2 Yrs Post Late Stage Tattoo Removal~Give Yourself Time (And Be Realistic)

Ok, so I don't even know where to start. I guess I...

Ok, so I don't even know where to start. I guess I will start out by thanking everyone on here for their stories. I discovered this website a few months ago at about my 6th session into laser tattoo removal. Seeing your stories and words of advice has helped me and now I would like to be able to help someone else too by sharing my story.

So in Dec 2011, I decided I wanted to get a tattoo removed on my wrist. It is an all black outline spiral about 1.5" (I am Caucasian). I just got a new job and was making good money, so I figured it would be best too just laser it off. I remember researching my options...and there was so much to chose from...from laser types, to clinics, not to mention all of the b/f & after photos on the web. I kept hearing the Medlite C6 was one of the best, so I called a local med spa that had it. I guess I was more concerned about using this specific laser than worrying about the clinic. From my understanding, the ink just gets broken down, and dispelled by your body. Cool, I could handle that. So upon my consult, the consultant looked at my tattoo and said it could be gone in 4-6 sessions max, spaced every 2 months apart. I figured a year of torture was not bad...and when she offered me a package deal of 5 treatments at a cheaper cost (it was still expensive), I went with it. I did ask A LOT of questions about the process, the pain, the results, my expectations (100% clearance), side effects, and even how it works in regards to the laser settings. She reassured me about all of my concerns. She was very assuring that I would get 100% clearance and in under a year. I should have known better though when she basically just told me "ahh, the laser breaks up the ink and then you bandage it and out you go".

Either way, I went with it. I started my 1st session in Dec 2011. They did offer me the numbing cream or the lidocaine injections, but I opted only for the numbing cream. Honestly, the cream did not help much at all. It hurt really bad the 1st time, I guess b/c of all of the ink. I was bandaged up and out I went. I had no idea though, that it would burn the skin so bad. I just was so hopeful that underneath it all, my tattoo would have faded. It did fade, so I continued along every 2 months, but did not use the numbing cream again. Nearing my 3rd and 4th treatments, I did notice that the ink was not fading as much anymore. It was very slightly, but not at the rate it started out fading. Still, the trauma to my skin was always just as bad every time. I kept thinking, if I make it to #6, I will be done. I was also a little upset b/c every time I went in for a session, I was treated by a different technician. They each had their own techniques too. Some just passed the laser one time, others two. One treatment would be more damaging than the other, some would heal faster, and some had better/worse results. One technician even asked me how it was treated the last time...like I was supposed to know? I got discouraged and told my consultant that I wanted one tech to treat my tattoo from here on out. She was ok with that, but I was a little disappointed by their bedside manner. So after the 5th treatment, it was still there. Only then, there was this redness starting to form over the whole tattoo. I knew it was due to the laser burn, so I actually stopped treatment for 4 months. The redness did subside slowly, but still remained. Then I decided, let's get this over with. I wanted to continue treatment with the MedliteC6 (didn't know of any others in the area using it) so I called back to schedule another session (#6) which healed kind of the same: little results, redness reoccurred. I waited then 3+months. I figured I would try 1 more time, and I set up #7. When I was there, I told the tech that I was really over the whole process and that I was worried it would never be gone. She just said, hey it could take 10+ times, and no guarantee...which was not what my consultant ever mentioned. I was upset, and told her that this would be my last time. I shouldn't have, b/c I know she turned up the laser hoping to get me the best results....but doing so made me have major trauma to my skin. I remember the scar covered the whole area of the tatt, even on the areas of my skin where there was no ink. It was bad. I think that was the session that caused the hyperpigmentation. Needless to say, I never went back to that place again. I also recently found out that they changed the name of their spa (hmmm...shady)

