A Dream Becomes a Nightmare but the End is in Sight - Hawaii, HI

I live in a place where hand tattooes are...

I live in a place where hand tattooes are culturally acceptable if not expected. I began the tattoo journey years ago with the help of a trusted artist. I always wanted to add to the tattoo, it was stunning and so unique. I went back to the trusted artist, we discussed for an extensive amount of time and so the continuation of the journey began. What a nightmare!! The freehand drawing did not execute the same as intended, the placement isn't right, the colour isn't right. As the trusted artist was bandaging up my hand all I could think was "well this will have to be lasered off".

I went for a consultation at a medical clinic here in the isolated community where I live. We are fortunate to have a very well trained plastic surgeon who open up clinics here. If you want your tummy tightened, he's your man. The consultation went well, locals recommended the clinic highly and the price although expensive was fair. The clinic takes excellent care of me. Lidocaine shots prevent any pain, which the clinic says interfers with healing.

So the journey has begun. I've had two single sessions done eight weeks apart. I kept the hand wrapped in gauze for the first week after each session. I slather on the Bacitrin ointment, then graduate to coconut oil and Vitamin E and then Moroccan/Argan oil. I massage the area, I keep it from the sun's harmful rays, I drink plenty of water and fresh fruits and vegetables. I also focus on the offending ink and say to it "now you must go". A positive attitude is very important with healing from any trauma.

I've also used camoflauge makeup, which does help but doesn't hide it, only minimizes it. I also use an Ace bandage and pretend I have arthritis, although no one asks.

One thing this forum has done: it has opened the doors of communication. I thought I was alone with my ink regret, but alas there are many out there. And I'm not the only one that allowed a trusted artist to freehand. I've been asked to share my story but was concerned that the artist would be offended. Afterall previous work was wonderful, but we all mistakes even professionals. I made a mistake, plain and simple. But the mistake is being fixed with the help of the laser.

More importantly, on those gloomy nights where I was freaking out over what I had done, how much this was costing, how this would all pan out...you were all there for me. You may not have known that you gave me comfort with your wonderful words, but I am truly grateful for your help.

I begin the R20 technique next week. I've had two single treatments, in December and in February. The R20 is multiple passes of the laser separated by a rest period: the technican will pass the laser over the offending ink and then we will wait 30 minutes and then do it again, then rest and then do it again. This new technique studied by doctors and written up in medical journals is promising. I'm grateful that the clinic suggested it and that they are offering a 2for1 special rate. The technican joked that "us hula dancers gotta stick together".

And we ink regret sisters and brothers also have to stick together.

Hi! Hoping the R20 goes well. I'm looking for clinics around my area that do it, and the closest is 4 hours. Ugh! It might be worth it to have the ink gone! Would love to see some pics after your R20 session! Hope all is well!
Blackberry11 is great, and you have been super helpful yourself Kahelelani!! Im very excited to hear about the R20 you are having done. Reading all the reviews I am leaning towards this myself. Unfortunately I will have to drive to Minneapolis MN. 6 hours round trip! YUCK! When I got the tattoo I got VERY sick to my stomach. I hope this does not happen with the removal!! To be safe I will pry have someone drive me there and back. I get very anxious. Oh, and this is really weird... I have been so stressed out that my eye has been twitching (3 weeks now!)... UGH... Dang nerves!!
aloha AprilMang4, My eye twitches also with stress and it was twitching for weeks before I got the tattoo...but I didn't recognize the signs. I was also very nervous about the removal process. But the clinic takes very good care of me. I ended up with this ink as a cover up because I didn't want to go forward with the removal before and now removal is an even bigger job. Oh well, live and learn. I will be posting pictures this week. As for the driving, well if it has to be done it has to be done. What will make you happy? I was gonna fly to a clinic and then lo and behold this plastic surgeon opened up in our little town. Things happen for a reason.

Wednesday March 27th 10PM I had my third session...

Wednesday March 27th 10PM
I had my third session today, it was the R20 technique: multiple passes in one session with a rest period between. I told the doctor that the last time the lidocaine shots made my hand feel wierd for hours afterwards. He cut back on the dosage which really helped. My hand was un-numbing by 5PM and I was also able to surf the net (most important action of all) by 3PM. The session took two hours and he did three passes of the laser at level 5.0 each time. The ink reacted in its usual way with the white air bubbles coming to the surface. The second and third passes were uneventable thanks to the lidocaine injections. I don't feel anything and that is so wonderful. The area is slightly red but no blistering yet. I keep it completely covered until tomorrow (as instructed) and then will remove, slather the bacitrin ointment on and rebandage. This time I was instructed to keep it bandaged for at least a week. I wear a long purple rubber glove in the shower. So far I have spent $1200 and had five laser passes (two singles and this third with the triple passes). My next session is booked for end of May and then another at the end of July. I will probably take a break until December. I have taken photos and will be posting them very soon.
Hi Kahelelani... been thinking about you... hope your healing is doing good!! Have a good week :D
Mahalo/Thanks AprilMang4 for thinking about me. I am trying to stay positive and keep the tattoo/wrist covered. Most of the blisters have popped on their own and I found new vitamins to support skin and a new lotion (Kiss My Face A&D) without petroleum (that stuff makes me itch). I'm eating healthy, laying off the chocolate and sugar and thinking about next summer when I'll be ink free or at least faded. Thanks again and hope your week goes well. A new week, a new month of postiveness. aloha...k
Great reading your story. It's very inspiring! We will just keep pushing on and we WILL see results.... Just have to be patient! :) thanks for sharing

So it's now six days post session 3,4,5 (remember...

