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Lesson Learned: Now lets annihilate this thing! - Scottsdale, AZ

About two weeks ago I had a very large colorful...

About two weeks ago I had a very large colorful cover up tattoo done on my stomach. I had to have two 6-7 hour sessions done to cover up the old tattoo and it is still not even completely finished but I've had enough done to know that I hate it so needless to say I will not be going back. The original tattoo I got when I was 18 and it was black vines and leaves and some black stars (something that is very difficult to cover up and should never have been attempted. The new tattoo is a bunch of roses (?) leaves and other flowers. I realize that this is a very difficult tattoo to remove by laser because of all the green and blues. I will definitely be getting the laser procedure done but I'm considering using an alternate method first to lighten the tattoo and hopefully lower the cost and number of treatments needed with laser. I have read some promising things about TCA chemical peel and the tattoo vanish method. There is a place that does tattoo vanish about 5 minutes away from me so I will probably go for a consultation. I am however, very worried about this causing scarring. Has anyone had experience with this?
I am also concerned about what type of laser treatments I should get. There is a laser school in my area that offers laser treatments for $50 a session and I believe they use just the standard q-switched laser. There is also a place near me that offers the R20 but for a much much higher price. I have also looked into the picosure laser but unfortunately there is not one in my area. The closest place would be California so I'm considering going there and getting that done on any green/blue ink left remaining after my laser treatments. I would really appreciate any advice anyone has to offer. I've been extremely depressed and self conscious over these past couple weeks and I'm not feeling any better. I've been obsessively looking at information on the Internet to the point where it's the only thing I can focus on. Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated!

So I went for a consultation...

So I went to my first consultation at Phoenix Skin which is the only place in the area that has the picosure laser. I was really impressed at how fast they were able to get all of their patients in and out because they have a very busy office. The lady I spoke with was also very friendly and knowledgable. She said that the picosure works great for all colors except for red so my tattoo would be treated with both the picosure and the medlite lasers since I have quite a bit of red in my tattoo. I was quoted at $750 a session. Yikes!! But that is a fair price considering the size and colors of my tattoo and I will be getting the best laser available and they will be giving me injections to numb the area. The only thing I did not like is that she was not really able to give me an estimate on how many treatments it would take to clear my tattoo. She said most tattoos are completely removed in 3-6 treatments with this laser. I expect mine should take about 7 or 8 hopefully! My first session is July 2. I'm really excited to see what I kind of results I will see with this laser!!

I have my first treatment today

I have my first treatment today. I'm pretty anxious about it but mostly I'm excited to get this process started and because it is the picosure laser I'm hoping to see some pretty good results out of this first treatment. It's pretty crazy how much the tattoo has faded already. I conducted a little experiment. My tattoo artist told me to really avoid the sun while this tattoo is new he said that color tattoos should really be kept out of the sun for three months or else there will be a lot if fading. So I did exactly that! While I was in Jamaica on vacation I let my tattoo get a little sun. Not too much because I did not want it to interfere with the laser treatment but just from that it has already faded a lot!
I will let you all know how today goes and will update with pics.

1st treatment

I just finished with my first treatment about two hours ago. It took about 40 mins since my tattoo is large. I opted to get the cooling machine instead of the lidocaine injections because they said it would be challenging to numb the whole area since the tattoo is so large. The actual laser treatment was not so bad. I do think it definitely hurt worse than getting the actual tattoo. It hurt a lot in some areas like near my belly button and ribs but in some areas I could barely even feel it. So I think the placement of the tattoo makes a difference. If you have a small tattoo then there's no need to worry because its quick but because mine is so large I definitely had to endure it for a while. After the laser treatment was finished was actually when the pain was worst the car ride home was almost unbearable. Luckily I had someone driving me because I don't think I could have made it on my own. Now I'm feeling much better though it just feels like a very large burn. I still haven't un wrapped it I'm kind of scared to honestly but I'll try to get some pics on here tomorrow.

Few hours after first treatment

Just changed my wrapping and got to see it for the first time! I was pleasantly surprised to see most of that green and the blue and purple already faded out! Can't wait to see how much it fades in the next week or two!

Aftercare?

