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Tattoo Removal - Tedious Process but Worth It

First of all, this is a *really* long process and...

First of all, this is a *really* long process and one should understand this from the beginning. It's not instantaneous. I'm having 3 tattoos lasered and it's been a year already since I've begun treatments.

My tattoos are black ink (supposedly easier to remove via laser than other colored inks) and aren't particularly large. The laser treatments are usually spaced about 7 weeks apart and due to cost I alter which tattoo is being treated during each session. My smallest tattoo is about $100 per treatment and my largest is $350. The locations are my ankles and left upper arm.

The good: My tattoos are finally fading - some better than others. I have a grouping of little symbols on my ankle which have responded very well after only 2 treatments.

Another plus is that you don't have to fork over thousands of dollars right off the bat., You pay per session so it gives you time to come up with the payment ever 2 months.

The bad: These laser treatments are basically burning your skin and your skin responds as such. There are often blisters. It's so important to take care of the treated area afterwards (using the steroid cream & aquaphor). I wasn't so vigilant at first and ended up with an infection on my ankle from a broken blister.

Another issue is that ankle tattoos are so common, but the ankle area doesn't heal all that wonderfully. My arm barely even blisters and the redness is gone in a few days. My ankles, however, take longer to heal - just a more sensitive area overall.

Oh yes, another negative. Laser tattoo treatments are painful! I opt for local anesthetic, but went without one time when I was not injected thoroughly. Wow. I felt like I was being tortured! The doctor told me some people really do go without the lidocaine and I cannot imagine.

As I've said, I'm still going through this process so I'll update later on.

All in all, if it's worth it to you to erase the past by having your tattoos removed, then it's worth it! Do I wish I never got the darn things - well sure, but I did so this is the second best thing!

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Comments (10)

I'm getting a 22-square-inch around-the-upper-arm tattoo removed using a Q-switched Ruby laser. I have just used the numbing cream. The first session took ten minutes and, while I wouldn't have wanted to go through it much longer, it really didn't hurt very much. To my amazement, the blue ink faded at least 75% immediately. Time will tell with the other color.
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I completely agree about the 6-10 standard treatments not being the rule. I was told underlying color may have something to do with it. For example, my tattoos were supposedly "black" but really the ink has a bit of a bluish tint and thus they used lasers to deal with that. I have really only had an average of 4 treatments each on my tattoos over the past 2 or so yrs ($ is an issue as I have 2 small children). Anyway I noticed that even though it's been months since my last treatment, the artwork continued to fade some. I'm skeptical of everything, but they really don't look bad for only having few treatments. I plan to complete the removal process when I can financially. 2 of my tattoos were actually cover ups so there was a lot of ink to deal with and again, given my low # of treatments, relative success. Maybe try several opinions - different lasers perhaps? I also have no hyperpigmentation, but I do have one little scar...I picked t a scab once during treatment and had since learned to leave blisters alone. Over the summer, I wore tank tops etc and I'm a little self concious about my arm tattoo because it looks old and faded...like cheap artwork or something! But my end goal is to fade it even more so I will deal with this stage - much like growing out a bad haircut!
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I had a few tattoos removed, some in the early 90s which left me w permanent hypopigmentation. Some pigmentation has returned oer the years but it looks like a white patches of where the tattoo used to be. I probably should consult a dermatologist about what could posibly be done to regain pigment. If some of it has returned to the area, I have some hope. If anyone has experienced some permanent hypopigmentation and improvement please email me. I also have a black tattoo being removed on my ankle and I kid you not, it has taken 6 years. I am still going through treatments. The txs are spaced 2 months apart due to the time to heal. Its almost gone, but the process is a long one. Unless your tattoo is significantly faded, old, or the ink is not placed deep, you will have a lot of treatments. The standard 6-10 treatments doctors say it takes to remove a professional tattoo does not apply to all tattoos. Location of the tattoo matters.
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its been almost a week and a day after my first session and right now its kinda oozing and all the skin is peeling and dry and looks disgusting, do you put anything on yours to help the dryness? the person who does my removal said 3/4 weeks which i'm not sure is enough time, but thank you for your insight!
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So, how does it look like? Did get better? Is it gone? I am considering remove mine but I am very afraid of getting a scar. Could yoy kindly update us? Many thanks
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For dryness I use polysporin. And I also believe 3/4 weeks is not enough time, from much of research the tattoo will continue to fade away up to 6-8 months so I like to space it out a lot especially since financially it is hard for me to go every 4-6 weeks and why waste money if the laser process is still gradually fading away the tattoo for months after the procedure.

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Hi! I'm actually on day 4 of one of my treatments right now and it usually takes time for fading to occur. (Right now, I've got some blistering, but no real soreness, itching, etc..) I guess it really depends on our own bodies and how efficiently they eliminate the ink. How far appart are your treatments? Mine are about 7 weeks apart and I probably notice some improvement after a few weeks. It really depends. My arm tattoo is fading much more quickly than my ankle, but I don't think the ink took very well from the original tattoo. My arm tattoo was already a bit faded even before I began the laser process. This was odd too, because the same guy tattooed both so who knows!
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hi can you let me know more on your process how many days should it be until yu start noticing fading, mine is currently peeling its been 6 days and itchy
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This was excellent information for those considering laser tattoo removal. The key term you used is "tedious", and I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, many patients don't want to accept this as a fact and believe that being overly aggressive in treatments will render quicker, better results. The trade off may very well be a permanent scar in the shape of the tattoo you are trying to remove! Removing tattoos is quite a skill wherein technology, skill, and skin type make all the difference. Yes, it hurts quite a bit even with topical numbing measures. However, the procedure is quite fast compared to placing a tattoo. Hopefully, that adds some comfort to those concerned with the pain issue. We used a Zimmer cooling machine that blows ice cold air on the skin the entire time. Most of our patients say that this was far more helpful (and free)than the numbing options. It also helps reduce trauma to the epidermis. Thank you for sharing your experience. Lori Haney, RN, MEP-C Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer

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Thanks for a great review! Are you taking photos after each session? I'd be curious to see what the progress looks like, if you don't mind sharing.
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