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

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!

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!

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?

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!

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!

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.
Southgate Medical Group

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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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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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Thank you, Eva!
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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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Hi Christina! Congratulations to you and your little one! But, I understand the anxiousness that comes along with waiting for that next treatment. It'll be cold around her until Mid-to-late March, so I'm looking forward to having that time to fit in a few sessions. I'll keep a lookout for when you resume your treatments! - John
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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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I think your removal has been really successful overall. You have a bit of scarring, sure, but scars often do fade gradually over the years. Furthermore, it's probably far more visible to you, up close, than it is to everybody else. Loads of people won't notice it at all. It is indeed a beautiful time of year. Enjoy your sweaters and the loveliest season :)
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Thank you for your positive words. It's true that we are more critical and hypersensitive to things that are on our own bodies. Enjoy the season as well :)
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Glad you are in good spirits :) Enjoy the fall, it's my favorite time of year! Chai and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes - Yum!
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Mine too!! Can't get enough of those delicious beverages :)
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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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Hi there, I apologize for the delayed reply. I appreciate you taking the time to post some positive words on my page. I've been exploring some new projects and hobbies to direct good energy and to reduce the amount of time I spend agonizing on my tatt. Best of luck on your fading!
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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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Hey! Thanks for reaching out. That's an excellent way to put the tattoo removal in perspective. There are many other facets of my life that I should be devoting my energy to, with work being one of them as well. Unfortunately, I'm choosing to focus on the ink on my skin (mostly because it's always staring me in the face). It's definitely a slow process, so there's no sense in sacrificing the important things in life for it!
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Hi John. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I want you to know firstly that you can feel free to vent, winge, complain, rejoice, question, feel up, and feel down as much as you want on this forum. We're all in the same boat, and there are some amazingly supportive people on here who will help you through this. I'm sure we can all relate to at least some of your story. I too originally had a smaller tattoo (some text) and decided it looked out of place and needed something 'more'. It wasn't until after I fulfilled that that I realised that wasn't the answer, and that the reason I felt the original tattoo looked out of place wasn't because it was missing something, it was because I just didn't want any ink on me. I'd made a horrible mistake. I'm just over a year in to my removal now. My tattoo is perhaps 60% gone, but it's clear I still have a way to go, perhaps another year. Not a day goes by where it doesn't plague my mind. I consciously make an effort not to look at it when getting changed, in the shower etc, it's gotten to that stage. I've lost interest in the fun things in life. I haven't exercised for a couple months now. Hell, I'm even pretty certain the stress of this thing is causing my hairline to recede quicker than before. This all sounds negative, I know, but I want you to know firstly that you're not alone in your struggles. Secondly, this will pass. Unfortunately it's not straight forward, and it takes a long ass time to make right, but it WILL pass, and at the end of it you'll be twice the person you were before for sticking with it and getting it done, and learning a whole load of lessons along the way. It looks like your close to getting all the ink out. Perhaps another three or four sessions? Consider putting ten weeks between your last few treatments, for extra healing/fading etc. It's hard to tell, but by the looks of it the scarring was perhaps caused by slightly overly aggressive treatments to begin with? Either way, there are several options out there to reduce scaring now. I've read so many positive things about silicone scar sheets - have you looked in to those? Now the cooler weather is coming you could wear a scar sheet during the day under long sleeves to help flatten out the scar tissue? Alternatively you could look at bio oil (we have it here in the UK, hopefully you have it there too?). It's supposedly good for scars. That said, even if a little scarring remains, like you say, it can act as a reminder of your struggle and ultimate success. Plus I'll bet it looks pretty cool! Stick with it pal, we're all behind you now. Keep your eyes on the prize. Paul.
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Hi Paul! Thank you for taking the time to reach out. You're absolutely right-- this will pass, and by sticking with the long process, we can learn a lot of important lessons along the way. Yes, the first series of removals were very aggressive. The doctor recommended six week intervals, and the black ink was dense and deep. I'm hoping that it'll only need three or four more sessions. I will definitely look into bio oil, or whatever similar product we have here in the States. I actually used silicone scar sheets for a bit after I got the cover up done earlier this year, and now that the cooler weather is coming, I should definitely resume using those. Remaining steadfast and patient during the long process is so important-- I know that I can be an extremely impulsive person! It's smart to take things slow, and to approach them with clear and level thinking. I'm constantly letting the ink on my skin dictate how I should feel at any given time, but I'm trying to do whatever I can to stay positive with the things I truly should be grateful for along the way. Thanks again. John.
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It seems to me as tho you scared from placement of the original tattoo, Correct? I have some scarring too! But I'm chugging along. Being positive in such turmoil is hard but I promise you time heals wounds. Even the physical ones. After treatments are over you can look at scar treatments to minimize your scar but to a certain degree it will remain. Please check out my forum post 100 days. Of happiness and chime in when you are ready. You can also check my review. I've come a long way. So I'll try to help wherever possible! Feel free to PM if you need to talk to someone!
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Hi there! Yes, I scarred pretty badly from the original tattoo. I think the depth/amount of black ink and the 6-week intervals was a bit much. You sure have come a long way-- you can see a lot of fading and breaking-up on those black lines. I love the idea of your 100 days of happiness forum, and I'll be sure to check it out. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me, and for sharing so much positivity on your page!
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Hey there, please know this is your space to share your feelings regardless of what they are and we are here to support you through this. This is going to be long, I apologize, I just want to try and help you. Regret of any kind is an emotional and challenging process to go through and we all have are up's and downs with any challenge in life. Through my experience with tattoo regret, some of the ways that I managed my emotions was by changing my perception about my tattoo. I removed judgment and blame that I placed on myself for getting it ( I even blamed my husband for not being there to help when getting the tattoo thinking he could have stopped it). I stopped calling myself stupid and the tattoo ugly, got rid of blame. With the help of my husband & family (as we all need someone to guide us when we need a boost) they helped me realize that it was not my fault and that I had little control on how the tattoo was going to turn out. They worked with me as well as, and most importantly, I worked with myself by reading (for inspiration) yoga & meditation (promote calmness & regain balance) to overcome this negative experience and turn it into a positive. By doing this you slowly take your power back. One of the things I learned was to break things down, dismantling the situation is very grounding and helps you realize that no matter how strong the emotion is, it is fabricated. Every thing in the world is made up of parts, as is every emotional event in life which can be broken down into the following 3 parts: the subject (you) an object (tattoo) an action (anger and regret)