Anyways, 4months after #7, I was still stuck with this outline. Only now, I was beginning to realize the redness/browning was very apparent and did not go away like it used to. Recovery from #7 was the worst too, and I knew it was b/c of the tech. I reached out to get some second opinions, I even contacted the manufacturer of a few lasers and they all said that the Medlite C6 was a good machine, it's just that not all technicians can operate one properly. I finally came across an actual Doctor. He was very kind and sympathetic to my situation and said that the technicians who treated me we too aggressive, which led to the hyperpigmentation. He said that the consultant should never have promised me 100% removal or given me a set number of required treatments. He said most treatments will take 10+ times at minimal. He also said that if their machine was not calibrated properly, it would not do it's job to the best of its ability. I asked his honest opinion on continuing treatment w/o further trauma and he told me it could be done and would fade w/ another session, but that it was still too red from the last treatment. He advised me to come back in a month. The redness did go down some, so he opted to treat it. I was nervous, but surprisingly, it did not hurt nearly as bad and did not get nearly as red. It still frosted though, so i know it worked. I truly believe the 1st spa did a poor job: poor technicians, poor equipment, poor treatment.

So now here I am, 3 weeks post treatment #8. It has healed really well considering how it used to heal (in regards to the lasting trauma), and it has faded some, but still not to my liking. The lines look blown out/wider and brown...I can only hope this is a result of the final bits of ink. I do know, however, that I am waiting a minimum of 4mos in b/w treatment now and I will only go to the Doctor for treatment (if I continue treatment). My skin is just too exhausted. If I see substantial fading and this redness subsides, I may be open to it. I know (hope) it will continue to fade as it's only been 3 weeks post treatment. However, if this redness remains and the ink doesn't fade much, I think I am just going to be done with this whole process. My Doc did tell me, however, that it is imperative to wait a minimum of a few months (4-5) b/w treatments in their final stages. He said the body does most of the work to cleanse the ink. He also said that the redness would subside, but that that could take up to a year or more from the final treatment! I just wish I had gone to him from the get-go and was informed of all of this...I feel deceived by the 1st med spa. Either way, I know I am in good hands now and I know that I have options...to either wait it out for months and go treatment by treatment or get a cover up. Regardless, I have to let TIME do its thing.

Anyways, I guess what it boils down to from my experience:
1. this process sucks and it takes A LONG time
2. 100% fading is NOT guaranteed.
3. Be wary of who you allow to treat you. I would stay away from med spas.
4. Wait long times in b/w treatments (3-4 mo) as the ink will still fade and give yr skin time to heal.
5. Take care of yourself with plenty of exercise/water/aftercare.
6. Get multiple opinions from an experienced DOCTOR.

I also wanted to add that I personally would NEVER go through this again on any other tattoo. This is no joke. It hurts. It's very costly. It takes a toll on you physically and emotionally (I do believe the release of the ink toxins can play a role too...so I'm not just talking about the pain of the laser). And in order to get the best results in regards to 100% possible fading and healing, you are looking at YEARS of treatment, and at least a year to allow the remnants (redness/browning) to subside. I do like tattoos, I just didn't want this one b/c it was a poor design and on my wrist (very noticeable and poorly done). I do have a few other tattoos that are done technically very well, and I would never get rid of them. I have advised a few others on here to rethink the laser, especially on really nice tattoos that are larger. I guess just knowing that undergoing removal on a relatively smaller tattoo is this bad for me, I would want to help someone out there who thinks this is just a matter of getting over the pain of the laser session and the initial healing. Let me be the first to tell you that is much much more. It gets to your head.

I do wish everybody luck out there going through this, and it's great to know that a community like this exists. It has helped me a lot and I hope my story can do the same for someone else.


*I only started documenting my removal from after treatment #5 b/c I believed that it would have been gone by then. Once it wasn't, I wanted to see for myself if it was fading and then started taking photos/documenting. I am going to post pics below, sorry for the variance in lighting.

