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.
Glad you're here - this is a great community and will offer you a ton of support :) 
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hey welcome i saw you on the other forum,this should respond good to laser,
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Hey, I think your tattoo is really cute, but obviously your the one that has to be happy with. I have the same placement as you and I totally hate it too, and the "artist" did a terrible job. Try not to stress over it to much, one day you will laugh at this :)
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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 :)
Hi there! I told you I'd take a thorough look at your review today (after my exam, which I flunked today) and here I am. I was actually reading it on the train back home but as I was reading I thought I'd wait to get home before I commented because there kinda is a lot for me to say. First up, it is perfectly okay to feel the regret after you have a tattoo that doesn't turn out right. I too found myself dwelling on touch ups to fix it up and I couldn't wait to go and get it fixed because how wrong my tattoo was just wouldn't get out of my head. I also spent hours looking on the internet at tattoos like mine to assure myself that mine wasn't that bad; I know how that feels. With your tattoo, at least it hasn't had two more layers of solid ink in, like mine has. I think your tattoo could be considered just one layer, because your touch up was just to fill it in, which works great for you as it means less treatments. Now, to answer your question about your dilemma. Look it boils down to this: if this tattoo is giving you so much grief, especially the placement of it, you should just look to get it completely removed (in my opinion, of course). If you get it covered up, you'll likely have the same negative feelings about it, and be back to square one. Weigh up the costs and benefits: if this tattoo is making you feel so bad, it's just gotta go (my opinion again, of course). Also, adding the heart would prolong the total time it takes for you to remove your tattoo (because your skin has to heal, etc.) but if you think it would make you feel better about your tattoo in the meantime, go ahead. I know it might be easier to convince yourself to love your tattoo and not get it lasered, as I have tried to do, but you come to the obvious conclusion that you don't actually love it you're just tricking yourself to love it, so once again, it should probably be removed. I understand that it will be a long, arduous process that will take a lot of time, patience and money away but that's just the nature of it. I know exactly how you feel when you talk about just achieving a milestone in weight loss and then having to worry about a silly little tattoo being removed - I too am there because last year I went through what I could only call a series of very unfortunate circumstances. I had 4 operations, 2 of them major, and have only just finished all the follow up appointments and treatments for these operations. Now I have to worry about getting my tattoo removed. I thought "man this just sucks" but then you also think, that's just life, you know? But anyway, good luck with your treatment, and I'll be following your story. A lot of people here on this site (including me) will also be here to give you any help that you may need. Stay strong!
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thank you for taking the time to read my "story" and leaving such a heartfelt reply. it's so comforting to have this community to reference whenever i am unsure of something or just need reassurance that i'm "not alone"... i have my consultation tomorrow and i have absolutely NO idea how it's going to go. no idea how much i will be quoted per session, no idea how many sessions i will need, etc. i have not quite wrapped my mind around all the pain, the money, and the TIME that this will take, because i'm still sort of in denial that i've landed in a place where i feared so much before getting this tattoo. i think i will have PLENTY of time to really think about whether i should go for a full removal or a cover-up once i start the laser treatments, since it will take months jus to even fade this thing. i wouldn't mind another tattoo on my forearm -- heck, this is what i wanted from the get-go -- i just need to make sure that whatever i get is close to perfect because it'll be in plain sight. at the end of the day, my anchor tattoo in particular just does not look good in its current placement. so anyway, i hope YOU get your piece of mind soon and can start your treatments... look on the bright side, at least you can cover yours up with a shirt -- even in the hottest weather. but i know, even that isn't a solution at all.
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Your story and mine are so similar! Just take it a step at a time. You'll be ok. I know for myself right now that with the thought of warmer weather coming the anxiety is returning. It was easier during winter to keep it covered and forget it. Not sure how I'll do this summer. I just keep trying to remind myself that it's just a tattoo and so many people have them. Anything you see in your tattoo as being flaws, chances are no one else notices. Good luck again with your consult!
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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... :-\
You know, I've heard with picosure red is tough to treat, but with some of the other lasers it can actually be an easier color than others. So you may want to check on that with some other places. Good luck!
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And to add...I soooo wish they had picosure where I am. I'm hoping they have it at some point. There's only 1 dermatologist here that does the tattoo removal. There are 3 techs that do it.
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Sounds like the person you saw was very empathetic and understanding. I'm not too sure about the price and whether it's fair but since your first appt isn't until may, perhaps you can find another person to have a consultation with just for comparison? Also, while the picosure is said to be great, I agree with PC that for your tattoo, the picosure may not be necessary and that a q switch may be just as good and cheaper! As for the red heart if it doesn't remove no big deal..it's small.would you ever consider just keeping the heart? It's cute. :) good luck!
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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!?!?!
looks like the laser was too low for the black as to why theres no pain or markings of any kind it loos like it didnt even have laser. good luck!
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I'm blistered in the more dense areas in the black and you can barely see the shading that was inside the anchor anymore. How do you suppose that is? The laser was set at around 4.3. Not sure whether that's standard or considered "low", but the technician said she usually starts patients off at around 2-something.
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Glad to hear your first session went well. I'm not going through the process so I can't really say what the levels mean but I say trust the person who's doing it. Good luck and please please keep us informed of how you're doing and your progress! :)
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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?
How you making out, is the tattoo still feeling raised and red?
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From what I've read, the blistering and swelling can last up to a week. It's only been a few days since your treatment so I wouldn't be too concerned at this point.
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Canadagirl75 is correct, blisters can last 4-7 days. Mine were ususally around the 4-5 day mark. 
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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... :-\
Thanks for the update. It is a long process but from what I've read, you don't really start seeing any significant fading until after the 6 week mark. You're 2 weeks in and the average removal takes 52+ weeks so it's still early. Be patient and just live your life. Don't let this process consume your life. Then, before you know it, it'll be over. You could also decide to do a cover up once it's faded more. That's what many decide since it's a really long process.
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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.
Hi - when is your next treatment scheduled?
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I see some great fading already. Hang in there!
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I really do like your tattoo! How big is the tattoo? There are some areas that you can see fading! Give it more time and you should see more in the next few weeks!
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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.
my mulitple asymetrical anchor is what lead me to decide finally on laser removal. loved your story! More pictures?
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I've been wondering how you're doing. The picosure treatment sure looks like it's done its thing! I'm sure once the blisters clear you'll see a difference.
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Hi! I sure hope so! Will be sure to update in a couple of weeks :) How are YOU?
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New York Dermatologic Surgeon

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