Mid 30s and Going Through Tattoo Removal with a Side of Depression - Manila, PH

You'd think being in your 30s you'd be a lot wiser...

You'd think being in your 30s you'd be a lot wiser in making decisions especially when it comes to something as permanent as a tattoo but not in my case. I'm 35 years old and recently got a forearm tattoo a couple of months back. I did enjoy it for probably a month after I'd gotten it but just out of the blue, I felt regret and looked at the tattoo like a foreign object on my arm. I now hate even looking at myself in the mirror because I would see that tattoo which I now see as something dirty. How I wish I wish I could turn back time. From those moments of regret I went into depression and would also get extreme anxiety attacks. Like why did I do this to myself? I do see a psychiatrist and take meds to manage my emotions but I realized just a couple of weeks ago that the solution is laser tattoo removal. I mean this is the reason why this kind of technology exists right? So I started doing research on clinics within my area and was overjoyed when I found out that they had the Revlite which I researched about and is supposed to be one of the good lasers out right now. So I booked an appointment with a doctor, got an estimate on price and number of sessions, and had my first session last week.

Last week's session led me to to post on the forum section asking if my doctor undertreated my tattoo as I hardly felt anything, saw no frosting, and hardly see any changes like scabbing, blistering, pain or even fading and I paid a lot of money for that session. So I went to another reputable doctor who aslo has the revlite and she somewhat agreed that the previous doctor undertreated my tattoo because there still should be some scabs and what not a week after treatment and mine looks like it's never been treated before. I'm now scheduled to have a treatment with this new doctor next month and from my conversation with her, I know she knows this machine more than the previous doctor and she's even slightly cheaper. She also has the Revlite handpiece that will be able to target the blue areas of my tattoo. The other clinic doesn't have that so either way i'd have to go somewhere else to treat the blue.

The picture I attached is that of my tattoo 1 week after that super mild revlite treatment. I noticed a slight darkening of my tattoo (it even looks sepia right now) because of my treatment and some fading in the shading but that's it. Honestly, i'm feeling discouraged with this result but hopefully my second treatment will bring back my faith in this whole process. It's not a joke shelling out so much money and getting minimal results. I want a doctor who's after my best interest and not profit and who I know is knowledgable about this machine. Will make an update later on.
Thank you for sharing your story on here. I'm a bit of a 'lurker' as i havent yet been brave enough to add my own story- but it paralells your own nearly perfectly. I hope that starting your journey on removal leads to success and more importantly restores your self-concept and confidence. I look forward to your updates, and positive progress.
Thanks Nev! Restoring my self concept and confidence is definitely what I long for and I hope to have my old self back as my treatments progress. I really hope for a very positive outcome and will be posting regularly. I'm glad I found this online community and have found people who are experiencing the same thing as I am...It makes me feel less alone in this journey and I now feel like I have people cheering me on as I go through this.
I second Eva's comments. I was 43 when I got my first tattoo. Four years later, I'm still trying to get it removed. The biggest lesson I've learned is self-compassion. Hang in there!

Just had another bout of anxiety

Things were a little better for me emotionally during the weekend having done some fun activities with my husband and kids which distracted me a little bit from this whole tattoo nightmare. I did however, experience another bout of anxiety because of this overseas trip I'm going to in a few months to visit relatives I haven't seen since last year. They don't know that I got a tattoo but I know they're going to see it somehow and I want to avoid them asking me why I got it or what it means or even get any attention over it at all. But I also don't want to show them that I'm trying to avoid their attention towards my tattoo or give any hints that I regret getting it because it's embarassing to me. You just got it and now you want it removed? Why? I might be forced to act like I love my tattoo or am proud of my decision to get one just to mask the pain of regret and avoid any further judgments. Just the thought of this potential experience gave me an anxiety attack today. It's affecting me so much that I lost my excitement over this trip and even don't want to go anymore. I think I'm going nuts.
Ahhh, the classic forearm tattoo. And the age factor. I'm only 29, but with all that I've been through, I feel just as stupid as ever. My tattoo is also a nice size (6" x 4"), and by nice I mean the worst thing I've ever seen on somebody's forearm. I have several family functions coming up, which also is giving me extreme anxiety. They always made comments about my tattoos, but I defended them proudly because I loved them and they meant something. Well not this time, and like you, I'm afraid that I will have to act like I like it just to keep my dignity. Well why did you get it then? Did you not see it as he was doing it? Did you not realize it was permanent? These are questions I ask myself everyday, so I definitely don't need their crap too. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone and your feelings are completely understandable. Stay strong and be patient. We will get through this!
Those are my exact feelings Schoolboy! Like I already feel crap for getting this tattoo and don't want to hear anymore crap from nosy and judgmental relatives. Thank you for your comments and it's comforting to know that I'm not alone in this.
I just covered my tattoo with makeup when my parents came to visit. This video, which Eva G has linked on some other forums, was very helpful. I have no experience with makeup but I had my girlfriend help me with it and my tattoo was completely covered. You would not be able to tell it was there unless you got very very close to the skin. Took some stress off my mind. Hope the video helps you and the anxiety! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K_L4EaFLrc