So it's now six days post session 3,4,5 (remember I'm having the R20 technique done multiple passes of the laser with breaks) and I will admit it's been a roller coaster ride of emotions and strength. The day after the session I felt completely and utterly weak, no energy at all. Just making a sandwich was an effort. I lay in front of the picture window looking at the trees and the sky, napping on and off with canine companionship. Then the "woe is me" crying session on Sunday night. I felt so useless and so negative "oh how long is this gonna take" and "look at how much money this is costing us". And then on Monday I realized that I'm just too hard on myself...well blackberry11 helped me to see this also. And then today the sixth day I realized that it's just a mistake and it's being fixed. It doesn't really matter how much it's costing, it's costing and that's all there is to it. I really wanted this tattoo, thought about for years and returned to the trusted artist. It's just the way it is. And so now on the sixth day after applying bacitracin and bandages all week long (as instructed) and watching blisters form and drain and perhaps, oh perhaps there is fading (but maybe it's too soon to tell) I am finally...well I'm not sure exactly how I'm feeling. I feeling hopeful. I'm taking my extra vitamins, my multi-vitamins and now some collagen drops for the skin. I drinking my vitamin water (airborne) and my acai (Amazon superfood) and looking at the tattoo and thinking "out you go". I'm thinking that the 3 P's are in order: stay POSITIVE, be PERSISTENT and above all be PATIENT.

I'm thinking of all of you, wishing all of you the best with your fading and I'm especially thankful to all of you who have sent me positive vibes.
It must be so hard getting this done on your hand. I find keeping it covered to be such a pain. I couldn't imagine doing just daily activities with blisters on my hands so props to you! I should be taking more vitamins and eating healthier to make my immune system stronger so it can help fight off the ink better. 
It gets to be a pain but I only keep it bandaged for a week.  I have a rubber glove, purple my favourite colour, that I wear in the shower and when I do housework.  I also wrap it loosely with a bandage and most people think I have arthritis.  But hand tattooes are common here in Hawai'i and so it's not a big issue.  I don't blister much.  I read somewhere (Dermatology I think) that blisters mean the skin is reacting and my technician is very careful.  I don't have any pain as they give lidocaine shots.  I could go without but know that it would be very painful.  Besides, the blisters aren't big either, just small.  Here I am post eight days after the R20 and all blisters have drained and now I'm healing nicely.  I slather on the VitA&E lotion and keep going.  That's all we can do, keep moving forward.  I also use a conealing powder that's smudgeproof and it lightens the tattoo.  And to top it all off, the day when the blisters are annoying, we have take out pizza and hubby folds the laundry..  So I'm pampered.  :-)
Hey I hope your feeling better.I know what you mean about being upset and trying to stay positive.have you noticed any significan. Fading since you had the tattoo?

Friday April 5th: I've been thinking so much...

Friday April 5th: I've been thinking so much about how to get this ink off of me...and NOW!! I am trying really hard to practice the three Ps: positiveness, persistence and patience. I'm evening considering flying to another island to investigate the new picosure technique (which will cost me time and money that I can't afford right now). I have had two single sessions and one R20 only a week ago. So I need to focus on my three Ps.

I am subscribed to "Insightful quotes" and daily receive emails of a quote. Today's definitely applies to me. And blackberry11 suggested I share it with all of us ink regret sufferers. Yes, I want the ink gone now! But small steps will reap results that are pleasing.

“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn't formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.”

? Lee Haney
This is a great inspirational quote! Patience can sometimes be the hardest thing in the world! And for some of us that are going thru this right now our patience Is for sure being tested! We can do this! Time heals all wounds! Right?!! ;)

April 15th 2013: This morning I sent a hefty check off to the IRS, which saddens me because

April 15th 2013: This morning I sent a hefty check off to the IRS, which saddens me because I could have used it towards laser tattoo removal.

I've been reading how many people experience sad, depressed feelings following their laser session. I thought I was the only one. Within a day or two of a laser session I begin to feel overwhelmed, sad, and depressed. The regret feelings are overwhelming. I begin to think that I'm ugly and overwhelmed that this removal process is going on far too long and that it might never end and that it might not work. How did I get here?! How did I let this happen?! Oh crap, it really sucks!
I know that it's probably more than my immune system being affected by the laser session. It's so easy to slather on the antibiotic ointment and keep the area bandaged and protected from bumps...but how do I keep my sense of self-esteem and self worth up?
I have focused as many other members have suggested to focus on building up my immune system: drink lots of water, avoid sugar if possible, eat healthy foods including fresh veggies, nuts and seeds, limit alcohol.
Now that I'm almost three weeks post the third session I do see fading, breaking of lines and the tattoo is beginning to look like a very old tattoo. I slather on the lotion, squeeze vitamin E capsules onto the skin and have booked a massage. The healing touch is suppose to do wonders and boost the immune system.
Good luck to everyone, we're in this together and now I know that that means more than just the visit to the clinic to have the laser beam aimed at the offending ink, it means sticking in there, keeping positive thoughts in our heads.
Hang in there, I completely understand the feelings of regret after a session seem overwhelming, as I prepare for session 7 I already am mentally preparing myself. Thinking of you
Just wanted to say hi, or aloha, and hope your progress is coming along. I have two half sleeves i'd like to remove one day. It's nice knowing there are so many others all over the world who are in the same boat. Good luck!