So I'm a little confused about what I should be doing at this point as far as aftercare. I have been applying aquaphor and some prescription antibiotic cream on it twice a day and keeping it wrapped up with sarand wrap. I was told to only do this for 3 days and then I can leave it unwrapped but I need to keep it moist with aquaphor. She stressed that it was very important to keep it moist and to not let it dry out or scab. I've been continuing to wrap it with sarand wrap because if I don't the aquaphor gets everywhere and it starts to dry out pretty quick so I have to put it on like once an hour. Which I just would not be able to do when I am at work. I figure the wound has to dry up at some point so the skin can start to peel and flake. I'm trying my best to follow the instructions she gave me because I don't want to damage or scar my skin but the instructions are just too vague. What do you all do? Any products you can recommend?

1 week after treatment

My skin is just starting to peel. You can tell on the upper flower that the red is quite a bit lighter where the skin has peeled. Can't wait to see it when the whole things peels!

2 weeks after treatment 1

So my skins still has not completely healed but most of the skin has peeled. Unfortunately, when the skin was peeling I noticed that some green started to show through on the new skin. So some colors are not as faded as I thought they were but I'm still really happy with the results of this first treatment. I still had a lot if fading

Second Treatment Complete!

I just got finished with me treatment a few hours ago. I prepared a little bit better for the pain this time. I used some Dr. Numb and I do think that it helped but only a little bit. I put it in about 40 mins before and kept and ice pack around my waist to try to numb it as much as possible. I also had them give me some lidocaine injections this time in a few spots. I had them numb the area near my belly button and ribs and that helped a lot! But the lidocaine injections are pretty painful as well. Can't wait to see my results. I'll post some pics in a few days

Week after second treatment

Sorry I still haven't put up any pictures. I am still waiting for it to heal and all the dead skin to peel off. I had a little bit of a harder time with the healing process this time around. I know she turned up the laser this time so I had a lot of blisters and a lot more pain and discomfort after the treatment. The past couple of days it has been extremely itchy. I've been trying to leave it alone but I can't help touching it and rubbing it. When I originally got the tattoo I had an allergic reaction to the red ink so now everytime I get a treatment done I get a reaction. I've had to sleep with an ice pack on it at night to keep myself from tearing my skin off in my sleep. I've already caused one small scar from picking at my skin so I need to be careful. So far I do notice some fading especially in the black this time around but the change isn't that drastic. Definitely feeling a little more discouraged after this treatment. It is just so painful and so expensive! I also broke up with my very long term boyfriend a little while ago and it has been hard trying to date when I have this huge gross wound on my side! I'm not waiting quite as long for my next treatment. I really just want to get this over with so I will be going back in again September 25. I will hopefully have some pictures up here in the next day or two.

Pic

Here's a pic. Still healing but it's almost there

Two weeks after second treatment

Tattoo is still healing. I'm starting to get really concerned about what this is going to look like when I've removed all the ink. I've accumulated many scars. Oh well, maybe a cover up is the way to go.

Third treatment is done!

I just had my third treatment done yesterday. This was a hard one to get through. I could feel the difference when she turned up the power this time. Plus, the cooling machine decided to stop working mid way through. So she did a little bit without it which was incredibly painful. But luckily they got it back up and running again to finish the tattoo. The pain afterward wasn't as bad as usual though because she sent me home with some tylenol 3 which helped a lot! Starting to get a little burned out on this but at least I'm already 3 treatments in. I can't believe I've come this far. I will be taking a break until December because my laser tech is going on maternity leave and I'd really like her to be the one to continue my treatment. Plus, I could definitely use a little break anyway. Can't wait to see the results of this treatment. She said it looked like it responded really well! Pictures will be coming soon!

10 days after treatment 3

Noticing more fading in the red after this treatment!

4th Treatment: Achievement Unlocked!

Hey guys,
I know I haven't updated in a while. It's been about 3 months since my last treatment. Finally bit the bullet and got another one done. It's definitely starting to wear me down a bit. And I'm starting to get a little skeptical about the results that I have been promised. But I'm hoping the fading will be good this time around. Pictures to come soon

Is this thing working?

