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Left with a Ghost of a Tattoo -San Jose, CA

Several years ago I made the mistake of getting a...

Several years ago I made the mistake of getting a tattoo at a convention. Although I was pretty certain of what I wanted, I had not taken the time to size and place it properly and the end result was a tattoo that was not only too large for my small frame, but it was placed too far out on my shoulder and had mistakes that made it look ugly. After a few years I decided to get it removed. I was under the impression that it would be gone, and after a few treatments it seemed promising. However, after the later treatments made minimal change each time and I ended up giving up after between 25 and 30 treatments. (They had reduced the price with each treatment, so my later sessions only cost me $65 each. However, I still spent close to $3K for all of them.) I am now left with a ghost of my former tattoo, and every summer I dread wearing tank tops or going to the pool and fielding questions about what that strange scar on my back is. Granted, most people cannot tell that it was a tattoo, but others can see it and can tell me exactly what it was without my prompting them. I am now on a mission to get rid of it, some way. I was told by a tattoo removal doctor to try Fraxel, which costs about $1500. But, when I went to the Fraxel doctor, he said to try Excimer, which costs even more and requires 25-50 treatments. So, next on the list is Derma Needle Roller and Red LED light therapy. If these don't work, I'll get a cover up.

Week one with derma roller

I've been using the derma roller for one week, in hopes that it will help minimize the scarring or at least help blend the pigment so that the outline is not so noticeable. So far, there's no change (which I certainly didn't expect in this short amount of time.)
I wanted to add this photo, since it's a of my full shoulder, so you can see more of the problem. Although nearly all the pigment is gone, you can still clearly see what was there.
Dr. Saal

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Firstly congratulations on removing your tattoo without a trace of ink left! I have a large multi coloured tattoo on my leg im removing and I am also worried about hypopimentation issues. I have very pale skin and never tan only burn, my technician told me to keep it out of sunlight and avoid fake tans during treatment and for at least 12 months after to give the melanin a chance to come back, did you follow this also? What factor suncream do you use on it? Are there lasers for pigmentation isssues you could try, one is offered at my clinic? Depending on how much you tan we have an amazing woman nearby who does medical tattoos who also does pigementation scars.
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I had exactly the same problem as you. The doctor suggested Fraxel dual. It didn't help at all. The color is even more white and the scar more raised. How is your derma roller treatment coming along?
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Hey there, just checking in to see how things are going, do you see any improvement with your scars?


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Sorry if this is repetitive I didn't read all the comments. But I had c02 laser on my face. It totally helped with old (mild) acne scars (not bad ones though). Anyway, I think the discoloration of them looks similar to your shoulder. Also, I saw it on groupon and did it for $250 and the tech was great!
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Hello jena, thanks for sharing your experience with everyone! I understand why you may not be pleased with your results, but we all go in knowing there is a potential risk of scarring. I guess what it comes down to is ink or scar. In the pictures, I don't think it looks that bad. Just curious, how many treatments did you have? And do you know what laser was used? Thanks :-)
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I hope, and pray for these results! I would take a ghost tattoo any day. The ink is gone and that was the objective right!?
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Ink gone, yes, mostly. Having a scar in the shape of my tattoo was not the objective. If you are willing to spend $3K going to countless appointments, suffering the pain of the laser and recovery over three years - I'm sure you'll get our prayers answered.
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Is it removal scar or is it a tattoo scar as it can be artist fault? I will remove 2 tattoos next week. My tattoos are black, but i have one place where tattoo artist did put pink and aquablue, this was hes choice and i flipped away and was so mad. I stoped everything, went home. Thought i make suicide because i scare my own foolis mind but then i thought that there are so much people who i love and who love me :D So, it was just emotional rush of depression. Did not sleep or eat. I was like walking zombie and people thought i started useing drugs. So, now... I found and skincare hospital where they removed tattoos free few years ago but now they take money. 30cm2 is 34Euros... Laser is MedArt740 but this is old information about laser. This laser is ment for removing all pigmental issues of blood vessels and much more. Wierdly i did not find much about it at internet, but the doctor says that it works fine and its stats are same as Qswitch has, after that it has cooling stuff what cools skin down at process... Going in there tomorrow to make my apointment. They say it will be 6-10 threatments. So, i am glad that i stopped my tattoo before it was ready and added more colors into it. Now there are black shadowed wings and much empty lines and there is diamond, wery badly done, shadowed with pink and blue. So, why i regret it? It is because all the lines are curvy and shitly done. I felt like 3 years old is tattooing me. Funny, huh?`my second mistake and i dont trust any tattoo artist anymore. Fuck them... I will remove all my tats if it workign good and mainly, i shut off my world and start writing a book or do something meaningful... Some fantasy story. :P I must accept that i cant take off my cloths several years. If someone can post me, how i can do my blog and put some pics up here, i would be glad.
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Blessone, here is a link to the Tattoo Removal Review page. Once you open the page it will give you fields to fill in, and you will be able to upload photos as well.

