A tattoo I've wanted ended up being a tattoo I'd rather forget.

We all have a story of how we got to the point of tattoo regret...

Hi guys! We all have a story of how we got to the point of tattoo regret and/or removal, and well, here's mine:

After years of wanting a tattoo but fearing the commitment/pain that comes with getting one, I decided to finally suck it up and get inked! I knew exactly what I wanted because I've been talking about it for as long as I could remember... An anchor to honor my grandfather who was in the Navy. I also wanted to "mark" my body to commemorate a new chapter in my life after a drastic weight loss and lifestyle revamp.

Despite being recommended several tattoo shops in NYC, I thought it would be exciting to get the tattoo while I was on a weekend getaway (Mistake #1), so I found a tattoo shop nearby with pretty good reviews, and just like that, found myself there on January 23rd.

I had finally settled on the anchor design that I wanted and was ready for that needle to hit my skin.
The tattooist recommended I go slightly bigger on the design so the detail in the rope would be visible, which made me quickly rethink the placement I originally wanted (Mistake #2). Instead of getting it a couple of inches above my wrist, I decided to get it right below the crease of my forearm.

After he was done tattooing the outline, I actually really liked the way it looked and decided to not fill it in.

I wasn't too thrilled about the placement I chose, but I was willing to look passed it because I was just so excited.

A week went by, my excitement wore off and I started to observe the tattoo more clearly... And, that's when I realized it was asymmetrical and the placement of it was actually not something I was able to look passed.

The friends I showed it to did not think it was all that bad (I'm sure to them, I was just being overly dramatic), but it didn't matter... It was on MY body staring right back at me. I don't want a tattoo to knock down the confidence and self-esteem I worked so hard on regaining this past year... and that's exactly what it is doing.

So, once the tattoo fully healed, I decided to go to a different tattoo artist to try and salvage it.

And as I was sitting there, in the spur of the moment, I asked him to extend the rope and add a RED HEART to the bottom of it to add some "character" to the piece (Mistake #3).

I left the shop unsure of the outcome. On one hand, the artist did a decent job covering the asymmetry as best he could... On the other hand, the extended rope and heart looked completely inconsistent with the rest of the tattoo.

I thought about adding a black outline around the heart to try to make it look better, but how many more times can I possibly retouch this tattoo in hopes that I'll grow to like it?

I can't move it down a few inches, so what's the point in trying to "fix" the look when I can't even fix the placement?

I've become neurotic about it... self-conscious about it... And I'm even losing sleep over it. I spend HOURS scouring the internet looking at other anchor tattoos to try to reassure myself that mine isn't "all that bad," but it's hard to change how I feel.

In a nutshell, the tattoo that I wanted and the tattoo that I got are two different things. Looking at it only makes me think of all of the "what if's" that I can't do anything about.

I'm EMBARRASSED that the tattoo that I've been talking about for years ended up nowhere near the way I had envisioned it. I'm ashamed to admit this to my family, the person I was with when I got the tattoo, and to the rest of my friends.

So, with my mind set, I booked a consultation with Jessica Krant in NYC to see about possibly getting picosure to start fading this sucker... I'm not sure if I'm going to tell anyone about this until I have my first treatment, but I know that I want to get 1-2 treatments before the summer and use the summer to work on naturally fading it.

My current dilemmas are:

1) Do I get an outline around the heart before starting treatment in my last attempt to try to make it look better, or stop adding on to it? Even though I'm certain I want this thing zapped, I'd rather "complete" the tattoo before starting treatment so I can be less self conscious when/if it's out in the open in between sessions.

2) Do I aim for a complete removal, or just fade it for a cover up? Placement is a big factor in why I regret my tattoo... Would I really like something else in its place? I'm just antsy to get rid of it.

Anyways, I'll keep you all posted on what I decide to do, but in the meantime, I THANK YOU for reading my story and telling yours. I'll be a regular on these boards for the next few months, so please do not be a stranger -- drop a note to say hello and reassure me that I'm not alone :)

Close Up of Tattoo

I know it's not a TERRIBLE tattoo by any means (and I'm sure so many would rather have my tattoo than the one they currently have), but it's just not me and it's not something I think I can get used to.

