what ifs' and 'whens' out of the equation. It'll be a little frustrating to have some left at first, but I can finally wear short sleeves comfortably again in the meantime!

In terms of scarring, my arm will be covered with silicone sheets for a while. After three months the redness of the scars will clear and things will soften and look better.

I haven't told my parents about this yet, so I hope they will be supportive of my decision. They've also never seen my review so I will show them in the hope that they get an insight into how tough and upsetting this whole thing is. My mum is a natural worrier and I appreciate she may not know much about how horrible it is, but I hope it helps her understand why I'm doing this.

So this is it.. I've been told to expect an appointment letter in the post soon. I will of course let you know the date when I have one.

The final stretch!

I have a surgery date! My tattoo will be GONE on the 16th of April.

Isn't that a weird sentence? If only we could all have a date. Life would be so much easier.

There will of course, be a small amount of the top star left (unless it turns out there is enough skin to remove it completely, but I doubt it).

It seems a bit surreal that in less than two weeks my arm will look completely different. I'm a little worried about seeing the result at first, but I'm excited to have a normal looking scar a few months after.

7 days to go

This time next week my tattoo will be gone, and my arm will most likely be sore.

I received my appointment letter and an inpatient booklet. Getting nervous now!

Other options

Hi everyone.

Apologies for not updating my review yesterday. I know a handful of you were keen to find out how my excision went. My head was all over the place.

Unfortunately I didn't go ahead with the surgery. I backed out at the very last minute, or second.

I woke up at 5.30am with every intention of having the excision done. I was ready to see my tattoo gone! My mum arrived at my house and drove me to the hospital in Swansea where I'd be having the excision done.

I checked in and was shown to my room where a nurse double checked my details and put a hospital band around my wrist. I was still fine at this point!

Eventually the surgeon who I had spoken to before walked in and wanted to check that I was happy with everything. Suddenly, he began saying things that really frightened me.

He said that he can GUARANTEE the scar will stretch, up to 1cm wide and possibly bigger on the shoulder where there is a lot of movement. He then also said that the scar could be raised, and there is no guarantee that it will ever flatten completely.

A lot of other things were said but it was these two points that worried me most. I was hesitant but said I would go ahead, and signed the declaration, even though it read 'incomplete removal'. The surgeon left the room and my mum said that I looked like I was panicking. After a quick chat with her (and not knowing when the surgeon would come back), we instantly decided this was a bad idea and that if I ever did want to go ahead, I could always come back. The surgeon was very understanding and agreed that I should not have it done if I am unsure.

I still think excision is a very good option for tattoo removal, and sometimes works out cheaper than laser. However it is much better for smaller tattoos and not those that are similar to the size of mine. Even if you have a small tattoo, you need to be 100% sure you want it and it's critical that you know what to expect with your scar and aftercare.

I was very relieved to get back in the car with my arm intact. If the surgeon hadn't left me alone after signing the declaration and took me straight into surgery then I could have made a terrible mistake.

I am now running out of options, but I can safely say excision was not a good option for me.

My stars are more scar than ink now, so I'm going to look into scar laser removal. If I could fade the purpleness of the scars then the tattoo could become almost invisible.

I have heard though, that this type of laser is expensive. So I have also thought about removing the bottom two stars and having a coverup tattoo over the top three stars (which are under my sleeves).

There is also the option of a chemical peel which is apparently good for discoloured skin.

Clearly I have some more thinking to do.

