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My journey to erase a big, ugly mistake. We may not have time machines, but at least we have lasers. - Detroit, MI

Let me start by saying that I have several...

Let me start by saying that I have several tattoos, including a half-sleeve and a large tattoo on the opposite arm. I love all my other work and show them off with pride. For the past five years, I've thought about getting a black panther tattoo on my outer left thigh (there's a story behind getting a panther, but I won't go into that). Last February at a local tattoo convention, I ran into the artist who did my half-sleeve and mentioned my idea for a black panther tattoo. He told me he could definitely draw me up a great panther that would compliment the style of my other work... so I made an appointment for March 22, 2013. His drawing was vague, but since I like the work he did on my arm, I trusted him. The moment I saw the finished piece, I hated it immediately, but thought I was maybe in a state of shock (it's my largest tattoo to date) and it would grow on me. It hasn't. I'm ashamed of it, I cry when I look at it, I'm embarrassed, etc. My only thought when I look at it is - "I want it off my body." So I immediately made an appointment for a laser removal consultation. The very nice esthetician asked what I don't like about it, said she thought it was a good tattoo, and asked if I considered talking to another artist about getting it reworked. It's so huge, that hadn't occurred to me. Determined to exhaust all options, I scheduled a consultation with one of the area's most reputable artists. I asked him if I had it shot with a laser a few times to get most of it removed, if he could do a cover-up piece in it's place. He said doing that would cause scarring and change the texture of the skin... therefore he would not want to tattoo the lasered area. Alternatively, he said he could rework the panther a little, fix the flaws, etc., but suggested the best solution would be to "eclipse" it in in a larger piece. He recommended doing pieces on either side of it and bringing it up to my torso with additional pieces then completing it with a background. He is an amazing artist and he specializes in large pieces, I'm just not sure how I'll feel about a huge tattoo AND the panther letting the panther stay on my body. He has a six-month wait list so I left $100 deposit and scheduled an appointment for October 12th... thinking it would give me some time to decide what I want to do. Based on what the tattoo artist and esthetician both told me, it doesn't seem like my tattoo will ever completely be removed. I was hoping I could get something done to hide the leftover ink, but that doesn't seem to be an option either. I'm going to make an appointment for another laser removal consultation with different company, but after finding this website, thought it was worth posting to see if anyone has considered removal and cover-up and what your experience has been?

Well, I had my consultation for removal with the...

Well, I had my consultation for removal with the new Picosure laser. $4200 for complete removal or $800 per session. The current Medlite laser was quoted at $300 per session or $2300 for a 12 session package. I still have two more consultations (not Picosure) with other clinics, but at this point, I don't think I can bring myself to accrue $4200 of debt to remove a tattoo. I do want a cover-up, so the tattoo doesn't need to be removed completely, but the Picosure is so new, the esthetician could not provide an estimate on how many treatments it would take. If I knew it could be done in 3 treatments, I'd consider it, but I really can't afford $4200 for the package. Smeh.

After three consultations with laser removal...

After three consultations with laser removal clinics and consultations with several well-known tattoo artists, I've decided to have the tattoo lightened enough for a cover-up. I met a new friend in my kickboxing class who is very tattooed and it turned out her boyfriend recently had a one year-old tattoo removed that covered his entire back. He had a lot of success with it and is now in the process of getting the remainder of the tattoo covered with new work. She referred me to his esthetician and I was quoted $250 per session using the Q-Switched laser and she said she could likely lighten it enough in 3-4 sessions, but recommended waiting 8 weeks between sessions for the most success. My friend's boyfriend's tattoo was almost completely gone in 5 sessions, so I'm hoping I have similar success. My tattoo is still healing... I'll probably be going for my first session in about a month. I'm terrified of the pain and blistering, but I already have some lidocaine ready and waiting. By the way, for those going in for their first session, my friend told me it helps to put a thick layer of lidocaine on the tattoo about an hour and half before the session and wrap it in plastic wrap until I get to the shop. If anyone reading this has any other suggestions on alleviating the pain and/or healing process, please let me know! Thank you!!!!

First session tomorrow! Yikes!

My first removal session is 6:00pm tomorrow. Admittedly, I'm freaked out about the pain and wondering if anyone could recommend an OTC lidocaine cream? My jerk doctor wouldn't call in a prescription. Also, wondering if it's it customary to tip the laser removal technician? Using a tech that works out of a tattoo shop... sounds strange, but I know two people that have had excellent results using this technician. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Four days after my first session...

I will post a pic once I see progress from my first session, but I thought I'd post an update for anyone new to the process (like me).

The procedure itself wasn't nearly as painful as I anticipated. Due to the size of my tattoo, it took about 15 minutes (no breaks). The technician was very nice and held conversation with me while she was doing it... I think that helped. What I really haven't liked is the healing in the days since the procedure. It immediately formed many blood blisters on various parts of the piece and within a couple of days, the entire thing was bruised. Today is the fourth day of healing and most of the blisters are still there, but are slowly leaking on their own... so I'm wearing black dresses to work and patting the blood spots with tissue throughout the day. Sore and disgusting. :-( Fading doesn't occur for several weeks after a treatment, so right now it's especially depressing to see a bloody, bruised leg with no progress. I'm sure I'll be fine in a few days, but I wanted to share my initial experience. Aaaack!

First post-laser photo

American Pride Tattoo

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Comments (62)

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Hey there, checking in to see how you are making out with your removal, have you gone for anymore treatments? Hope things are well!