When we get caught up in negative thinking it's extremely difficult to break that cycle, and usually isn't logical thinking. It becomes very difficult to regain control of our mind. A strong emotion takes hold of us and creates anxiety and fears that prevent us from trusting and moving forward. A negative emotion such as tattoo regret can feel as big as one of the tallest buildings, but it can also be dismantled brick by brick. 

By dismantling, or breaking down this event into 3 parts, as I mentioned above, you start to engage in reason and start to investigate our feelings - regret, anger, fear - and we slow down, our perception shifts and things start to stabilize. The more reason we have the better we can dismantle this situation. We see the source or object of the emotion (the tattoo) and by digging deeper and as we contemplate the emotion we come to realize the tattoo is not the reason behind what we feel, we are by allowing this event to take such a strong hold on us. 

I hope this information helps guide you as it did me to overcoming this. 

Also - here is a discussion recently started you might want to partake in: 100 Days of Happiness

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Hi Eva! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insight with me. I'm going to use that "three part" visual as a way to distinguish the tattoo from my anxiety and regret. It's so true that "the tattoo is not the reason behind what we feel," because from my experience, I've just used it as a scapegoat to point blame for my regret and unhappiness. It's been a long three years living with this tattoo, but the sooner I realize that it's only a distraction from what is really important in life, the more fulfilling life I will lead. I thought that by changing the tattoo, over and over, that I could fix the other issues in my life. I'm definitely going to check out that 100 Days of Happiness, and I look forward to posting another treatment in a short 4 weeks :)
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Glad it helped :) good luck!
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