Here it is 11 days after treatment 4. Noticed a little fading but not much. I don't think she is turning the machine up high enough. Right now I believe she has the setting on the picosure around 3 and I believe it goes up to 6. Does anyone else, who is getting treated with picosure, know what setting it is at? It does not look like the yellow is getting picked up at all and the black is really fading slowly. I'm wondering if I should go get a few q-switched treatments because it may work better on the black and save me some money. But I do realize I am only on treatment 4 so my results are pretty good so far. I was only planning on having 4 more treatments. I can't really afford to do any more than that. So it is looking like I will probably have to get a cover up.

Update

Hey guys, I just wanted to post an update before I go in for my 5th treatment tomorrow. It's been almost 2 months since my last treatment and I haven't seen much fading from this last treatment. Hopefully I'll get some better results with this next one. Overall, I have seen some great fading so I wanted to put up a side by side comparison as well as some pre treatment 5 photos.

Pics

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Comments (125)

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Hey there! I'm seeing some fading in your pictures! I am being treated with the Pico too, and I'm just finished #7. My fading has definitely slowed. I know that my doctor sets it at level 3, but I'm pretty sure the higher the number is, the lower the power. I think she used 2.5 this past treatment. I could be wrong there, but I think that's what my doctor said. I actually asked if she would R20 with my last treatment, and she did but I'm just not seeing a lot of fading anymore. Maybe try to switch it up with a standard q switched laser, and see if you get anymore progress. I think I am going to get my next treatment with a standard laser to see if there is any additional fading. Just a thought. Hang in there, I know it's so hard to get pumped about a treatment, and pay big money to see little results. I've invested $3100 into treatment so far to get where I am, which is probably half way. Good luck dear, keep your head up!
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Fading looks very good. My tattoo has colors similar to yours and I will be extremely pleased if I get such good results! My first treatment the nurse used the Picosure on the red, and I am thinking of asking her to use one of their other lasers over the red ink next treatment -- they also have the Q-switched Nd-YAG and Alexandrite .
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Your fading is amazing. Sometimes we don't see fading as we live with the lasered tattoo every day, but seeing the pictures there is definite fading. Congrats! Itching is a b*tch! Wow! I take antihistamines and use hydrocortisone cream. I also slap the adjacent area (not the actual tattooed area) to hit the nerves. Good luck with your next treatment, I'm sure it'll go fabulously. aloha...k
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Have you looked at other lasers? I hear there are some lasers with different wavelengths that work better on reds, blues, etc. Or other treatments where they use different lasers. That might help zap some more of that red as I hear the picosure's one weakness is red color.
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Picosure is the best laser for black and all colors except red (also doesn't work too well on yellow). They use the Medlite for the red in my tattoo
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Wowh great to find your story I too am having removal of stomach tatoo cover up mine tho is a mess black tribal made into flowers hate it I'm One week over first treatment there is a lot of fading in yours it's giving making me feel really positive good luck with your healing il be watching this review !! X
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Thank you! I've seen your review too and your tattoo is very similar to mine. Around the belly button is the most painful area for me, so I definitely feel for you. Your tattoo has a lot of red and black and that seems to be responding really well. What kind of laser are they using for yours? I look forward to following your progress, as well. Good luck with your removal!
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Hi using Candela AlexTriVantage laser I'm suprised that iv had a lot of fading on treatment one the itching is driving me crazy scabbing nearly gone but last year while on holiday and while sunbathing I used loads of tanning oil to try fade it the colours were never very vivid as have so much black tribal design under which can be seen under flowers ;( oh I know the pain by bellybutton so sensitive I opted for half tatoo to be las ewes have other side next week to do but feel it would be best to do whole area in one go ! But the pain I'm distressed thinking about it your very brave to have such a big area done !! Il likely have it have a cover up on one side as slot scaring as 3 tatoos under my right side ;( ! Don't give up ur story is giving me hope xxx
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Pls excuse typo mistakes on iPhone in bed :)
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Wow. Clearly a lot of fading! The treatments look very effective- it's just that you're treating a lot of ink! In terms of yellow- many of us are in the same boat. I've only had one pico treatment which turned my green to yellow. I'm expecting to have yellow left over and then look to the q-switched for that. I'm not sure if you had wanted to go for full removal- but if $ is the issue, I would say wait until you have more, instead of getting a cover up you don't really want. After all, while you wait, that ink will continue to fade. Maybe have a less expensive q-switched on the black and red and then wait. Let your skin completely heal/massage it/hydrate it etc. With the ink you have at the moment a cover up will have to be pretty dark/thick and you could run into the same regret later. You've come a long way! Good luck on #5!!!