5 weeks post session 8I figured s

Hey guys...so I have been commenting a lot and figured I should update too. Since my previous pics are all basically my results months after each treatment, I'm going to post some pics to show my progress 5wks after my last session (#8). Still some slight discoloration (redness) and ink remaining, but overall I am happy with the results :) Healing was a breeze compared to last couple of treatments, so I am optimistic that my skin is in good hands now w/ my current doctor. Since I am going to wait it out a few more weeks/possibly months until my next session, I am hopeful that the ink will continue to fade and that the redness will subside. Hopefully 1, maybe 2 more treatments until this is over! I am happy though, and as long as I continue to see fading and ink remaining, I will undergo the laser.

First 2 pics are of today. Second 2 pics are side by sides. Again sorry for variance in lighting, I must be part chameleon or something. I am going for 100% removal here, but we'll see!.

TYPOS

Don't know what's up w/ the last title, sorry. Must have hit ctrl+c or ctrl+v somewhere along the update. It should simply read: 5 Weeks Post Session 8.
the end.

Check-in w/ Dr, possible blast (#9)...

Hello everyone- I hope you all had a great New Years and Holiday season! I am very hopeful that 2014 will be the year to put this mess behind me once and for all :) I am scheduled for a check-up w/ my Dr this week to get his feedback on where he thinks I stand. It has been approximately 15wks since my last blast session- in that time, I have noticed it fade ever so slightly. The main thing I did notice the most though, has been that my skin texture has mellowed out A LOT in that time; the redness (even the brown) has subsided majorly and the texture is basically back to normal. I seriously believe that allowing all this time in b/w treatments has made each blast session more effective, as the laser does not have to struggle w/ any kind of scar tissue (or textural differences) to get thru in order to target the ink way at the bottom. I still see remnants of ink left, esp on the right side of the tatt as the left side has all but vanished for the most part. If the few remaining darker areas could get to where the other faded lines are, I will be happy to cease treatment. Still, I am open to his suggestions, as he told me last time I got lasered that I may not even need any more treatments and that it is possible it could fade out over the next year....yet I think one, maybe 2 more blasts should do the trick coupled w/ a nice amt of sunshine in the summer to all but camouflage the "ghost".

I am very optimistic in general though, as I continue to see this thing fade w/ no complications. I also agree w/ what many others have said in regards to documenting - it is imperative to do such as the fading occurs practically at a snail's pace - so it can only basically be "seen" in the time lapse of weeks/months. I hope everyone is doing well w/ their removals; I keep seeing updates and positive results so I'm happy for everyone. It is a rough journey indeed, but patience is key as we all very well know. I will update again after my appt. Take care

Blast #9

Ok- so I went in for my check-up and Doc said I was good to go for another blast. The pain was not nearly as bad as the last session but that's b/c there is such little ink left I assume. After it was blasted, I looked down at it real quick b/f it was bandaged (I never watch when I am getting it lasered- the laser bugs me out haha)...it looked frosted and well treated, but not overly treated. So basically, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow after I take the bandage off..? I may still need another treatment but, again, I am advised to wait 4+months in b/w treatments...yet, I personally found the fading to be the best at like the 3rd month concerning my last session, so who knows it could all hopefully just fade into oblivion.

I will update w/ pics tomorrow to show the damage and will continue to update throughout the next few weeks after it heals. I am stoked though, as the laser is not picking up much more ink so I am seeing an end to this...I guess I'll just have to wait and see!

The Damage from #9

So here's what lies beneath...still get that pinpoint bleeding- but overall, the trauma doesn't look that bad and it looks at though it will clear up in about a week or 2. It is not sore unless I bump it and it not on fire or anything. All in all, I'm pretty happy w/ what I see. It's really hard to tell but b/c I know my tatt well, I still see a few deposits of ink behind the redness...I am hoping this ink was hit last night and is on its way out...drinking massive amts of water as I type... :) ;) ;p

1wk Post #9

Only a week out, but figured I'd update...so far the area is healing very well. Again, redness is apparent and some of the scabbing has yet to fall off. Underneath it all though, I am very happy. When I massage lotions/oils into that tatt and the redness goes away for that second, I am very pleased to see that 90% of the tatt is no longer even visible. I know from my last treatment that the redness and browning did fade away, so that does not concern me like it once did. The way I see it now is that, b/c of the laser trauma, I have to replenish/maintain this skin and work massive amts of lotions/oils into it to keep it fully moisturized, maintain the texture and promote fading.