May 13th 2013: well it's been two months since the R20 treatment

update May 13th 2013: well it's been two months since the R20 treatment. I see breaking of lines and overall fading. I was at an event on Friday night and looked at my hand in a new light, literally and figuratively. The tattoo looks like an old tattoo and I began to think less harshly about it. No, I don't want to keep it. But I know it's going out the door, it's on its way out my friends and I couldn't more happier. I've started looking at coverups for it, there are a lot of ideas out there and I'll need to find a new artist that is more willing to listen to me but also offer their professional advice. That's what the last artist was lacking, the artist could have said "I don't think that'll look good" or "what do you mean by swirling lines and more feminine". So my next quest is to find such an artist knowing that there is hope, there is fading. My next R20 is in three weeks, but I might postpone until the end of July. There are sections of the skin still rough despite slathering on lotion and potions and vit e oil. The more healing the better, the goal is removal not to beat up my delicate skin. I know I'll be drawing on the virtue of patience (I am learning that every day). Wish me luck with the patience, it's hard!!
Gosh, those few days after is so hard. Spiraling depression and feeling down on yourself, no self esteem, etc. I get it every time! The good thing is it goes away in about a week, until the next session. I'm seeing some fading, head up! It's tough though. Thinking of you! :)
mahalo/thank you Regretful99,  Your support and all the others here on the forum really helps.  Yes, I do see fading, the photos may not show it but yesterday in the sunlight half the finger looked almost gone.   Yes the depression is awful but probably part of the healing after the laser session.  Yesterday I treated myself and had a wonderful henna done on my shoulder.  It was for a special occasion but has perked me up immensely it's ridiculous!  I got for the second R20 session in two weeks and I'm thinking positive thoughts.  Again thank you so much for your wonderful support.  aloha...k
How nice to hear your your beautiful henna has picked up your spirits, I am so glad for you! You deserve all the happiness in the world!

R20 post two months, strategies of healing the skin

I had the R20 technique done (three passes each separate by a 30 minute break) on March 13, 2013. Now two months later I thought I'd update on my adventure into finding the right aftercare products. I had been using Kiss My Face A&E lotion thinking it was helping, it's a good product but just not serious enough to tackle the dry raised skin in parts of the blasted area. It's funny as the top of my wrist is the slowest to heal from the dry skin. Then I dried Palmer's Cocobutter stick thinking if it helped with stretch marks it should help with dry skin, but again just not the impact that I desired. The next product was an internal product called Biosil, it's a drop form of silicon and choline (can be found on Amazon), five drops into juice to help with skin, hair and nails. The stuff tastes nasty, my friends, and so five drops on a tablespoon with acai and then a shot glass of pure acai does the trick. Swallow and try not to breathe as that will only make it taste worse. Then I thought how about vitamin e oil topically onto the skin...that did something but simply not enough so I put on the big gloves and tried BioOil (not to be confused with Biosil). Again from Amazon, it was reported to be very helpful, full of vitamins and essential oils to calm the skin. It's very slippery like baby oil but massaged into the skin seems to be doing the trick. One thing that I've noticed about review updates is that there is very little mention of the aftercare procedure or problems and the aftercare is the most important part of the treatment. Anyways I think I've found the solution of a combination of oral drops of BioSil, slather on the BioOil and then follow up with Curel Intensive Healing. The BioOil is a little fragrant, smells very artificial of roses (which I hate) but the product works for me. In the meantime I will be postponing the next R20 session from next week until the end of July. I'd like to save the $600 fee but more importantly allow the extra time for my skin to heal. This will mean a four month separation between R20 sessions. I'm okay with that although part of me really, REALLY wants this offending ink off! Like right now! But I'm learning to be patient. I'm sporting some lovely new mala beads and looking the other way.
Thank you for the great review! I really enjoyed it... you're very positive person! I am fortunate in that my tattoo is on my back/shoulder so I can't see it as readily as others and mine is easily hidden. I hope you are able to get your next treatment soon so you can continue your removal journey. One small step at a time! I wish you the very best! What island do you love on? My sister lives on Oahu in the Ewa Beach area. I've been fortunate to have been able to go to both Oahu and Hawaii.... Beautiful!! Aloha!
Sorry *live on* although love may be appropriate too! :)
Hello! Just checking to see how you are doing and the removal is coming along. :D hope all is well.

