Hi everyone! I got this small tattoo on my chest...
I got this small tattoo on my chest on December 27 2013. I was extremely disappointed in my artist's shoddy work and wanted someone else to fix it up. I then went and had a touch-up from a different artist on January 16 2014. He did a much better job, but it still was not to my satisfaction, and I spoke with him about it again, after which he offered a free touch-up. I had my second touch-up on February 6 2014. It was even better, but still wonky. I guess it really is difficult to fix something so small when initially it was a horrible piece of work. Attached below are photos of each of the tattoos, captioned "Tattoo 1"; "Tattoo 2"; "Tattoo 3".
I am now going to have this tattoo removed. I have done a lot of research into different tattoo removal methods, including Skinial and Tatt2Away, but I have settled on laser. I feel that currently, laser is the safest way to remove this tattoo without damaging my skin any further than the tattoo has already done.
I am desperate for an efficient removal method; I feel I just want to get rid of this tattoo and stop thinking about it, investing all my time, my energy and my worry into it. I am inclined towards the Picosure laser, as much of my personal internet research has heralded it as a new development in laser technology that promises to remove tattoos in much few treatments than Q-Switched lasers currently do. I understand that Picosure lasers are expensive and rare (especially in Australia) so my hopes are not too high that I will be able to get this treatment. In that case, I place a lot of hope on the R20 method of tattoo removal, which also promises to remove the tattoo in less time.
My main concern is with the overall time the removal process takes; I want the process to be as efficient as it can be and as safe as it can be and at this moment I am not too concerned about the cost of treatments. The complications regarding quick removal of the tattoo stem from the fact that it is extremely new, and has been gone over twice, so it is very dense with three layers of ink inside. Furthermore, the touch-ups were at intervals of three weeks apart, which may not have been the best for my skin. Not to mention the fact that I believe that the first artist scarred my skin during the first tattoo session, because the first tattoo is visibly whiter and stands out even after the two touch-ups have gone and covered the first tattoo. Also, I'm (although relatively fair-skinned) Asian, and Asians have different skin and scarring characteristics to Caucasians, which does not help my case.
Thus, I am very pessimistic about my chances for successful tattoo removal without unsightly scars or pigmentary changes. Nonetheless, this tattoo has given me so much stress; I think about it all day and it keeps me up at night worrying. It must go, and I am determined to see it through, although I'd rather it be sooner rather than later.
The Laser Tattoo Removal Success Ultimatum (for cases similar to mine, of course); My Previous Post
Alas, I'm making this one too long also... sorry!
Anyway, my name is Eric and I'm 19. I'm from Sydney, Australia and like many people in the world, I have a tattoo that I regret. I am now looking to get it removed by laser.
I joined realself.com with one sole intention - to provide a comprehensive review of my experiences to anybody who is in a similar position to me and has tattoo regret. I understand that most of the people who visit and post on this website reside in the USA, the UK and various European countries. Therefore, my focus will not be on reviewing the clinics and doctors I may visit; rather, it will simply be a comprehensive review that (I hope to) provide anyone wishing to have their tattoo removed with further insight as to whether it works or not. Obviously, everybody and every tattoo is different, so what might or might not work for me will be different to the next person, so to anyone looking for this procedure: don't stop at me, do more research!
The details surrounding my specific tattoos along with photos are in the previous post I submitted a few minutes ago, which is waiting to be approved by the realself.com staff. If I remember correctly, it is entitled "Laser Tattoo Removal; Black Dense Chest Tattoo; Asian Skin" or something like that. If it is not approved for some reason, I will make another post to provide specific details of my tattoos and photos.
I promise to update regularly and if you wish to speak to me about my experience, please feel free to do so. I will respond as promptly as I can, although inboxing me here on this site will be the best way to communicate with me. As I go through this journey, I encourage people to read my posts to inform themselves and ask me any questions should they need to. I genuinely want to help; that's why I joined this site.
The future ...
Tomorrow (Thursday March 6 2014) will be four weeks since my last tattoo touch-up, and I think I am ready to start the laser tattoo removal process.
I will soon be booking appointments at various clinics around my area (Sydney, Australia) for laser tattoo removal.
As I have posted earlier, I am interested in the R20 method and/or the Picosure laser.
I will update this post as soon as I have made my appointments to share with you guys where and with whom I am consulting about this process.
Intents and Purposes of My Posts
This is just a post to say to eveyone in the community here, that the sole reason I joined this site and made / will be making these reviews is for the benefit of people looking to have their tattoo removed.