Have a great Easter!
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I respect you following your gut instinct on this Welsh...it's a major decision to undergo and taking time to weigh ALL of your options is a smart move. I support your choice and hope you get some good news for the alternate methods...I hope you are doing well, there is nothing wrong with taking some time :)
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why you dont try skin graft i think its better like exision or maybe not its degustinc the video on youtube like exision ans skin graft i hate this mode tatoo we spoil our body thank you the worst job of the world tatooist they are silly crazy and they spoil the body of young people
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hi tchad i have big scar like you but my tattoo is at very worst place in arm in front of do tou think its pissible to remove with exision without problrmon biceps this size of tattoo its my tattoo i want to remoove ))))) )))) ))))) ))))) ))))))))))))))))))))
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it this size it like an aplhabetic letter L 4cm IN HEIGT and 4 cm FOR THE BOTTOM LIN And large is 1cm im muscle guy so i have big biceps i think its difficult i can i have the same problem with the scar like tou but i hate this f.........k tattoo i want to remoove its a the bottom of biceps
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You always have to trust your gut. It's always right. If you didn't feel 100% about the procedure then it wasn't meant to be. Best wishes..
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Hey Chad! I really hope that you are feeling good today and to be honest, I really thing (and apology for this) that it is for good that you didn't have a surgery! I do think that excision might be still an option for some tattoo (just like you said), but you already have come such a long way with laser and your results are quite nice and I do agree that I can't see the ink anymore. Most likely this is some kind of scar and can be treated differently. I am proud of your decision! I feel you pain and I do understand why you turned it down. I would probably do the same. THANK YOU for sharing that experience! I wish you best of luck!
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Thanks Marisska. Really appreciate what you said! Time to look into other options but one way or another I will see this tattoo gone. I noticed you were considering excision with your tattoo; it would be a completely different type of scar for you so don't ever be afraid of speaking to a surgeon if you can't cope with laser anymore. I'm sure it won't come to that though. :)
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You can count on my support anytime! I am getting more and more involved into the process and actually coming to peace with it. The further you go, the more I understand what you guys are feeling, as I am on very early stage. Well, yes, excision is my back-up plan, but to be honest, I just think about it as an option to actually think that I have options :) Deep down inside I really hope that laser will work for me and considering that my tattoo is quite small, I might be satisfied with the final result even if I get some skin damage. I am on a very beginning and do not feel like I want to give up that easily. I want to finish at least 10 treatments and see how far it will take me. All in all, it is me and my skin and my body and I cherish it and love it! I did had a surgery once (nose job 1 year ago) and though I know all about preparation and everything, surgery is still a surgery and recovery can be quite annoying and hard. Then I got my first treatment, I was scared and didn't know what to do and I didn't have enough information about the removal. Now I feel more in control and like you said, we have different options and one way or another it will be gone! (sooner or later). Again, I will share my opinion, I am VERY proud of your decision! I am glad you thought things through and didn't make a mistake! Love yourself, love your body and soul and even your arm with tattoo. It is still you and it is just a small cosmetic effect that will be gone! I really hope that you will find some peace and relief and take some time away of thinking and decisions. Just relax and enjoy your life and then look to the other option! Big hug from Russia!
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have you got the mail of dr and or hopital i give you my mail its very important i m very nervous like you about my bad tattoo my mail is ****removed personal email address as not permitted in comments****
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Hi French, it was Sancta Maria Hospital in Swansea with Dr Ghattaura. Hope this helps.
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thank you
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do you have see on website or internet results of exision and skin graft tattoo removal of this clinic and dr have you got a link if its possible on this website
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can you say me by message or by mail the name of dr and the hospital and have you giot a picture of this result for tattoo removal
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hi i have the same problem of you big black tattoo no gone with laser i want see and maybe test your clinic for plastic surgery what is the dr what it is the clinic where is it by
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I'm reading over your posting and am thinking more and more about it. You have posted some wonderful thoughts and you certainly help others out tremendously. You are a very busy guy on this forum. One thing I'd like to say in response to your aversion to your daughter's possible remembering your stars ["do you remember when daddy had stars on his arm" and you fear she will]. I think that that would be a wonderful learning opportunity for her. She'll find out that you are human, that you make mistakes, you are not perfect. I know you might want to be perfect as you're her father, you're strong and brave...but the stars, the removal, this forum, have all made you a wonderful, strong, and supportive person. And I for one, think that is what she will remember about this time. Not the stars. Not how you looked, not how you wanted to look...but how you made her feel. Just like you've made all of us feel supported. Good luck with your surgery, how exciting for you. I'm sure you'll pull through like a trooper. Looking forward to hearing all about it. aloha...k
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Thank you. Your comments really mean a lot to me! I will definitely let you know how it goes.
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So excited for you!!! Best of luck and look forward to your update. 
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Thanks Eva. I'll let you know how it goes!
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Hey Welsh- best of luck on April 16th, that must be a relief!! Do you know if they are going to remove them all in one excision line or are they going to do a series of excisions on each star? Either way it must be exciting to see the end- you've been a real trooper and deserve to see an end to this madness!!
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Hi onetime. I believe there will be two scars; the bottom three stars will form one 'L' shaped scar due to their position and the top two should form a straight line. The remaining bit of the top one will be a little frustrating but I can't wait to wear short sleeves again! Hope you're doing well.
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I can totally see the layout of that now...sounds good :) I'm really happy for you, and although it takes major courage to undergo this route, you have exhausted all the other options it seems. This journey is really long and exhausting and it's not even guaranteed- but I agree I'd rather have a clean line scar (or coverup) than a ghost. I'm well, still hanging in there- been just about 3mo since my last laser and parts are still apparent and reddish. Oh well, I could live w/ it b/c of its size but I may get 1 more blast in a few months, and if so, that's it I'm done w/ laser!!! I really hope you fare well in this direction...you really deserve a bit of peace of mind. Take care my friend and keep us posted :)
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Thanks so much! You are one of the people who really kept me going and educated me a lot, especially with leaving longer between sessions. I wish my results were as good as yours, you definitely give a lot of people on realself some hope! It's a shame that I had to take this route, but when I'm on a beach sometime in a few years I would much rather be seen with a normal scar than a childish tattoo. People will know I've had surgery, but they won't know why. I'm totally happy with that. My surgeon is going to discuss scar management and then there are all the things I bought to try and reduce that pinkness I had! I'm confident I can get it looking really good, but I'm determined to wear short sleeves even while it's angry. I really hope your tattoo is gone completely soon. You're a fine example of patience and you deserve to see the end of this. Really. :)
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Thanks man- I totally understand and sympathize w/ yr outlook in every way -I dig scars actually :) I know you will fare well and it's def time for the pay off!! Lots of props to you and thanks for the best wishes- hang onto that strength as you enter your next phase!!
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I'm worried my tattoo will never go away considering you had stars as well (not even filled) and they never went w/out surgery :(
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