Graduate School distraction

aloha all...thank you all for the lovely messages and checking in with me. I have been so busy with graduate school these past two months. I delayed a treatment at the end of May because the skin was still rough but healing from the March R20 session. I also wanted to save a bit of money. Graduate school ain't cheap, folks! :) But it's been quite the distraction. I've been so busy researching, writing papers, that I haven't had much time to think about the offending ink...oh there it is I see it now. Today is my last day of summer classes, I have three weeks off and so on Wednesday next week I have my next session. I'm spreading the sessions apart, R20 takes a beating on my skin. But I see fading, and I'm very pleased with that. Yes, this will take some time, so patience is a definite plus, and having the support of all of you. That also helps. You are all so wonderful. Here's to fading for all of us. Out you go offensive ink. I submit my final paper today and then I'm off to the beach. Living in Hawai'i, one must remember the good things. Good luck to all of us. aloha...k
aloha Michelle502,  I have learned to be positive, it is so much easier to be than negative.  My self esteem is soaring.  Part of this is because of where I live, and part of it is this forum.  I live on Hawai'i island, very rural compared to O'ahu.  You've been here, so you know it's beautiful, not just the scenery but the people also.  Thank you for the support.  I hope your removal goes well also.  aloha...k
aloha AprilMang4, Yes, everything is wonderful, fading is coming along, graduate school is keeping me busy.  Next session is on Wednesday and more pictures will follow.  "Out you go offensive ink!".  I hope all is well with you.  aloha...k
aloha rafa8ch, my hand looks pretty good after the R20.  My second session is next week, Wednesday.  I know now which cream to use to help the skin restore to its glowing self.  It's all trial and error and every one is different.  I'll be posting next week.  aloha....k

Second R20 session

Yesterday was my second R20 session on the offending ink. The normal procedure happened, I arrived, was injected with lidocaine (ouch I hate that) and then blasted three times with each session separated by a half hour wait. The technician looked at the skin and thought it was taking a beating, so he turned the dial down to level 3 (last time was level 5). We talked about the silicone scar sheets that I've purchased, I'll start wearing them in a week or so. The next session will be in December when I'm on holiday from graduate school. We also talked about the depression feelings I sometimes get after a laser session. I understand that it's a roller coaster ride, elation when I am having the treatment, I'm so excited about fading and then depression sets in. The technician said it's perfectly normal, it happens with any procedure. Then I asked him about removing the other ink on my hand, I'd really like my hand clean. He was hesitant, brown ink can react differently and even turn black. Maybe in December I'll see about a test spot on the brown, just a small area to see if it reacts negatively. For now, I'm all bandaged up, not one blister in sight, no pain, nothing. I'm happy about that. The technician commented that it's definitely fading, the once black ink is grey in areas and gone in some others. I'm happy about that also. I need to get photos up, but my camera isn't cooperating, sometimes technology is not my friend. But I sure do like the laser. :-)
So glad you aren't in pain... Happy thoughts being sent your way... Are you scarring? Is that what the scar sheet is for?
There was some roughness to the skin after the first R20 session in March.  I wanted to be prepared.  The technician thinks there may be the beginning of a scar but the silicone sheets will smooth it out.  I don't to impede any healing or block any future laser sessions.  So far there have not been any bruising, or blistering.   Blisters are not our friends, it means the skin has been damaged and the blister is a protection.  But no pain, the clinic doesn't believe this should be painful, it impedes healing.  And no depressed feelings this time, I'm feeling more confident with each session, the ink is fading, it looks like a very old tattoo now.  I think staying positive, venting my feelings to supportive people and eating healthy is certainly helping with my recovery.  aloha...k
Thanks for your update! So glad you are not in pain -happy thoughts!

Helpful website brings me peace of mind

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443995604578002543545271044.html This website gives some wonderful insight to what to expect, I knew that I would need at least ten sessions. I'm also grateful that fresh ink, as opposed to old, is easily removed. The average cost seems to be $200, which is exactly what I'm paying. It always makes me feel better to know that I'm doing the right thing, removing it now. I so wish I had a magic wand that I could wave over my ink to remove it, I'd then pass the wand onto all of you. But life isn't like that...and of course I hate that it isn't...just another test of patience. aloha...k

another helpful website that brings peace of mind...but where is that magic wand?!

I bet the wand is hiding in a magic cave in Hawaii so start searching!
Thank you for the websites, hope your healing well :)

The pictures say it all

I knew there was fading but now it's official. These pictures say it all. The first one is right after the ink was applied, no lasering done yet, only regret. The second photo was taken a few days ago, 4 weeks after the 2nd R20 (8 passes of the laser beam in total). Waiting between sessions really does help, being patient, not obsessing (which is hard) and keeping positive. It will work, it is working.
My review seems to have disappeared.  Hmmm...technical difficulties I hope.  I had my third R20 treatment done on Wednesday.  They had a new filter and amped up the level.  Swelling commenced, purple bruising and the usual white film was now silver.  I'm hopeful, definitely hopeful, but the usual sadness and depression has surfaced.  It didn't with my treatment in July.  But yesterday there were tears, and feelings of "oh what I've done".  All of this is normal, I've dealt with it before.  I'll have another session in December and then I'm waiting about a year.  I need to focus on graduate school (and that's tough enough let me tell you).  aloha...k
Hi K! No worries, your review is still here. Sometimes mine doesn't load properly and I can't see it but refreshing the page fixes the issue! I'm sorry you had an emotional treatment and do hope you are feeling better now.... I look forward to seeing some photos in a few weeks... there is already amazing fading from your first and second treatments!! Hang in there... cheers!
so you go over the tattoo 3 times in one sitting? ive never heard of this?

