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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