Tattoo - Chronicles of Getting Them and Removing Them

My story is very complicated. It chronicles 10...

My story is very complicated. It chronicles 10 years as I turn 27 in August. My tattoo quest begun at age 16. I spent a couple thousand dollars on professional tattooing over the next three years(that includes having my entire armpit tattooed). When I was 19 I built my own tattoo machine (people in jail refer to them as "boob guns") and then I tattooed my legs which I'm a terrible artist.
I had my brother do his first tattoo ever on my ankle (he is a tattoo artist to this day). but no body's first attempt at tattooing is any good. I quickly started regretting all these home job tattoos I was doing and having done. So I saved up $700 and got one treatment at a clinic in my town when I was 20. When I found out afterwards I would be needing 10 sessions or more due to the depth of ink I have dug the tattoos to (I had the needle go about 4 mm deep which then ink enters into the fat). I decided to buy a 'Q Switched Yag Laser machine' of my own. I then progressed learning everything needed to know and kept lasering my legs/ankle and chest, I also turned this into a business and charged people to remove their tattoos. After 4 sessions on the above mentioned areas I decided to start removing the tattoo on my right forearm. But because of the depth that it was dug (like on my legs)after 2 treatments I wasn't seeing enough progress and wanted to catch it up to the level the rest of my tattoos being removed were at. This is the massive mistake I made which most likely caused keloids (I'm not susceptible to it normally). I held the pulsing laser on my tattoo for far too long which hurt terribly (2nd degree burn). Eventually I stopped feeling any pain at all which I was later advised would have been the 3rd degree burn stage.
My forearm took way too long to heal but did after months. That's when I noticed purple keloid scarring and it raising rather high (keloids is excess collagen production and it can keep growing beyond the skin surface categorising it as a benign tumour). I worked in customer service until 4 months ago. This keloids was present in mid 2012. I got some of it cut out 27 days ago (25th of march 2014). That means I spent over 1 year and a half constantly getting asked about it. A lot of the "emo's" would think I'm into scarification and ask all sorts of intrigued questions, others were straight out puzzled. But I sure got asked plenty. It didn't affect me much (I'm fairly mentally robust). But I sure got sick of it as there was no simple 5 worded answers to what it is and why it happened.
The operation involved local anaesthetic and a scalpel cutting 3 inch long by 1 inch wide of skin and fat and peeling it up like carpet and then stitching the crater together - similar to what they do in a facelift.
In a few months I will have the exact same surgery again to take out the other half of my tattoo and the final result will be one single scar. During the procedure I was allowed to record it. Sadly I have deleted footage by mistake along with photos and footage of my tattoo/keloids before the operation . But I will be certain to get new footage of the second operation which will be the same.
Currently all of my tattoos are still very visible even after 10 treatments per tattoo. The one on my chest is least visible but that was done with a proper tattoo gun and proper ink (by my brother). I also sternly told him to not dig the needle in so deep. Which was to my advantage now in regards to removing it by laser. I'll post photo's and video's showing where I'm at currently. I also have a few videos of my legs being lasered on session 3. Some of the remaining tattoo/keloids is still visible and you can see a fresh scar. Thanks for taking the time to read my unusual story and I'm happy to answer any questions :-)

Appreciate the Wisdom we earn through the mistakes we make.

I don't live in regret, embarrassment or anything reflective of negative emotion. Everything we go through makes us wiser and stronger. I now look before leaping and take the time to think things through with all aspects of my life. If I had my time again with the knowledge I now have, I wouldn't have a single tattoo and I would be happily walking around with unmarked skin (the way we are all born). Like the rest of you fellow bloggers I don't have the luxury of that so I choose to go through any pain or discomfort in removing my terrible home-job tattoo's and I can still appreciate the professional ones I did get, even if they were the choice of a young teenager, and certainly not the fully grown man I am today.

11th laser session for my left leg went well.

Nothing new. Just letting the excision scar heal.

I haven't had anything done since march. I'm always very busy. My forearm isn't looking very good. Excision scar looks like a pink worm. It goes dark purple when exercising. I hope it isn't keloids.
Professional once. At home by me for the rest of my treatments

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Hi :) I see you are from NZ too :) ur process looks absolutely great - I am dwelling on removal on a brand new tattoo. It's crazy to think we can regret something we were so sure on:( even the tv show "body shockers" was on the night before I went in for my tattoo thinking it would not be me... Where abouts r u getting Urs removed? I am in auckland hoping to go to skin institute
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Hey there, how are you making out on your remvoal?
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Can you post pics of the excision please! How is the scar looking. I am considering having two excised and continue with laser on my knee. Please let me know what you suggest on excision?
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Thanks for the update, please show us how it looks after it heals - good luck!
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I have a theory that the laser struggles to get through the layers of skin to reach the deeper sitting pigment. In my case the home job tattoo ink is sitting as deep as 4mm (in the fat). I wonder if I safely removed the top layer(s) of skin eg. the epidermis and possibly even the dermis would the laser be able to reach the pigment easier or is that foolishly dangerous? I know more primitive tattoo removal procedures involved dermabrasion. But I need to know if its dangerous combining the two together. Any doctors or dermatologist opinions will be greatly appreciated!
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Hey man, thank-you for bravely sharing your story, much appreciated. Do you mind me asking what make/model your machine is? Do you think you'll ever go back for professional treatments to get the job done? I've heard that the small, table-top lasers like yours can be good to get the fading started, but they often don't possess the power the complete the removal, as the leftover ink becomes a bit more stubborn. Thanks again, I look forward to following the rest of your experience.
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I'm heading into that stage now it appears. If need be I'll go back to a professional place to get the final treatment or two. Hopefully that wont be the case as I have spent so much already and am now a student again. Also I no longer have that machine as it broke down. I have set a friend up with an even better machine than the one I had (you can see my one in some of the pictures). Today I am getting lasered by him in an hour from now. If he's ok with it I'll video it being done and post on here.
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The machine my friend is lasering me with was purchased on ebay for $1700nzd and its make/model: VICTORY-2A. The machine I owned and originally used was a generic machine off ebay. It wasn't as powerful as this victory laser.
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Ok, took a quick look at the specification. It's maximum energy, per pulse, looks to be 200mj. The majority of the expensive laser models you find in clinics (revlite, medlite, quanta q plus etc) all generally have a minimum power output, per pulse, of 1J (1000mj) at 1064nm. I'll message you a link to an article now, which discusses what sets the lasers that costs tens of thousands of dollars apart from the small ones you can purchase on eBay. I know a lot of this comes down money, but I'm wondering now, as you head towards the end stages of removal with some of your tattoos, if it could be more effective and less damaging to your skin if you were to have a couple of treatments at a clinic with a decent spec laser, to finish the job? Like a I said previously (and I'm no expert, just going off stuff I've read) those small lasers can be good at getting the ball rolling, but in order to get to the stubborn stuff there needs to be sufficient peak power generated, which unfortunately they generally aren't capable of producing. Hope that helps a little.
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At the moment It seems to still be fading. But when it appears to be, not having enough effects I'll be heading in for one or two treatments with the powerful machines. Thanks for the information, much appreciated.
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Very interesting, thank you for posting - you are very brave to laser yourself, it hurts so bad that I don't think I could press the button!! Look forward to your videos  :)
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