I decided to tell two people...

It's very hard for me to keep my feelings all pent up inside of me (hence why I turned to this forum for comfort and support), but as ashamed as I am about the situation that I'm in, I just know that I am going to need the support of at least a couple of friends while I go through this process.

I decided to tell my best friend and the guy I'm seeing. These two are the ones I see frequently (aside from my family) and I'd rather answer questions now than later.

My best friend thought I was overreacting and recommended that I keep myself busy with other things to get my mind off the tattoo... Easier said than done. When I'm out and about, I keep it hidden and don't even give it much thought, but that's just one of the problems... I don't want to keep concealing this tattoo. I want to be proud of it... and I'm not.

The guy that I'm seeing was also the person who went with me to get the tattoo in the first place. I was hesitant to tell him for many reasons. 1) He always tells me I'm an over-thinker and I should just let things go and stop worrying so much (he has several tattoos, some that weren't executed the way he had hoped, but he doesn't mind), and 2) I didn't want him to feel any inkling of guilt. He had nothing to do with it. It was my choice to get the tattoo. It was my choice to get it where I got it. It was all my choice and I'm not putting the blame on anyone but myself.

He was actually very supportive and told me that perhaps tattoos are just not for me since they'll never be as perfect as I want them to be (I forgot to mention: I got a 2nd tattoo a few weeks ago -- it's a hamsa design on my back, which I can't really see well enough to dwell on, so perhaps tattoos that are VISIBLE are just not for me lol).

Well, in any case, I'm glad there will be at least two people who now know what I'm going through and I trust that they will be there for me during this process :)

Consultation Day!

I just got back from my consultation with Dr. Krant. The overview:

- I was advised to wait another month to begin treatments so that my tattoo is fully healed. Her next availability for laser treatment isn't until May 15th anyway, so I booked my first treatment for that morning (I don't know HOW I am going to manage waiting a month and a half, but I guess I need to train myself to be more patient.)

- She also told me that she has confidence that my tattoo will take very well to the picosure laser (since it's mostly black/shaded), and given my fair skin, she will crank it up to assure better results. HOWEVER, the red will probably be more of a challenge to remove and may not disappear completely. (As if I didn't already regret adding the heart to my tattoo, this just made me regret it tenfold.)

- She told me that I should aim to get treatments once a month.

- I was quoted at $350 per session. (Since I haven't consulted with any other laser removal services in NYC, I have no idea what to make of this price.)

- I will pretty much have to avoid sun exposure during this process. (How do you guys deal with that? What kind of bandage do you use for protection?)

- I told her my thoughts on possibly aiming to fade the tattoo enough to get a cover up. She told me that we should aim to completely remove it before deciding that. I guess I'll just see how well my tattoo takes to the laser. (If I see amazing results in fewer sessions, then I'll just go for the complete removal.)

Overall, she was very personable and comforting. She made me feel at ease with my decision and reassured me that I will look back at this experience when it's done and over with and laugh. I sure hope so... :-\

First Laser Treatment... DONE & DONE!

Per everyone's suggestion, I had a consultation with another laser treatment facility that offers the YAG laser (as opposed to the Picosure) at an obviously cheaper cost. I went to a place called Smooth located in the Midtown East area of NYC to meet with Carol O'Brien who specializes in tattoo removal. While she is not a dermatologist (like the one I consulted with last week), she does have 15 years of experience with laser removal. (I also got a chance to talk to two patients in the waiting area for feedback/reassurance. They had mixed thoughts, but both have very dense tattoos and are only waiting 3 weeks in between sessions.)

I was quoted at $150 per session and she guesstimated that it *may* take 10-15 sessions for complete removal of my tattoo. While I was a little disappointed in the number of sessions I may need, the price suited me for now and I figured I would start here and go from there.