2 weeks since first treatment with Revlite

My tattoo looks a little scaly because of the formation of dead skin and I see some parts shedding. As for fading, I don't see any significant changes to the tattoo which is disappointing to say the least. Hope to see some fading in the weeks to come. I'm also thinking of moving my 2nd treatment to August 15 instead July 18 which will make it about 8 weeks since my first treatment. Eventhough my 1st treatment was super mild, I still want it spaced that way just to make sure my skin is fully healed and to get the most out of the first treatment no matter how mild it was. We'll see.
It's a long process. Don't worry, it will fade. We're making the treatments about at the same pace, so it seems (mine are spaced about 7-8 weeks apart as well), so we'll have each other to get some positive comments and encouragements. As for family, mine doesn't know (except my husband) and I keep it hidden. Since it is on my upper arm, it is easier, even though I nevertheless have to wear mid-sleeves since the classic t-shirt doesn't cover the bottom of my tattoo. I found that for me, it was simpler to just hide it than to face comments, questions and critics. Also, I don't want to involve my child in this as of now. Maybe when the process is over, I can share it at some point with a few people, but not now. Not strong enough yet.
I understand what you mean mpq. The only person who knows about my laser removal is my husband and of course the people on this site. I'm too embarassed and like you, not strong enough yet to share my regrets to others for fear of being judged or criticized for something I already feel so bad about.
I have a tattoo on my lower leg pretty similar to yours (except i have some white instead of blue), i will also be going to a place that uses the Revlite! Stay strong, we'll get through this!

Just wanted to add more photos (19 days post 1st Revlite treatment)

My tattoo doesn't look as vibrant or maybe it's just my mind playing tricks on me coz it wants desperately to see changes. But I just thought of taking close up pics of it so I could at least see the progress. Some of the shading surrounding the words turned brown and I see a little breaking of the ink in some parts of the flower's petals and the middle part of the flower. Hope to see more fading soon!
Fingers crossed for you!
Thanks Eva! :-)
I can definitely see some fading. It can be tough to notice in parts because instead of discoloration, or line breaking, it's just less inpregnanted with ink. I can see some ink removal though. All the best and hang in there.

Last look before my 2nd treatment...

I'm going to the doctor this afternoon to have my second treatment done and I can't wait for it to be over! Thankfully, the clinic is just a few minutes drive from my place and I plan to be there at least 2 hours before the procedure so the numbing cream will really penetrate my skin. I hope with this new doctor, I'll be more satisfied with her handling of the machine and of course see better results. She was confident enough to say that with just 5 treatments, my tattoo will be really light (about 70-80% faded) and hopefully indistinguishable when looked at from afar. I'll make an update on what settings she used but from my last conversation with her she'll be using the 6mm spot size and 10hz. Definitely a lot stronger than my first treatment which is making me both anxious and excited! I'm not sure if she's already going to use the Revlite 585nm handpiece that targets the light blue ink but I hope so so during each visit, something changes! I have a list of questions for her one would be if the sky blue ink, despite having the handpiece to target just that specific color, can really be successfully removed. I don't want to be left with blue freckles on my arm. Anyway, I'm rambling. Will post an update days after the treatment.

2nd treatment done!

Finally it's over. My tattoo is so swollen and red right now which the pictures don't show at all due to bad lighting, This was definitely a much stronger treatment than before -- settings were stronger and over reaction of my skin was unlike my first treatment. I feel this time there will be some progress.

First the pre-treat was awesome. i was so relaxed because I took my doctor's prescribed Xanor 2 hours before the treatment so I entered the clinic not feeling anxious at all...just ready and excited for what's to come. It was interesting because the assistant applied 2 kinds of numbing cream to my tattoo and she was I think overly cautious to let it stay on my skin for too long because she kept on saying that she'll remove it after 30 mins to let my skin breathe then re-apply again which didn't make sense to me. I guess they've had patients who've had adverse reactions to emla so they were just taking precautions. When she removed the emla, she applied another kind of numbing cream called BLT (20, 6, 4) which I can say is such an awesome cream! They import it all the way from Singapore and ut numbed my tattoo in less than 10 minutes! It had a more toothpastey consistency compared to emla which is more like lotion. I attached a photo of this awesome cream above. The assistant also made me take 500 mg of mefanamic acid 40 mins before the treatment to reduce pain and swelling after I guess?