I do have a feeling this may have been my last treatment, even though I see a few deposits of ink in the upper right area of the tatt. Hopefully this will fade out w/ the next few weeks/mos- but even if not, i'm not sure if that would bother me b/c the tatt as a whole doesn't appear legible anymore...more like a mini scar so I am cool w/ that. I guess more time will guide me to decide that decision...I'll update again after a few more weeks..I hope all of you are doing well :)

Bf & After

Sorry to keep updating...I finally found an old pic of me when my tatt was visible bf any laser treatment. The tatt is like 10yrs old but the pic is like 4yrs old. I had to crop it and blow it up so it's all pixelated out but you get the point. Even now looking at it, I'm blown away by the progress..the outline was SO dense (and terrible..what was I thinking??) but I am hoping it's a way to show others the progress and see that this removal process is possible.

BF pic

10wks post treatment#9

Hey guys...so I've been patiently waiting on the sidelines (still checking in here and there) and figured I should update. It's been approx 10wks post treatment #9 and I am still waiting it all out, waiting until at least mid-May (4 months post treatment #9) to gauge the fading and perhaps get one more blast. As I have mentioned and noticed throughout this whole journey- this takes massive (MASSIVE) patience and the results dwindle nearing the end, which is really the kicker through it all :(....

Still however, when I compare pics of where I am now and where I was in mid Jan (15wks post treatment 8) I do see progress. On the downside, it appears as though I see less and less progression in terms of fading (1st treatment I saw the most, 2nd I saw less, 3rd, less, etc etc...) anyways..blah. I am just really happy to be at this point, as I feel as though it is very illegible and something I could cope and live with. I have to admit, winter here on the east coast was brutal this year (it made history!) and I failed to be as active as I usually am. I am an avid cyclist, so I had to resort to hiking which kept me really busy needless to say (although I was bundled like an eskimo) however I prefer to bike...so basically, I have to admit I wasn't as active as I would have liked to have been as I'm not much for gyms. Anyways, I am still very happy w/ my results. It's slowly getting warmer and I have biked a few times so I am getting back into my groove thankfully :) I also must add that I am very, very pale now as my tan from the summer is gone and perhaps that makes the ink remnants stand out more??? So needless to say, I am hoping that getting some sun in the next few months will help camo this residual ghost.

Again, I may be open to 1 more treatment, but i don't think I could handle more than that, as this journey is wearing me thin. If I do go forward, I will have my doc put it on a high frequency and lower spot size or whatever to target the last bit of residual ink. I am still hopeful though- as I may still see fading throughout the next few months, but regardless, i am in no immediate rush for another session. Again I will stress, at least for me, my regime consists of waiting an letting my body kill off this ink. I honestly believe my body works just as hard as the laser- it's just that the laser is instant combustion in terms of the ink and the body is not...the body takes time to clean this mess up. I still see results/fading so I'm happy. Although the results are minimal, I will post pics of now and a side by side of last session's healing (#8) to now (#9). Good luck to everyone out there....

BTW....

...oh and btw, yes, for all of you out there....I am very much detail oriented and slightly OCD so when I seek out "complete removal", I mean complete removal, as I am not looking for a cover up. Sorry if you guys think I am "done" or whatever, but as compulsive as I am, I am not done until I see no traces- and I still see a few blips. So here goes nothing...I guess we'll see. If I end up w/ small ghost traces or bits of ink, I'll be down w/ that as a reminder of this journey (although I'd rather they all just go but it is what it is).....All I know is that I'm reaching my breaking point, ready to be done w/ this and so far, I'm pretty confident I will be content w/ the my results forever (1 more treatment or not) from here on out by the summer so I am stoked to acknowledge that.