Glad you will be adding your story to the community! :)

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aloha jenamama,  first up thanks for sharing, it's important to share with others so they have information and you get some release from the issue.  I know that many are saying you're lucky with your results but you feel otherwise.  I think you have wonderful results and I'd be very happy if my lasered tattoo looks like yours in the end.  I've only had five sessions and the tattoo looks old (it's only 8 months old) but I know realistically that I will be left with a shadow and not inkfree pre-tattoo skin.  Expectations set our happiness.  I would give it some time, one of the things I've learned through this experience is to be patient.  For those out there that recognize it's a lasered tattoo, all I can say is "good for you" but truth be told it's not any of their business, it's only yours.  None of us are perfect, and we shouldn't expect others to be.  Good luck with the derma roller (I have no idea what that is but I hope you're happy with the results).  aloha...k
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30 treatments might mean your tech was not that good, despite the nice looking result. I've heard that if they're not aggressive enough during the first treatments then it can take much longer overall.
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I agree that 30 treatments is wayyyy to many and will definitely leave a scar or in your case a ghost. After 10 treatments a tattoo is considered refractory... or resistant to laser treatment
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What colors where your tattoo before?
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I think you're very lucky to have the results you have achieved, I would love to see a before photo of the actual tattoo. Can you confirm if it was dark with color?
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Sorry, I wish I could find an old picture, but I can't. It was not super dark color. The outline was black and the colors were almost pastel. I realize that some see this result as a success. But, the cost (the $3K, the pain of thirty treatments over years, etc.) does not make me lucky. I was mislead. It's been a frustrating experience. My point in posting is just to help people really understand what they are getting into when they start treatment. Most people are told 6-10 treatments and no scarring - that's a very rare case. It takes a long time, it's painful and costs a lot of money.
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The lasers don't work so well for pastel colors and the more treatments you have done, the more damage to the skin. The lasers have to have a contrast... dark ink against light skin to work effectively. That's why it's hard for more darker skinned ppl to remove dark colors and often they end up with hypopigmentation after treatments... especially if not done correctly. How many treatments in did it take for the black to dissapear?
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Thank you for you information, you help set expectations. Everyone will have a different experience. I have already set a max of sessions which is 15, I will assess it at that point, I am prepared for a cover up, as it's not the fact that I have a tattoo that bothers me ( i have others) I just don't like the way this one turned out, it was not what I wanted at all. The artist just did his own thing, does not look at all like the sketch. Anyways, thanks again!
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Over the years I think that will get better. Just give it time.
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Thanks for the updated picture. I can see it better now. Will that heal any more as the time goes on? Or stay like that ?
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It's been several years and it is slightly better than it was after my last treatment.
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what was the original treatment you went with? what was the name of it?
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They used a Q-switched and Ruby laser, I think there was even a third type used at the end, but I can't remember the name of it.
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ok thanks!!
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i have to be honest with you as far as it comes with tattoo removal i think your results are amazing! what kind of treatment did you go with? i have one on my hip/side that isnt bad or done wrong, i just dont want it anymore lol so i dont have a problem with that area looking like your results at all in the end. if you know the name of the treatments you used that would be awesome. thanks!!
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THANK YOU so much for your review and photo! I was shocked to see how great it looks, from what you said in a post I expected worse, I think your results, based on the photo are great, and gives us hope! Made my day that's forsure. I have purple, green, orange, yellow, and so worried it won't come out, but after seeing this, so happy!
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