Staying Positive Along this Journey - Rochester, NY

...and it seems like I've only made it worse. My...

...and it seems like I've only made it worse. My name is John; and I'm 24 years old from Rochester, NY. Within a month after my 21st birthday, I rushed to get a small, black Polynesian star tattooed on my left forearm. I had "researched" that it stood for confidence, and instantly decided that it was right for me.

I loved it at first, but after just six months, I agonized over it. I thought that it looked "lost" on my arm. I became obsessed with the notion that it needed more embellishment, that it looked like a stamp placed on my arm. The original image had a web drawn around it, so I immediately went to the artist to have it added. Shortly after the grey web was drawn, I returned to have it redone in black and shaded in.

The end result was what I called a "spiderweb fan." I was horrified. I couldn't believe what I had done. I researched removal clinics in the area, and with a friend's recommendation, began treatments at a local dermatology clinic. The doctor used a Nd: YAG laser, that seemed to be current-- spacing the treatments six weeks apart. Following my 6th treatment, the office closed because the doctor was moving his practice to Phoenix, Arizona. What I was left with was a raised outline of the web.

Instead of continuing treatments, I rushed to have ANOTHER tattoo placed over the scar. I was convinced that I would never achieve full-removal, and that a cover-up was my only option to conceal this horrible reminder. The cover-up was poorly done, and I have since then resumed treatments.

I am both embarrassed and ashamed at my lack of forethought and impulsivity. I'm hoping that by learning about your experiences, I can find solace in my mistakes.

- John
Hey don't get discouraged. I made a bad choice in getting a name tattooed on me and then a horrible choice in getting it covered. Now I am stuck doing tattoo removal, it seems I am so stuck on the damn tattoo I can't focus on things in my life. I am constantly kicking myself in the butt for it! so you're not the only 1 my friend. Do not feel bad at all.
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Removal Part II

This update catalogues my second (and final) round of tattoo removal procedures! In April, I began going to Southgate Medical Group, located just south of Buffalo, NY. They use the Picosure laser, and nurses are wonderful. The drive there is well worth it! I highly recommend this clinic to anyone in the WNY area.

After just 3 treatments, the bodice of the image is nearly gone. My theory is that because it was over scar tissue, the ink couldn't penetrate as deeply and as densely.

I'm very optimistic for complete removal!
I am really glad you shared your story with us, it really shows that we are all human and things happen. I am impressed with the fading...it's almost history! Are you going for complete removal or will you be getting a cover up?
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Thank you, Eva! I'm going to hold off an any cover up (or any new tattoos) for the time being. The woman currently being removed was intended to be a cover up for the scarring caused from the first removal. Unfortunately, the raised "webbing" showed right through-- complete removal it is!
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Good Luck!!
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Anxiously waiting for the fourth treatment

So, the nurse at the skin center strongly recommended doing 8 week intervals between treatments for optimal healing and better clearance. But for someone who is as impatient as I am, it's not easy waiting! Nonetheless, I'm about halfway through the period between my 3rd and 4th treatments, so I figured I'd post an updated picture. I'm seeing improved ink clearance in the part of the cover up that was placed over the scar. However, I'm disappointed with the further scarring and skin discoloration (I suppose that's what you get for tattooing over laser-damaged skin and then removing it again!). What are some creams, lotions, etc. that you've found effective for scar reduction and overall skin health? I have been using Aquaphor and Cocoa Butter but maybe there is other things that I'm missing.

Best wishes to all my fellow tattoo removal peeps!
I have 2 products that I think work well, Tepezcohuite - it is  very effective as a regenerator of damaged tissue, I have used it for years on my acne scars and have seen improvement, while slow, over the years my skin looks better and that's really the main product I use. Another product I love is called Natures Aid. Hope that helps. 
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Thanks Eva!!
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One of "those" days...

