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.

10 Comments

Hi and thanks so much for your review. It really is so important to go to someone you trust. I'd love to know the name of your doc as I am in Louisiana and am not having much luck finding someone I trust. I had tattoos over my eyebrows 15 years ago and had several treatment by another tattoo artist to remove the ink. It is still there but very faded, not enough; however, for me to not be self conscious. I'm scared of oxidation making it worse. I think i would cry. So until I feel right with a doctor, I am unwilling to move forward. Thanks again so much for your review. If you want to e-mail me your docs name, I wouldn't mind but either way, good luck and post if you continue to have treatments. Thanks.
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Hey Dorothy, I am in the tri state area, far from Louisiana, but I am currently being treated by Dr. Evan Zellinger. So far, he's only done one treatment but the results are more promising. Most of the places I had gone to (even to get opinions/consults) had techs using the laser, and I have seen and had bad experiences with them. I do know how frustrating this is and I feel fortunate to have found a place that has no practicing technicians. I have heard that art tattoo ink and makeup tattoo ink are different (as in the inks have different chemical makeups), BUT I'm not 100% sure on that, so don't hold me to that. I do know that all inks contains metals though :( so discoloration is always a possibility as they say. I do hope you find someone worthy, it sure does seem like a daunting task huh?

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience in such detail, this is a very helpful review! I hope you get the results you are after and look forward to your updates. 

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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!.

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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.

13 Comments

The fading is amazing! I wish I was at that point!! Best of luck to you!
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I really appreciate you posting this. Even though my tattoo is larger and more colorful, it gives me hope. I would be happy if my tattoo ever got close to where yours is now! I agree with you in that I will never undergo this process on any of my other tattoos (even though that was the original plan), and would encourage people to think long and hard before beginning this process. It takes an immense toll. But thank you for your words of wisdom and hope you have given to others not so far along in the process!
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Thanks, I honestly nvr thought this would take this long which is why I shared my story. I am kinda mad b/c multiple clinics told me it would be gone in under a year but now I know better. Luckily I found a qualified doctor who is honest and upfront, and now I see the reality..so yes, nvr again! You have to be very patient though, and find the right treatment for you. It's def a challenge but luckily this website exists so that we can all share our experiences. You're still relatively early in so my advice is just try not to focus on it and keep in mind that you are doing what you can and allowing yr body the time it needs to do the work. Our bodies are truly amazing, but we have to listen to them. Best of luck to you :)

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

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What a wonderful way to start 2014, your tattoo removal project sounds nearly complete! Great progress, you should be so proud!! It's so true that the ink continues to fade over the year, I have have run into people who are in the process of removal and one guy in particular showed me his tattoo on his forearm, he has only had one treatment and it's 6 months later and he still is seeing fading. Please do keep us updated :)
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Thanks Eva- it has def been a long time coming! It was difficult at first b/c the 1st clinic I went to told me to hurry back every 8wks and get treatment but I'm glad I took my time, as I saved money and am seeing much better results now. Appt. got pushed back again now to the 14th b/c of my schedule but I will update soon after. I hope yr doing well :)
Good decision on waiting, I feel that every removal is individual, healing time and fading varies, so for any clinic that pushes for set times such as 6-8 weeks is just giving general information. It's a costly treatment so the longer you can wait the better for you bank and your skin. 

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!

4 Comments

Frosting is a great sign!! Congrats on another treatment! If this thing were a hundred lap race you must be in the last five laps now. Look forward to seeing the pics! :)
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damn, that thing should be almost completely gone. crazy. and I dont look either. cant.
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Yeah it's def on its way out...but I am OCD in some ways...so lol :) If it was anywhere else on me, i'd have had the damn thing covered up w/ a new tatt like months ago. Ah well...

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

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Thanks Wilks! I feel like I am almost done the marathon..I think treatment #8 was the turning point for me...so weird really. I hope yrs is healing well; I don't see mine taking nearly as long to heal as last sessions'
Don't get me wrong tho, I do love ink....mine's just so outta place...1 crappy tatt on my wrist. It had to go.