I'm not sure if I made this clear enough in my previous introductory posts (as I tend to say a lot and I have a very abstract writing style and this leads to me not really getting to the point and saying what I need to ... I'm doing it now, by the way...), but the following will:
I understand that people stress a lot over their tattoo regrets and lose sleep, because I've been there and I've done that all.
I understand that people (in this day and age) turn to the internet for answers on almost everything.
I also understand, however, that people may not always find the answers to their questions.
I know that realself.com is full of people who share their stories of cosmetic procedures with the rest of the world. I am here to add to that.
I know that a lot of people who have tattoo regret and look for answers on the internet to questions like: does it really work? will it leave scars? will it do this? will it do that? how long will it take? how will I get through this?
I know that a lot of people are not satisfied with the answers (or lack thereof) they find. I therefore wish to add to this diverse community with my story, in the hopes that I may (oftentimes in conjunction with information from other sources) provide the answers to these questions. I am so very passionate about this in particular because I am one of these people who, at this moment, even after joining this site, am still very very pessimistic and uncertain of my chances of laser tattoo removal success (and by success I may complete removal with no scarring of pigment changes in my skin).
I know that I am yet to make a post about my treatment, yet I have posted a few reviews already. I'm sorry. I kind of treat this like a blog, because I feel that this is what it should be like.
Anyway, this was just to let you all know that I will be here sharing my whole journey with you in the hopes that someone in my situation in the future can glean some insight into this very uncertain procedure. That said, I do encourage other users of this site to communicate with me should they feel the need to. However, if this is a direct question that is somewhat urgent, I implore you to inbox me privately about it as this will mean I can respond as soon as possible. I will post a review about your question if you let me and if I feel it will help others, otherwise it'll just be between us. Everyone else, you guys can comment, but I can't guarantee that I will be able to respond to all of them from here on out - I am a very busy university student who's time is completely consumed by study, all day, five days a week.
And I know I have posted heaps of updates even before I've had the procedure, so I promise the next time I post something it will be directly related to my procedure.
Appointment booked for early next week!
I called up a few clinics today to try and book some consultations. The original plan was to book consultations at several clinics, then choose based on my impressions of these places. As always, nothing ever goes to plan.
The first clinic I called was Neutral Bay Laser & Dermatology Clinic in Neutral Bay, NSW. These guys have the only Picosure laser in the whole of Sydney spreading out across a 50 km radius. This is a great plus for me, because it means I have the option of using a Picosure laser in addition to their YAG's. Also, they have actual doctors and dermatologists who operate the laser, not just technicians who have been "trained". I hear most times, a head nurse operates the laser, though a GP can, too.
The second clinic I called was City Laser Clinic (in Sydney, Aus) and they said that they would only treat tattoos that are black, red and purple and won't treat tattoos if they are less than 6 months old. When I asked why, the receptionist said it was "because the ink hasn't set in the skin" yet. I think that has just about got to be the silliest thing I have ever heard. Even when she was saying she knew she sounded really stupid. Anyway, my tattoo is way less than 6 months old, so that was a no-go.
The third clinic I called was actually supposed to be really promising. The website says they are "Tattoo Removal Specialists" yet they are really only just a med spa for men. They're called Detail For Men. Perhaps I'd go there for a haircut or something, but I have doubts about their ability to perform laser tattoo removal.
Now, please note that I had really wanted to go to a place where they specialist ONLY in laser tattoo removal. However, the two in Sydney that do are in Dee Why and Revesby respectively, which are ages away. I would have preferred these places, because they would have way more experience, but it really is very impractical for me to get there.
Anyway, I called back the first place and made sure I could talk to the GP about laser removal and that she would be the one who operated the laser instead of the head nurse (even though apparently the head nurse does it more). I'll be talking to this GP about which laser I should use, whether or not my tattoo really has suffered tissue damage, and the treatment plan.
I may or may not have my first treatment on the same day of the consultation; I need to think about that in the meantime, but I'm really looking forward to talking to this doctor about my treatment.
If you guys have any thoughts, jump in.
Alternative to Laser Treament - A Quick Word
This is just a quick word about some alternative to laser tattoo removal. In particular, I want to talk about tattoo removal "creams" such as Skinial and Tatt2Away, which I seriously considered before settling on laser. For those who don't know, these treatments work by injecting lactic acid (what they call a "proprietary fluid") into the tattoo so that it will bind with the ink and the body will recognise it to be a foreign object, thus rejecting it through the surface of the skin. It is said that the ink will come up and out in the form of a scab which will fall off naturally and leave your skin without ink. Treatment is done in small circles 5 mm in diameter and 3 mm apart. It can get rid of all colours and has the same pain as getting the tattoo in the first place, as treatment is administered in a similar fashion.