So, in any case... I had my very first treatment today!

She set the laser to 4.2 or 4.3 (I'm drawing a blank, but it was definitely above 4) and away she went! It was virtually painless (no numbing cream was used, just cold air blowing directly on my skin) and I, for the most part, was in no major discomfort. The feeling was very reminiscent of the one I felt when I was actually getting the tattoo. (I suppose either the forearm is just not a very painful area or I just have a high threshold for pain... or both, lol.)

She predicted that the red heart will probably blister, and sure enough, when I got home and removed the bandage, it was definitely blistered, along with a little bit of the darker black areas.

I plan to wait at least 4 weeks for my second treatment, and then after that, spread the sessions 6-8 weeks apart as most of you do. My main concern is not traumatizing my skin, so as much as I would like this thing zapped ASAP, I need to learn to be very patient.

It's too early to know how I feel about this, but I'm excited to have finally begun my tattoo removal journey... WOOHOO!?!?!

Aftercare for Blisters

The ink in the tattoo is still very raised and the red part of the tattoo is still pretty blistered. I feel slight discomfort every now and then, but for the most part, there's no itching or major pain.

I've done very minimal aftercare these last few days since the treatment (aside from using Cortizone-10 Natural Aloe Formula) and just last night applied ice to it for a few minutes. I just bought bio-oil so I'll start using that as well.

Is there anything else that you guys recommend for the raised skin/blisters? How long does this phase usually last?

2 Weeks Post-Treatment #1

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since my first laser treatment with the YAG laser. The blistering is gone and now all I am really seeing is dry/flakey skin around the darker areas. I'm continuing to apply Bio-Oil and Cortizone-10 with Aloe to the tattoo, but aside from the very light shading inside the anchor that was almost instantly zapped off, I'm not seeing ANY significant fading (I feel like it only looks lighter right now because of all the dry skin).

I'm going to schedule my second treatment in a couple of weeks. I'm only now beginning to realize just how slow this process is going to be... :-\

Side-by-Side Picture! (2 weeks post-treatment #1)

Here's a comparison of my tattoo a couple of weeks after getting it to 2 weeks after my first treatment. I couldn't quite get the same lighting, but you get the idea.

Quick Update! From YAG to Picosure.

Hi everyone. Apologies for dropping the ball these last couple of months. Quick update:

-I had two YAG treatments (one in April, the other in May with 5 weeks in between)

-The first YAG treatment showed some decent fading, but I might as well not have even done the second treatment... No significant changes what-so-ever.

-I was also getting a sketchy vibe from the place I was going to (I got the impression that the laser they use is outdated... The woman who did my treatment the last time I was there said that the laser was recently repaired so the # it shows on the screen is lower than what it is actually blasting -- ummm... okay?!) so I decided to splurge (A LOT) and go with the Picosure laser for my third treatment at a place called Tataway in Manhattan (just read the Yelp reviews on this place -- all holds true.)

-I had the Pico treatment on Tuesday (June 17) and the woman who performed the treatment on me was NOT stingy at all. She was very thorough and went over a few spots twice to make sure the laser hit every area.

-I used NO numbing creams prior (just iced my arm for a few minutes beforehand) and it was virtually painless (less painful than YAG, that's for sure, but then again, I did not ice my arm before my YAG treatments)

-I blistered an INSANE amount afterwards (as seen in the attached picture)... a million times worse than with the YAG.

-The blisters have since subsided, but the loose skin from them is still covering the tattoo so I'm just waiting for it to naturally peel off. It's also red around the tattoo and starting to get itchy (my favorite stage of the removal process...NOT!)

-Last but not least... I'm really really really (did I mention REALLY?) hoping that the Pico will expedite the removal process. I'm going to give it two treatments before I look into the other laser Tataway has (I'm pretty sure it's YAG, but I trust their laser isn't shady).

So that's that... I'll be sure to update in a couple of weeks with a picture. HOPEFULLY there'll be significant fading to celebrate.
New York Dermatologic Surgeon

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