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 :)

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Exciting that this could potentially have been your last treatment! I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with it in the coming weeks. I do hope you'll stick around here though, your support to myself and others has been fantastic.
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Thanks Wilks! I do believe this may be it, and even if I need one more it should pan out to be good b/f summer so I'm pretty stoked. I will def be around here for a while longer- having this support has meant a great deal to me and I'd like to be able to help others too...how's yr healing coming along?
That's awesome. Your patience and persistence is paying off!! Really good to hear, and like you say, if you need another one it'll likely fall between now and summer, which works out great!! Healing is going ok, I think. I have some fresh pink skin going on from where the blisters scabbed and came off. Emailed my technician today to see if I should be putting something on it and she recommended to leave it alone whilst it does it's thing and then get the bio oil slathered on once it's appeared to have healed after another couple of weeks or so. I hate this stage, when the area looks like utter crap following a treatment, so (and this probably sounds weird) I'm actively making an effort not to look at it at the moment, like in the shower and things. I'm getting pretty good at keeping it out of my peripheral vision when I'm topless. Jeez that sounds crazy!

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.

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Yeah, I personally found the most brutal treatments to be like sessions 3-5.....6 wasn't too bad but 7 was (I believe that's b/c the tech didn't have the proper laser settings). But as the ink goes so should the severity of each session. I personally switch right from aquaphor (vaseline) to lotion/oil after the area scabs, which was usually about a week (less now) after treatment. That's weird that yr tech doesn't recommend anything for a few weeks, but if it's super pink and delicate, I guess it is best to just let it heal. I know what you mean though, the healing stage is gnarly looking - but it will pass. I have a cuff I wear out to hide my tatt so I know what you mean...it's best sometimes not to look at it (as not to obsess) but make sure to occasionally baby it and keep it happy and moisturized. It will continue to fade and heal- and sometimes w/ the more brutal treatments, they may just need a bit more time to heal. Stay positive though, you have come a long way and have made great progress!!

BF pic

39 Comments

Hey man! I had a look at your review, and I am so jealous of you success. But 9 treatments in 2 years? Why did you choose to wait so long between treatments? I honestly couldn't be that patient. Your dedication is truly inspiring.
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Hey thanks- yes I feel like I have come a long way, a lot further than I even imagined I would honestly! Like I said in my blog, I was originally quoted at about 5-6 treatments max (a year) spacing them every 2mo apart and I paid upfront for 5 so I was kinda stuck w/ that place in which case looking back, I regret being trapped w/ them b/c I didn't feel as though they had the best treatment for what I was paying. The techs there were all over the place and would vary treatments/techs and forget previous laser settings and I started to notice scarring/redness nearing my 5th/6th treatment. I honestly only chose to go there b/c of their laser but once I found a Dr who also treated w/ the Medlite C6, he told me that spacing treatments every 4+ months was actually beneficial. I also found that out from after my 5th treatment- when I was done w/ the package plan I had paid for and was apprehensive to move forward (or believe anything they had said previously) b/c I knew I needed at least 3 more...so I took time off to consult elsewhere and in that time, I noticed it continue to fade as well as the scarring/redness subside. I am a big advocate for waiting 3-5mo b/w treatments b/c you reduce scarring/redness, save money and continue to see results. I guess everyone is different but this is what worked for me. Also I found myself getting kinda ill (literally) from the laser trauma and I wanted to give my body a rest. Either way, I think I'm done but I still want to wait a few more months and see what more fading I get, esp w/ a suntan :)
I also think that going every 2 months brings more money to the clinics so they push for 2months as the "standard" to get that flow of $$$$$ :) imagine if people only went 2 or 3 times a year...those clinics would be pissed!!

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....

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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!!! ?

29 Comments

AMAZING. I have two wrist tattoos (one on each wrist) and have just finished my 4th session. The fading is obvious but the tattoos are still there and I continue to watch people's eyes move right toward my wrists during any interaction. The whole process has been mind wrenching because after every session I have the unrealistic hope that the whole thing will just be over. This leads me to dismiss the slow progress that is occurring once I come down from the thought of the tattoo simply being gone. Your posts and progress give me hope that by summer 2015 I won't be dreading short sleeves. Thank you for posting!
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amazing!
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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
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Get treatment by a Doctor instead of a med spa.

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