I'm having one of "those" days where I'm questioning myself and this overall procedure. I was with one of my friends yesterday who didn't understand why I'm having the "cover-up" removed, and that my arm "looks okay if I'm into scarification." I don't think many people understand how much tattoo regret wears on you. We're human and we all make mistakes; but when you have the stare the same mistake in the face day after day it becomes almost too much to handle. The scarring from the first removal procedure is significant, so I'm not sure what I should do now. I keep telling myself that when I finish the removal, the scarring will be a helpful reminder to not jump into things. I've spent well over $2,000 on removal, so I'm both mentally and financially exhausted. I don't want to stop because if I'm not working on something, I may breakdown. This is probably what got me into trouble in the first place. I apologize because I know that this isn't productive to my removal or anyone else going through this, but I needed to let it out. What do you do to stay positive along your journey?
Hi there, i'm not the best person to be giving advice about staying positive as my monstrosity of a tattoo gets me down a lot too, but what I will say is that you are not alone, and you have a lot going for you! Your tattoo is all black, and seeing how much you've faded already, full removal is definitely in the cards! Mine is dense colour, and all i'm hoping for is to fade enough for a good cover up, but even that will be massive, and I will have to be so careful to get the right artist and something that is truly me. I'm also already having some raised scarring, after only 2 treatments, but another realself user recommended using silicone scar sheets, and I feel that it really is helping to flatten the scars so definitely check that out! so yeah, I know it's really hard not to think about your tattoo because it's always there, smacking you in the face. i've started to work out a lot and eat healthy, it helps keep me healthy and is good for fading as it keeps my blood circulating well, but it's also giving me other things to love about my body. find something fun that you can be passionate about and put more energy into that (: you'll be alright, your tattoo will go away, i'm sure of it!
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It's a horrible process to go through, but it isn't permanent as hopeless as things may seem. You've had some great fading so far, especially for the number of treatments you've had. I've found that focusing on other things helps keep my mind off the whole tattoo situation. Sit there and think, "Can I improve my life in any other way?", and then focus on that instead. I'm currently going through a hard time in work and I'm finally deciding to look for something else.. by doing this my tattoo has been off my mind for weeks. You'll get there soon enough. Don't forget that!
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Also, there is a lot that can be done with scarring. Focus on getting rid of the ink first and worry about the scarring later. I've scarred too, but I don't want more than one thing to stress about!
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Sweater Weather...Finally!

As I'm sure that many of you can relate, I've been long anticipating cooler temperatures. Today, it felt like fall, and it looks like next week will continue to be in the mid-to-high 50s. There's a feeling of relief being able to conceal this "blemish" under stylish sweaters and long-sleeve shirts. I've come to terms with the fact that I may forever be left with slightly bleached skin and a raised scar of where the tattoo was. However, it's a token that I will carry with me as a reminder not to jump into things without forethought. In the meantime, covering it with clothing as I undergo removal will aid in keeping my mind off of it. I wish all of you the same peace of mind, so you can take your mind off of the ink and concentrate on all of the important things in life. Happy healing!
Hi John! I like to use Vitamin E oil! I can totally relate to you-- being a little impatient, and wanting to get treatments done a.s.a.p. I have not gotten a treatment for two years now, because I got pregnant, and now I'm nursing. I'm really looking forward to start getting more laser treatments soon! That's great that cooler weather is coming to your area!!! How long will it be "long sleeve weather" in your area?? Hopefully a good while, since that will buy you some time to get some sessions in before short sleeve weather comes back!! :D --Christina
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Thank you for sharing your story! It is impressive that 6 treatments removed all the ink from your original tattoo. Have you tried using Bio oil on the scars? I love it!
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Thank you for the recommendation! I haven't tried it yet, but I'll make sure that I check it out :)
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Tx No. 4