It's been a long a$$ journey...no pun intended w/ that $$$ sign lol!!! For real though, be patient and please allow yrself time, love yr bodies and treat them well after this laser, ugh!!! ?
Name not provided

Get treatment by a Doctor instead of a med spa.

Was this review helpful? 13 others found this helpful

Comments (111)

Sort by

amazing!
  • Reply
Wow that looks amazing. I have so many more sessions under my belt than you and didnt' see nearly that great of fading that quickly
  • Reply
Wow!! Looks awesome. Definitely worth the time invested.
  • Reply
Thanks :) I am happy w/ the results but def a lot of time invested...just glad it's over :) i do see patience in a whole new way now so that's a cool twist haha!!
  • Reply
wow! your recovery looks so good! I have a question hopefully it's not already asked... I have a tattoo (2 words in cursive) on my wrist, it's in black ink. I've so far done 4 sessions and it's still black, the thick parts of the words are black but breaking up a little, and the thin parts are fading into a brown. I'm getting so discouraged because it's still so noticeable, I see almost no change... Since you don't have any early pictures, can you please tell me the first few sessions, did you notice significant change and fading?
  • Reply
Hi- thanks for yr comment :) Looking back, I actually saw the tatt get kinda darker (the color) after the 1st/2nd session, but the lines also got blown out/wider. It went from like a bluish black (original color) to a brownish black. I too was worried about the brown residue, but I have come to realize it's part of the process/change of the ink after laser hits it. I honestly didn't notice anything significant- it was a sloooow process after each session- a process that can only really be seen w/ time lapse pics of a few weeks/months. You should start a review here- or if not, at least document the pics for yrself. That is really the only way to notice change. Wrists are a tough spot and supposedly fade a little slower than the core of the body, but they do. Also, IMO, it's better to go a little slower than to overtreat the area and caus scarring. But then again, yr clinic may be undertreating...hard to say.....try and post some pics if you can!!
  • Reply
thank you for this review! I've been following your story for awhile and am really glad to see you getting good results now after your nightmare at the medspa. Your experience has helped me so much in setting my expectations and looking for the right doctor!
  • Reply
Awesome- so glad I could help!! Seriously, there are our body's factors that play into account w/ removal- but a HUGE factor is the experience of the person on the other end of the laser. W/ improper settings and a poor regiment, they could scar you for life. I'm so glad I found the Dr I have now...I knew he was honest and out for my best interest when he told me to WAIT longer...so obviously he wasn't out for just my money. He was right though- after going to him I have seen fantastic results. I know the technology is amazing, but if you can't handle it properly then what good is it? Are you going through w/ removal or considering it??
  • Reply
I am considering it for a tattoo on the right side of my stomach. After 3 babies, it's not looking so 'hot' anymore ;D
  • Reply
Ok cool- just do yr research w/ the surrounding clinics if you do go ahead w/ removal...be cautious of "their" client pics and their ACTUAL client pics. The stomach is close to the heart/core, so fading could be decent there. Never fun in any way, but removal there may be possible...this website is great for support and advice :)
  • Reply
Wow! You have so much fading. Hopefully I'll see results like yours :).
  • Reply
Thank you so much- it's been one heck of a journey!!
  • Reply
Hey there just checking in, have you decided if you are going to have another treatment or not?
  • Reply
Hey Eva- yes I think I am..it's been just over 3mo now since my last blast but I want to wait at least 4-6mo to be sure, as it is slowly still fading. If I do go ahead, I might even wait til after the summer b/c honestly, I only see myself needing 1 more- it is so faded, just a couple of blips of ink here and there that I hardly notice. Either way I'm in no rush- it's funny it doesn't bother me at all like it once used to b/c it's so faded so I'm fine just waiting to see what more time does. Thanks for asking- how's your removal coming along?
  • Reply