here we go again

I keep trying to update but it's not working. I went for the third R20 session on Wednesday. He has a new filter and he increased the intensity. The normal white film where the ink and laser react was now silver. Hey, I like silver jewelry. But he couldn't do the third pass, the hand was already swelling up and turning a red/purple colour. Hey, I like purple also. So off I went with just two passes under my belt, not as expensive this time, all wrapped up and out the door. Then the pain set in. Ouch, so I popped a few aleve and was good to go. Then the next day the depressed feelings came on, they are fierce, I do no like them. They are not my friend. But I know they will dissipate. And now it's Saturday morning, I'm feeling hopeful and positive again. It is hard to stay patient, it is hard to stay positive. A little bit of chocolate, my vice, always helps. I decided to treat myself to some new beaded bracelets, very iridescent beads with ohm charm on it. Once I'm all healed up I'll wear them and remember to be positive, patient and preserve with life. But now I'm just grateful to have this opportunity. aloha...k
Just stopping in to say hello, I know you are taking a break from your removal, and wanted to tell you that your support on the site is so valuable and I hope to see you in the community even though your not having removal in the near future. Happy New Year!!
hi, kahelelani. is your tattoo still fading even though you haven't had a treatment in over 3 months?
some days it's faded more than others...I think it depends on how I look at it and when creams I use. Moisturized skin looks more darker. I am staying positive and patient and won't do another zap session until next year, maybe next Christmas. I want to wait and let nature fade away. I've had ten treatments and don't regret any of it. aloha...k

January 2013: so what is up with my tattoo removal

Well there is absolutely nothing new to report with my laser experience. I am still determined to take a break as graduate school takes up so much of my time. And then I had to have root canal and the money for a laser session went to the dentist instead. But I'll end up with a crown! I am considering a laser session at the end of May, but we'll see how it goes $$$$ wise. The fading continues, sometimes I am amazed at what a little time and positive energy does. The ink doesn't bother me that much any more. Now, don't get me wrong, I still want it gone, but being patient has definitely paid off. I have had a few remarks on its fading and it's not as black and there are patches of skin poking through...hurray. I've had a few emails wondering where I have gone. I'm just staying positive, keeping patient and pushing on.
Glad to hear you're doing well. Would it be possible to see a photo of it now? Totally agree with the moisturising thing; mine looks so much darker. I've decided to leave the creams and oils for a whole to see how much better it looks!
So glad you took time to update us, happy that you are seeing continual fading :) Have you been snapping any photos you can share? 

Regret or shock?

I'm in the throws of graduate school (they kick your butt in order to earn that advanced degree, but so worth it). I have not had a session, and probably won't until May. The day after a session, I usually feel slightly depressed. Then I bounce back. And I can't deal with all that while writing papers, studying, preparing for exams....and all those wonderful things. I'll take a photo soon, I promise.
But it occurred to me that many here are full of regret, ink regret it's called. But many are in shock and this shock leads to depression. And then with laser, the depression begins to lift and then it's anxiety.
For many we've been living with ink that we really liked, but now have grown to not like it so much. The honeymoon is over. Those individuals react differently to those that have waited a long time and got fresh ink, which has only brought them sadness and shock. Those individuals, including myself, felt violated. Growing tired of something is far different from shock that replaces eager anticipation. But it's all ink regret, just a different variety.
I'm fortunate that I'm at peace with my ink regret. I have full trust in my laser technician, the process and the outcome. But I know that patience and a positive attitude have definitely helped.
And I know that I've been absent. I've been focusing on my professional training to be the world's best counselor and that all takes times....and money...so ink removal sessions are put on hold. And I'm okay with that. The fading continues, I see pink skin popping up through the grey faded ink. And I'm happy.
I hope that all of you out there find happiness. We all deserve to be happy.
K- thanks for the update. As always, very poetic and thoughtful. Keep on studying and striving towards your goals. Happy to hear the ink continues to fading.
Yes, I'll get some photos posted soon. I'm just so technically advanced as the rest of the world. camera batteries keep dying...I need to remember to turn it off when I'm done.