Yesterday, the countdown app on my phone finally reached 0; and I ventured on the hour and a half drive to Buffalo for a zap with the Picosure laser. I asked the nurse about spot-size, and she showed me the chart that she uses to decrease the spot-size according to my regimen. Even with the reduced ink density, I was surprised how intense the snapping still feels! Nevertheless, I'm relieved to have another session behind me and I look forward to seeing more of the image fade away! Happy Fall!
You have come such a long way, and your positivity is fantastic.
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Hello! Thank you, I really appreciate it! I suppose that I've felt sorry for myself, for getting myself into such a pickle, for too long. When I realized that I was wasting valuable time and energy focusing on such a minuscule problem, I started overcoming the worry and regret. I started reflecting on the good things that I could put my efforts toward. Tattoo regret should never interfere with passions and aspirations. Good luck to you; your progress looks great :) - John
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Happy Fall to you too!!! One of my favorite times of year! Happy healing :)
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One Week Post 4th Tx

I'm so impressed with the fact that with less ink, comes a shorter healing time. Although the "spider web" scar has become raised, and with evident hypopigmentation, I'm confident that it'll flatten out and fade over time. I will admit that I spend moments throughout the day staring at my arm and trying to picture what it would look like if I hadn't gotten those tattoo(s) there. However, those moments have become less frequent. Instead, I continue to look to this scar as a reminder of not to dive head first into things without thought and deliberate planning.
I found that my scarring (raised skin) has smoothed out over time, I am certain yours will as well. Keep your chin up :) 

Thanks so much for keeping your review up to date. 
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Am I just blowing smoke?

So, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the physiological process behind laser tattoo removal. I've scoured the internet for the chemical composition of tattoo pigments because I'm concerned about what is being released into my system after a laser session. I realize that I should have considered this risk before getting tattooed in the first place, but that's all water under the bridge now! I'm curious if anyone has ever researched what's in tattoo pigments? What about where the ink goes after a treatment? I've read that ink may be found in the lymph nodes of tattooed individuals but without reference to any health consequences. Lastly, should I really be concerned with all of this-- does it really matter if ink is in my lymph nodes or not? Perhaps I am really just blowing smoke! =O
Great questions, I proposed it to our doctors on the site - I also asked if it can cause cancer as I wonder that myself - here is a link to the FAQ: http://www.realself.com/question/seattle-wa-tattoo-removal-cause-cancer

I also thought you might be interested in the following video:


Tattoo Removal videos from RealSelf doctors

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I thought the same thing about our lymph nodes, I'm not a doctor, but our bodies are pretty amazing and filter out all sorts of crud in the air we breathe and food we eat. I think it's important not to overwhelm the system, by getting only some ink removed at a time. I drink tons of water and run a lot and I can feel my system returning to normal after a few days.
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Follow-Up

Today, I met with my doctor to discuss my concerns regarding the laser removal process. Ultimately, my internet "research" doesn't account for how the body actually responds to the treatment. My doctor advised that the immune system is able to address the ink particles, and whatever it isn't able to expel would be "closed-off" by those cells as if it were exterior to the body. Not only did I discount the body's ability to remove unnecessary things from it, but I also lost sight of my ability to cope with something that I deeply regret. It's as if when I'm close to coming to grips with something that I struggle with, I find a "diversion" to drag me back down. Instead of agonizing over what fictional ailments the internet says can come from tattoos and their removal, I should be striving to re-establish my confidence and peace-of-mind, so that I may live a productive life. I have let tattoo regret control my thoughts and actions for over 3 years, and this regret has only lead me to regret the wasted time. However, instead of regret, regret, regret...I need to focus on accomplishing the things that I feel compelled to do. I'm so grateful for this forum, and to be able to share my accomplishments and pitfalls alike. Thank you!
I had the same concerns, and I have been told the same thing ( so much so that I would have easily given up treatments if I thought it would damage my health). I have a few friends who are doctors, the main premise is this: the ink Tattoos is not regulated and can have all sorts of things, however it does not contain depleted uranium or anthrax and your body flushes out much worse things. I live around NYC and I am definately more concerned with the pollution I breathe in on a daily basis than my ink. Not only that, but your body ingested more ink getting the tat than getting rid of it.
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Southgate Medical Group

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