I think it would be awesome to wait until after summer for the reasons you mentioned and just seeing what your system and skin can do with that time. Keep us posted and thanks for the great review so far.
  • Reply
Thanks J :) yeah..that's the direction I think I'm going to take -breeze through the summer, enjoy it, and pan the results after. It def can't hurt to give my skin more time to chill out!! My body is still doing it's thing so I want to give it that time and give it a rest. Are you going through removal? Either way, thanks for the support! :)
  • Reply
Definitely enjoy summer - if only the sun would show it's rays here in Ontario! It is still so cold :(  Well, big news, I started my cover up - you can check out my review to see. I was going to hold off till I had more sessions, but thought it would be a good update and felt bad holding out :) 
  • Reply
What a journey, I too am in the process of removing my wrist tattoo. What laser are you using? Your results are amazing! Your pictures are definitely giving me hope!
  • Reply
Thank you- I read yr story and saw yr blog- you seem to doing really well and I think you will see really good results w/ patience! I am using the MedliteC6 laser- it's a great laser in my opinion and taking time in b/w sessions really helped me see the best results. I hope you are doing well :)
  • Reply
GREAT REVIEW!!! It's so hard to find someone that keeps up with post op pictures. Most stop posting after a few treatments. If I can get mine to to look as good as yours I'll be happy.
  • Reply
Thanks :) it has been a very long journey and I needed to see if I was seeing continued progress. I'm glad it helped. You should post a review if you are getting treatment..it's helpful to see your progress- and if not, at least keep pics for yrself as fading occurs at a snail's pace.
  • Reply
Hi, great review! I was really keen to read it because I believe your tattoo is rather similar to mine. It looks like you've made great progress and i'm interested to see how it turns out for you! I definitely hope mine fades that much by treatment number 9, i'm nearly 3 weeks post treatment number 2 (by a doctor) and I feel like i'm not seeing much happen (I think they are being very conservative in their treatments), so reading this kind of raises my motivation and helps me realise it is a lengthy process but it can be done. Thank you!
  • Reply
Hey bluejayway- thanks! I feel like this blog not only helps me but others who are going through this (as minimal as my tatt is), so I'm glad it helped :) I saw yr review and you are def very early on. How long are you waiting b/w treatments? From my experience, I didn't see much fading early on persay- more like I saw a greater reaction to the ink in the early stages, and it would fade out over the next few weeks/months. It's really hard to tell unless you document w/ photos, which I see you are doing. Yr Doc may be being very conservative w/ treatments in order not to cause any scarring so that is wise of him, still you do want to see progress and a reaction to the laser. Do you see yr tatt "frost" after each treatment? This whole process is extremely long and you are very early in so you need to try and maintain as much patience as you can- that is the hardest part in my opinion.
  • Reply
Thanks for replying! Between my 1st and 2nd treatment, I waited 6 weeks although I did plan to wait longer but it was a combination of seeing no reaction and a special they had on during the month which prompted me to go again after just 6 weeks. I'm hoping to wait at least 2 months before my 3rd treatment, but that'll depend on how much fade I see I guess, if it continues to fade i'll be motivated to wait a little longer! I did see frosting during both treatments so that's a relief! On the bright side of all this, it definitely teaches a lesson in patience. Good things take time.
  • Reply
Yes, I waited 8wks b/w sessions 1-5, as that was recommended for me from the start at my 1st clinic. After the 5th session however, I noticed less fading and more scarring so I decided to wait longer and get second opinions/consults- and it wasn't until I did that that I found out how beneficial it was for me (waiting longer), which is why I now recommend it after the first few treatments. Just be wary of scarring- 6wks seems kind of close, but if yr Dr is not using that much power, you may be safe w/ that. It's good you saw frosting at least- that means it's working :)
  • Reply