Light grey tattoo

Still saving the pennies up for the next laser go-round. Thought it was time for some pictures.
This gives me a lot of hope! I too have a dense black ink tattoo and unfortunately, it is brand new. However it is small and I have a consultation with a doctor whom uses Picosure. Your black fading is amazing!!
aloha rhinnhh, I am not doing the picosure, it's not available on the island where I live. I have the R20 (3 sessions in one day, separated by a rest of 20 minutes, hence the name R20). The doctor uses a alex trivantage (supposedly the Cadillac of lasers for removal), the last session was at 5.5 intensity. I space my sessions apart, the last was six months ago. A friend told me she spaced them a year apart and removal was done in 2 sessions. And of course, the lighting helps, this latest photo shows amazing fading because of the lighting. But I'll take that. And then of course I focus on other things in life. I didn't in the beginning though, I had sleepless nights, crying fits and depressed thoughts. But then I realized all of this was gonna take time and money and patience...and I'm in this for the long haul. Good luck with your removal, it's definitely worth it. aloha...k
You have had amazing fading! I too experience that post removal depression. Its terrible. Good luck with your schooling. I'm sure you will make an amazing counselor. I'm glad to see you're wearing pretty braclets to distract you from the ink. Keep us posted, and keep smiling!

Nothing new, just sending out best wishes

I went to O'ahu for a conference, which was fantastic. Thousands of counselors from all across the USA meeting and giving talks. I learned a lot about sand tray therapy and incorporating it into therapy for all ages. It was awesome. I thought I'd pop into the doctor who does the picosure as he was across the street from the convention centre (didn't know that before) but alas he was on vacation as it is school break. This means I'll have to head over another time...oh drat, that means another trip to Ala Moana Shopping Centre with 290 stores...[insert sarcastic smirk here]. But I'm staying positive and since I had such a lovely time, I am happy. Those that saw the ink all complimented and those who heard the story of its removal were supportive. Things will work out in the end, it simply does. And for those who are reading this and thinking "what has she been smoking?" "how can she be so positive?" there really is no other way to be. If I'm miserable, then my whole body aches and time stands still, but the ink is still there. If I'm positive and confident of its removal, the time flies by and I'm smiling. Good luck to everyone, spring is here and it's the dawn of re-birth, we all deserve to be happy. Let technology do its thing with the removal. aloha...k

R20 study

I also wanted to post about the R20 technique as I saw a doctor advise against it. You'll see from the clinical journal article that the technique is safe. I would recommend a personal, in-person consultation with a professional experienced in ink removal rather than posting a picture online and asking a doctor. Monitors do not always tell the story. I have not had any bad reactions from R20 and have had three of them. I have very sensitive skin and easily scar, but the laser is different. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036610
Hey K, so good to get an update from you and hear how you are doing. I'm so happy to see your updated pics and how light your ink has gotten! You must be so pleased. For sure give us an update when you talk to the doctor about PicoSure as this is one of the newest technologies for tattoo removal. As always, you are chin up and inspirational.
Love your update!!! So inspirational! 

we're here for support, not to offer professional advice

I was surprised to see another reviewer offer professional advice to a reviewer regarding the laser level. The reviewer suggested that the intensity should be higher. I looked into this reviewer's postings and saw that this individual suggesting a high intensity level had asked a doctor about residual redness following a higher intensity level session. I am a little surprised at the number of reviewers/contributors who offer advice that sounds professional when it really is only based on their experience. Reviewers should not be offering professional advice on a public forum. It would be best that posters/reviewers/members limit their postings to only their experience and supporting others through the removal process.
Hey there! I couldn't agree more with these reviewers offering their advice/harsh opinions in some cases. I'm glad someone finally said it!
a big Mahalo/thank you regretful99 for your support. I'm confident that everyone posting has only the best intentions but I do believe some reviewers have stepped over the boundary lines...I'm sure only in an effort to help. But I believe that only professionals working on our skin, in person, can give experienced opinions...and even then, the whole removal process is doubtful. It all depends on the ink (it's not regulated), the skill of the artisan, the skill of the technician removing the ink, our bodies, our immune systems, our mind over matter...and the list goes on. I so wish that there was a magic wand that I could wave over my regretted ink to have it disappear, then I'd share it with all of you. But it simply doesn't work like that...darn....I've hit rock bottom, bounced back up because of the support on here. That's what we should focus on...supporting each other. Good luck with your removal, regretful99, I need to check out any updates on your removal process. I hope it's going well. aloha...k
Just to let you know... Your post has been so helpful in grasping my emotional outbreaks for my tattoo regret. The way you handle yourself is inspiring. I've got a super heavy black piece on my arm and I know for a fact it will never be completely gone but it's worth going for a few years to hopefully get a coverup. Thanks for your story and your efforts in helping the community here. I'm new and I begin laser in june so you'll probably be hearing from me a bit. :)