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Hi, Thanks for your blog, find it so re-assuring to know i'm not the only one in such a predicament! I've recently started a big polynesian style tribal on the outside of my arm, since getting parts of it filled in i'm already hating it and can't get used to it... I want to get it completely removed but realistically i think that's unlikely as I have asian skin and considering the size/how new it is! One thing you mentioned that caught my eye though was the fact your tattoo artist said he wouldn't like to tattoo over the lasered area - is this true?! I spoke to an artist about the work i've already had done and he actually recommended getting it blasted with a laser then starting over... I think this is the most viable option, will have to go for picosure but shame its so expensive! Thanks Carlo
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Hello Carlo - I only talked to two artists who wouldn't tattoo over the lasered area. I was referred to an artist by a friend who will be doing a cover-up for me and has no issue with recommending a few laser sessions then tattooing over the area. Now that I've talked to him, I'm thinking ego was the primary reason the first two artists didn't want to work on the area. I've had my second session now (will post new pics soon) and it's slow... very, very slow. Getting tribal removed would require several sessions. Unless you really don't want a tattoo on your arm, I recommend the cover-up route. Best of luck! - Lori
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See!! There is hope :)
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Yes... definitely hope... just going to require plenty of patience. Thank you for the comment. :-)
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See!! There is hope :)
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There is fading! Nice! You're going to have wonderful results!
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your picture post five days looks great.  It looks like you are healing well and there is some fading.  There'll be more fading as the weeks go by.  It's a challenge some days to keep happy and keep positive but it'll be worth it in the end.  Good luck, thanks for sharing, it all looks good.  aloha...k
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Thanks! I can't wait to see the fading in the coming months. I'm pleased that I saw anything so early in the process. Definitely an interesting journey.
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I imagine it isn't any worse than the feelings and regret I have with my tattoos. Some days I'm okay with them, other days they are ALL I think about. I wish I was already getting laser treatment!
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I've mentioned this on my posting review, the day of the laser session I feel ecstatic full of hope and positive feelings that the laser will blast away the offending ink. Then the next day as I bandage the area I'm full of "woe is me" thoughts wondering what I've gotten myself into. It's all part of the healing and the battering of the body and psyche. Now nine weeks post session (I'm having the R20 and waiting three or four months between) I have my good days and my bad days. Today was a bad day wondering when this thing is going to leave me (with my luck it won't...there I go again with the negative feelings). I've seen bruises, blood blisters and scabs and then I do it all over again. I feel like a masochist (do I have that right?) putting myself and my wallet through this torture. I'm so looking forward to the sweet reward in the end for all this trouble. Good Luck with the fading. aloha...k
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Thank you for the comment. You echoed exactly how I feel. I do feel like a masochist! And I keep thinking of all the fun things (vacation!) I could be doing with the money instead. Thankfully, I just want it lightened enough for a cover-up... otherwise, this would take years. Good luck with your fading also. At least we're not alone!
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I had my first picosure treatment today in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Great office, very friendly. I'd be happy to post photos as I move along this process. I must say...it hurt! More than I was expecting. Thank goodness it was quick. And I guess it's my price to pay to get of this thing...
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They say you dont really see any difference for at least 3 laser treatments so try not to get depressed!
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Yes, I agree with you MomofTwoBoys, my Clinic told me 3 treatments before seeing a difference. I've had one treatment and after the light scabbing healed that the tattoo perhaps looks less shiny than it did before (it was only 4 months old when I got the first zap). You definitely need to be patient and that's the hardest part of this whole experience.
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Yes, patience and not being able to put on pants are the worst parts for me. ;-)
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lostspyder i have been following this post and am curious if you are definitely going to get it removed? My tattoo is a hideous tribal piece on my lower back with a butterfly and i hate it. I want to get it removed but i am so scared i will spend all that money and it wont work. I want to lighten it as much as i can and then get just a butterfly in its place.
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hi there... not sure how i missed this comment a few days ago, but i was referred to a laser technician by a friend of mine. he was able to remove the majority of a 1 year-old full back tattoo in 5 treatments by this technician. it does work. seeing the photos of his progress and now seeing his cover-up work gave me a lot of hope. she thinks she might be able to make it light enough for a cover-up in 3 treatments (depending on the cover-up i choose). she did recommend waiting 8 weeks between sessions for maximum benefit. a laser tech who tells you to come every 4 weeks is wasting your money because the process takes 7-8 weeks to carry away ink particles. if you want to cover it after a few treatments, i recommend finding a quality artist from the start. i had a couple artists tell me they don't like working over lasered skin. the same friend who had his back redone referred me to his artist so i'll be working with him to determine when it's light enough to cover.
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I might end up getting Lillies or a cherry blossom tree or something in its place . I know there will be left over ink but I don't mind having a tattoo, I have 4 of them. I just don't like the tattoo I have lol The people at the laser place seemed more positive when I said I only wanted to lighten it greatly to cover it up. The way it looks now (my profile pic) nothing can be done. It's an eye sore :( I think following stories like yours on this website will really give me the confidence I need to go do it eventually. I'd definitely wait at least 6-8 weeks between treatments to get the most for my money, I'm in no hurry. I've had this this since I was 18 and I'm 31 now so even just thinking about removing it has calmed me down a bit. Thanks for the reply!
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In the 10 sessions I have done (8 with a dermatologist and 2 so far with a laser tech at a different practice) I have never received any recommendation for any pain cream. Actually at the dermatologist I didn't get any googles to wear, any cool air while it was being lasered. So the fact that I get the cool air on the area being removed is wonderful at this new location. As far as tipping - it has never occurred to me, until you have mentioned this now, to even think about it. I certainly wouldn't have with the first office because he was a dermatologist. The 2nd place I have been going to is a laser tech but no I don't feel a need to tip her. I'll be interested to hear if others do differently.
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I wouldn't tip. You're paying enough!
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Thanks... yes... I didn't tip.
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I was given a quote of $4200 until gone by one of your estechticians a couple weeks ago at your Sterling Hts location.
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Lostspyder, this post of yours cracked me up.
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