Anyway, the treatment itself was everything I had expected. The doctor was really nice, made me feel at ease, and the procedure itself was very different from before. I saw frosting which is always a good sign! Just for added information to those using the Revlite, my settings were 1064nm, 6mm spot size, 3.0 j/cm, 10 Hz. I'm really so satisfied with this 2nd treatment that I can't wait to see the changes in the coming weeks. Oh and the pain of the treatment was nothing...getting the tattoo itself hurt more for sure.

I asked the doctor about the sky blue ink on my tattoo and she said that the 1064nm does target the blue during each treatment and once the black significantly lightens already and there's still residual blue ink, that's when she'll use the 585nm handpiece to treat the blue and by then her rate per treatment will be much lower.

Regarding aftercare, they gave me a beta + gentamycin cream which I should apply to the tattoo 2x a day for 3 days. The doc also prescribed Prednisone 5mg which I'm assuming is an antibiotic which I should take 3x a day for 3 days.

Well that's all for now! Will post more pics in the days/weeks to come and hopefully you all will notice changes! Crossing my fingers.
wow how is your removal not painful? mine hurt 10x more than getting the tattoo even with numbing cream! my second treatment was also more painful than the first, and i am dreading future treatments because i don't know how much more i will be able to endure. anyway, i think you will have good results cos your tattoo is not that dark, and the Revlite is a good laser..
Hi saskamiri! I know I was pretty surprised with myself and feel lucky to not have felt much discomfort during the procedure. Even my doctor praised me for my high pain threshold as I was very chatty during the procedure lol. I'm sorry that you're experiencing so much pain during your treatments and I hope that it will get better...please hang in there! I think part of the reason why I felt little discomfort was how the laser beams penetrated my skin. The whole process was just like a quick airbrushing of laser energy to the skin so there was really no beams that lingered for too long on a specific area of my tattoo that would make me dwell on it and wince in pain. I hope my future procedures will stay like this though...we'll never know. Best of luck with your tattoo removal journey.
my doctor praised me too for not dying despite the pain haha! hmm maybe the Revlite machine is really heaps better, the way my laser machine works was by shooting dots of laser onto the skin so i could feel each hit, and my tattoo is a large area so that really started to hurt! at some parts where my skin was weaker there were even loud popping noises :/ my doctor said she already used a low setting to try and prevent scarring.. but i just dont know!

1 week post 2nd treatment and feeling down

I just thought of making an update as it's been exactly a week since my 2nd treatment. After making side by side comparison pics of my tattoos before and after the 2nd treatment, I do notice some changes already especially in the shading of the flower and some of the letterings. Pretty exciting results but still, can't help but get overwhelmed with self-loathing and regret again for having done this to myself and making myself go through a very lengthy process with still uncertain results. Just this morning, my friend tagged me on a photo on FB which was of me and my family in a party where I was wearing a short-sleeved blouse with my forearm tattoo on show. It was a pretty picture but couldn't get my eyes off the tattoo like it would have been a perfect picture if that stain wasn't on my arm. Sigh...yup this is one of those days again.

Better photo

I'm also getting my tattoo removed... are you serious that it's $2,500? P108,200.00 per session or for the entire course of the treatment? Just wait it out... be patient. Depression is normal but the laser is working. Keep looking up.
This is for the entire course of the treatment about 10 sessions. My doctor estimated fewer sessions than 10 (around 6) but I'm a realist so brought it up to 10. Are you in Manila too? If so, what clinic do you go to?
Oh alright. Yes, I am. I went to Skin Laser Manila in Ortigas -- Dr. Rhesa Martinez. So each session costs P10,820?

Just making the usual update (2 weeks post treatment 2)

I see some changes to my tattoo which I hope are seen in my comparison pics. I see some of the lines breaking, the shading lightening and the lettering turning brown in some areas. My skin just started to peel today even though I've been religious in putting Bio Oil to the area. I'm pretty disappointed with the blue ink now as it's pretty apparent to me that it's resistant to the 1064nm wavelength and I think my doctor should start treating it with the 585nm handpiece if it has any hopes of catching up with the black fading. I've also been taking a lot of supplements (too much according to my husband LOL) like spirulina, green tea extract, advanced antioxidant complex, wild oregano oil, 1,3 beta glucans, l-arginine, vitamin D and a multivitamin tab. I also bought a massager and have started massaging the area just to stimulate blood circulation. Hope all of this will help the fading. Next treatment will be August 29. I know I mentioned that I'd wait 4 months from treatment 2 but couldn't resist inserting a 3rd treatment before I leave for my trip overseas this October. Just want this thing off me!
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