oh no...the search for a new professional begins

Last night I opened up a letter that had been sent by the cosmetic clinic where I go for my laser removal. Albeit, I haven't been since Sept 2013, that was a choice I made myself. I'm still in this process, just taking it slowly as graduate school consumes most of my mental energy. The letter announced that the clinic was closing immediately. I won't bore you with the details of the ongoing investigation into the doctor. I can assure you that the technician I had working on blasting away this regretted ink was a top notch professional. Many professionals work out of the clinic. But now, I must find a new clinic...which won't be easy as this clinic was the only one on the island that offered laser tattoo removal. Over on O'ahu, there are many more...but this means a plane ride ($200 transportation at best) on top of the removal cost. The one thing I liked about the clinic was that it was a ten minute drive from our house. The cost was expensive, but we were managing. The one thing I don't like about this, is that I have no control over this decision to close the clinic. The one thing, we all need, or perhaps I should only speak for myself, is that we need to control something. We can't control the laser tattoo removal process, the success we can have, nor the healing process. Some things we simply can't control, we can't control our bodies at the molecular level...but at least I could control who I went to. At least I could schedule appointments. Now it seems, I am back to square one, finding a new professional to do the job. And again, I ask, where is that magic wand I've been looking for to wave over the ink regret. I guess I'll be scheduling a plane trip over to O'ahu as soon as I can possible fit it into my hectic schedule. sigh...
My housemate has a polynesian band on his forearm and I love it. It's strange because people seem to be set on "american' traditional. And that's where I've heard a lot of bad things is from people with traditional. At the same time i feel pain, I like to tell myself that we cannot advance as beings without breaking tradition. I loved your tattoo and I equally understand why it must go. I hope you're feeling at ease, though. Good luck.
This past week was Merrie Monarch, or the Olympics of Hula. I was sitting in the audience, surrounded by other people many who were sporting tattoos. I didn't notice my hand until I went to applaud. It is so faded now, I'm still pursuing full removal...might as well as go all the way. Thanks for thinking of me wilhughes. aloha...k
Ugh! I'm sorry to hear that your clinic closed. That has got to be frustrating. I wish you luck in finding a professional and a suitable travel situation that fits your budget. Keep your chin up! For me.. for us!

Ups and Downs

Well...well...well...this has been a week of ups and downs. First up, I went to Merrie Monarch, the Olympics of Hula, here on the island. It was an amazing time. The air was full of flowery scent. The birds were singing, the frogs were croaking. The dancers were amazing. I think my face still hurts from smiling so much. I was in the audience full of thousands of people, clapping our hands, cheering. I forgot all about the tattoo, the ink regret on my hand. There are times where it is okay...and then there are times, when I want it off...NOW!!! So let's go forward a few days, I'm interviewing at a practicum site. I'm thinking it's going great...and then the question, "would I consider covering the tattoo up?" And you know, my response kind of surprised both the interviewer and myself. I said "No, this is evidence that I'm not perfect, that I'm human. I made a mistake. I'm in the process of tattoo removal. It's slow. The clinic where I usually go has closed, so I'll be traveling to O'ahu for future treatments. But this shows me, shows others, that mistakes happen. It's how we react to it that counts. I'm doing something about it." Well, I didn't get the job...but that's okay. I'm still here, still sharing both the ups and the downs. I'm still smiling. Life goes on...we all go on...we're tough, we're determined, we're here.
The Olympics of Hula sound like a wonderful time, glad you enjoyed it! I admire your response when you declined to cover your tattoo, that takes courage - good for you. 

let the consultations begin...

As most of you know, the clinic where I was going for laser removal has closed. Now I'm looking at other places and would like those here on the forum offer their experience with lasers. The clinic where I was going used the Alex Trivantage. Another place I'm considering using the q-switch...and then there's the picosure...and then...and then...my head is spinning. What laser are you using?
I just want to reaffirm that you should be trusting the professional that you are seeing for advice on what laser to use and not the opinion of any of us here.
Hey. I would echo JfromPA's comment below, it could well be that you would benefit from a change in the wavelength. The Picosure operates at 755nm, which could potentially get things moving again, but I'm also not completely sold on its efficacy. Even if you change to another QS Yag, at 1064nm it could well be that a different model of laser, configured differently and with a different power output could be just what's needed to 'shock' the ink, in case it found itself getting comfortable with your last couple of treatments. All the best and let us know what you decide :)
K do you know if you have been treated with the 1064 wavelength setting on AlexTri for all of your removal? I'm not a Picosure/sliced bread person, there just isn't enough evidence out there to support all the claims, except for some specific colors. But if you have only been treated with the 1064; then I'm starting to wonder if your ink hasn't decomposed into a composition that is better suited to a try with a different wavelength. If that's the case, adding in the factors that you might have to travel far, and it might be a while until the next one...I think Picosure would in that scenario be a good option to consider. But I know no matter what, you'll make a good decision for yourself.

Gratitude and Respect to all

I have had some wonderful supportive private messages and some private messages asking for help. I am always here for all of you, as so many other members are here. I am honoured that you have reached out to me, your words are very important, your feelings are special. Don't hesitate to keep sending me those messages, but sharing is part of this whole process.

I want to address particularly the depressive feelings that accompany this whole process. I, for one, could do without those feelings, but they are part of the package deal. And that sucks, but we are humans, we make mistakes, and we often feel for those mistakes. One thing to remember is that as we move forward with the process the feelings often diminish, but we will always remember those feelings. We will move forward with grace and dignity, often we won't necessarily feel like that, but we will move forward.

I will freely admit that I receive professional counseling for the horrible negative thoughts that accompany this process in the beginning. We do this to ourselves and then sit in horror at what we have done. We are our own worst enemy and we are our own victims. I needed an outside professional helping me through those dark days...and I emerged and I am truly thankful for that wonderful, patient counselor I had.