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Thanks for the tips! Honestly a cover up is not my ideal choice but I'm pretty positive that removing all the ink from this tattoo will be impossible. There is scarring and I don't want to have so many treatments that my skin becomes even more damaged. I have scoured the internet and I've read every review in this section and the picosure section and I have yet to see one large colorful tattoo that has been completely removed. Sorry, not trying to be a pessimist, I just want to be realistic about what my best course of action is and there's no way I can afford these treatments much longer. I'm gonna wait till after treatment 8 and evaluate where I'm at by that point. if complete removal seems possible then I'll probably continue the treatments. Sorry for the rambling! My mom and I have argued about this so I had to vent lol. Thanks for the support and good luck with your removal!
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Thank you for the update and side by side, pictures speak a thousand words! I see lots of breakup and clearing of the ink in the flowers and the blue and greens are responding so well - that must be the Picosure at work. Good luck on your next  treatment!
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Yeah picosure works wonders on blue and green. I've also noticed it works especially well on purple. Treatment went well! Thanks for the support!
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If you can, try and find out what setting the laser was at, than can be good information for you to know!!
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I asked while at my treatment yesterday and she said she had the picosure set for 2.8 for the darker colors and 2.6 for the lighter colors and I never found out what she had the Medlite set at. So those settings do seem about right for treatment 5. She has been increasing the power each treatment.
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Picosure isn't effective on reds. The laser doesn't recognize it, so you are better off using a different laser for the red. The picosure is highly more effective in greens/black than other lasers through. So I would recommend a combination of different lasers for your treatments. With the picosure, the lower the number = the higher power. For instance, a setting of 3.0 is more powerful than a setting of 6.0
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Good luck on #5!
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Thanks! :) Good luck with the healing on yours!
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You are really having some amazing fading in 4 treatments! My tat is a cover too, and that does make it harder for removal. I do the Picosure, and it's great on blues and greens. My black is fading pretty slowly too. I'm skeptical as well, and wonder if full removal is possible. I pay $800 a session, and I've had 2. I'm going into my third in a few weeks. It's so expensive! I feel it's completely worth it to get my sanity back! Good luck, keep us updated.
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the fading looks dramatic. definetly do a side-by-side if possible. The red is responding very well with the medlite. It looks like the yellow is going to be a problem. After one treatment on the green in my tattoo, it turned yellow and I have a feeling the picosure is not going to remove the yellow, so we will all be in the same boat trying to find a cobination of lasers to remove yellow. The black looks faded to me but couldn't hurt to try the q-switched just on the black one time (with a lot of rest/healing in between. Looks good!
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all of my greens turned yellow immediately too with a q-switch but have lightened again some after a few treatments. doesn't yellow respond ok to the ruby?
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I don't know if there's a good laser out there for the yellow yet. I'll do some research and see if I can find one that picks it up better than the picosure.
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I am getting the picosure on a flower tattoo with pretty much the same colors (green, black, red, yellow). It worked great on the green- in fact my green was basically all gone after the first session. The effect on the black has been obvious, but less, on the black after 2x now. No impact at all on the red or yellow- which the technician thought would be the case. She says she'll start treating the red after another session or two, with another laser. I have my third session tomorrow, I will check what setting it is at and maybe start a post if I can get my pics. It's a long journey, for sure. I have decided to go for full treatment since I think my biggest problem is the visibility on my calf. I adore my back tattoo- and adore that I can hide it. Your location seems a great spot for a beautiful cover-up if you have a good idea and artist.
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And I want to add that your black does seem to be fading! I agree with Eva that a die-by-side comparison would be helpful for us, but mostly for you to really compare!
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You should write a review. I would love to see a picture of your tattoo, it sounds pretty similar to mine. I have had pretty much the same results so far, with the exception of the red. Will they be treating yours with the medlite? I've been really impressed with the results from that laser so far. Good luck with your treatments! I'd love to see your progress!
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