I am sending out only good thoughts to all of you out there, at whatever stage you are at in this process, together we will get through this.
You are so uplifting! Your mindset seems so beautiful. I hear that is how the Hawaii state of mind usually is... It tends to be much different here in New York. I hope one day to visit Hawaii. Good luck with your journey!
Yes, regretfulfawn, the mindset in Hawai'i is full of aloha/love and acceptance...but a lot of my mindset comes also from following the words of the Dalai Lama. I am blessed to live in a beautiful place full of supportive people, and I am blessed to have a supportive husband and family. It only seems natural to share that love with everyone else. Hawai'i is a magnificent place, best place that I've lived in, and I hope one day you will be able to visit. Good luck with your journey also, and remember we are all here to support and share with you. aloha...k
K my beautifully strong friend... Your tattoo looks so faded!!! I am so incredibly happy for you... I know I kind of hid from here for a while but I had a lot of self learning to do... You are so inspriational and gorgeous by the way... Now I know you said it before but remind me how the silicone sheets work? I have some scarring (raised lines) from placement since the artist did dig kind of deep, I'm wondering if I should start something to treat that. -B

Ten months post last laser session

I was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and thinking. These past few weeks have been a challenge. I lost a beloved companion and her death has been a challenge but also a chance to reflect on our wonderful life together. I went through the denial, the anger, the depression and the light is now shining. Graduate school has also kept me from laser sessions, that and the clinic closing. But when one door closes, another opens. I am pleased that I will continue working with people overcoming challenges in their lives (substance addiction). I am also excited to start working with hospice. All of these people will be facing decisions in life...and I'm excited to join them on their journey. I see so many new "faces" here on the forum, people looking for hope (you've come to the right place), people looking for answers and people looking for support. This is the place to be. It's important to know that the ink does not define you, but it's far more important to come to that conclusion on your own. And you will, once you've gone through the emotions that overtake us. Take the power (the power of you) back when you're ready. Yes, the tattoo is only ink, and not a definition of who we are. Staying positive is the best way to be. It may be hard at times, but life can be a challenge at times. We allow the suffering, but we can also welcome the positive aspects. I stopped lasering ten months ago, I might start up again when I feel like it. But for now I am enjoying life, focusing on positive things. Good luck to you all on this journey of restoration. It takes time, but you are so worth it. aloha...k
Where did you find your silicone scar sheets?
aloha xraygirl, I bought them from Walmart in the pharmacy section, with bandages and other scar products. You can also find them on Amazon. aloha...k
Sorry for your loss, but I am glad that you always find a way to see the bright side of things. Glad you are well!

Barbiedoll90's 100 days of happiness

**this is in response to Barbiedoll90's 100 days of happiness**
It's been almost a year since I had my tenth laser session. I'm not sure when I will have more done, the ink is still there, only faded, and many people don't notice it. I may continue, I may not. But this past summer a midst the intense study, my beloved's sudden passing, and finding placement to collect clinical hours, I was asked to offer a hula at my friend's wedding. I selected a song that details the story of a woman much loved who travels across the island to be with her beloved. I did not know that it was the groom's favourite song. I didn't think about anything except that I was so happy to offer this, to a couple starting out on their journey together. I was so happy that my husband was able to come with me to the wedding. I was so happy that despite hurricane Iselle we were all safe. I was happy, and as you can see from the picture my ink regret was far from my mind. I've come a long way since that fateful day two years ago as the artist was bandaging up my hand and I thought "well this is gonna have to come off". I have a wonderful life here in beautiful paradise, loving people surround me, I am safe, and yes, I am happy. I wish everyone on this site eternal happiness, some days it may be hard to see, but it's there. The ink does not define you, everyone will say this, you may not believe it at this moment, but hopefully soon you will. The ink no longer defines me, nor does it direct when I can be happy. I am in command. aloha...k

@K I saw your post on 100 days of happiness and had to see the pic you uploaded. What a beautiful photo and capture of a moment in time. Amazing how happiness breeds happiness!
Beautiful update, thank you for sharing and so glad you are happy - very inspiring.

Patience has been so helpful

I just posted on the "100 days of happiness" that Barbiedoll90 started, I posted about patience. I am grateful for patience, I may not always achieve it, I'm not a saint after all...but I strive for patience. This past weekend, I ran into the laser technician at the clinic where I used to go. He told me that a new doctor has taken over the equipment, the office space, and will be up and running by December. Which is when I was planning the next session anyways. This also means I don't have to fly to O'ahu, which is fabulous, as I did not want to start the exploration of finding a new clinic, experimenting with new equipment, and the hassles of flying ( I often retain water and I can't imagine that would be good for the removal process). So perhaps patience has been more helpful than I originally thought. The fading continues, and I am still here, still pursuing as much fading as I can get. With patience (and the new good doctor) I might be able to achieve some wonderful results. I'm hanging in there, and I'm sending out good thoughts to all of you that are hanging in there. It's going to get better.
Yes, grateful for patience. Namaste!
That is awesome news!!! Amazing how things just fall into place :)
Yes, Alicia, Happiness is contagious.
John Stover MD, Bayardo Aviles MHA

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