However, this WILL leave a SCAR. There is absolutely no getting out of that. There are many pictures of "success" stories on the internet that show the tattoo gone and no scarring, but these photos have been edited.
Which brings me to a side point - be wary of ALL and ANY pictures of tattoo removal you find on the internet, as most of them are edited to make it look way better than it actually is.
But I digress.
Anyway, I finally decided on laser, because I did not want a huge scar in place of my tattoo. I would, however, not mind using Skinial or Tatt2Away on a much smaller tattoo - the scar wouldn't be that bad.
You guys can make up your own minds about it, I'm sure. I hope this information has been helpful.
Some Useful Information About Laser Tattoo Removal
I have downloaded some academic journal articles about laser tattoo removal.
'The Kirby-Desai Scale: A Proposed Scale to Assess Tattoo-removal Treatments' by Kirby et al. has been said to be very useful in determining how many treatments it should take for complete removal of your tattoo. I haven't read it in full (I'll have plenty of other academic articles to read this semester) but I have skimmed through it. The Kirby-Desai Scale (should be) is what most clinicians and laser operators will use in order to estimate how many treatments you should need. This paper has a bunch of tables that show individual scores depending on several defining factors of your tattoo. You add up all these scores and you will get a number. This number is the estimated number of treatments required to remove your tattoo on the Kirby-Desai Scale. The average was 10. The paper suggests that if you score 15 or more, maybe laser is not the way for you. I scored 15. Figures.
You can download the paper for free here:
Another paper is 'The Use of Lasers in Darker Skin Types' by Battle & Soden. The name speaks for itself, I think. Using lasers on darker skin leads to increased risk of hypopigmentation and scarring.
You download this paper for free here:
Yet another paper is 'Evaluation of the Efficacy of Tattoo-Removal Treatments with Q-Switch Laser' by Gorsic et al. Again, the name really speaks for itself. Now, I haven't so much as looked at this paper, but I would be my bottom dollar that it evaluates the efficacy of Q-Switched lasers in tattoo removal.
You can download this paper for free here:
That's it, guys. Don't underestimate the significance of these academic journal articles. It is these articles (as it is in all fields and disciplines of life) that inform the medical world. Clinics that use these lasers get their knowledge and information on how to remove tattoos with lasers from articles like these, so these are definitely worth a read!
That last post ...
I'm sorry about that. It's not my fault. No matter, you can just chuck the names of those papers in Google and find those papers.
This is entirely nonsensical. I'm really just trying to help others in this community by pointing to them good articles. Must you censor links? I mean, come on. We're all just trying to help each other, right?
Picosure or Q-Switched ND:YAG ???
At the clinic I'm going to next week for (possibly) my first treatment, they have the only Picosure laser in the whole of Sydney, Aus.
I have the option of using the Picosure instead of just the YAG.
Which laser do you think I should go for?
Keep in mind that I do want the quickest treatment time possible, but one doctor here has already told me that the Picosure wouldn't be good for black ink tattoos.
Comparison of Picosure and Nanosecond Lasers
I found this AMAZING academic journal article comparing Picosure which pulse in picoseconds and other "standard" lasers which pulse at nanoseconds.
It is called 'Comparison of Responses of Tattoos to Picosecond and Nanosecond Q-Switched Neodymium: YAG Lasers' and it was written by Ross et al.
Apparently I'm not allowed to post links up here, but if you chuck the name into Google, you'll be able to download it for free. Comparatively speaking, it is one of the few academic articles that are on the easier to read side.
In the paper, the researchers compare Picosure and nanosecond lasers on black ink tattoos with a wavelength of 1064 mm (details as to the laser parameters, setting conditions and tattoos are in the paper itself). They found that Picosure was better at removing ink.
For anyone interested in Picosure, you guys should definitely have a quick skim of this; it is a great paper and really comprehensive.
I'm going in for a consultation with the doctor about my laser tattoo removal.
The way it's planned is that the consultation fee is $66 which comes off my first treatment at the clinic. I may/may not have my first treatment tomorrow, straight after the consultation, but it really depends on how I'm feeling and what is said in the consultation.
But, honestly guys, I'm probably gonna just go for the treatment. I'm like that; even if the doctor tells me I should wait or whatever, the little guy in me has already made up my mind. I'm really that stubborn, even against myself and my own reason.
I just want to get the ball rolling on this process, y'all know what I mean?
Anyway, my thoughts on pain: I'm fine. Honestly, because last year I had four operations, two of them major. And THAT was painful. Really painful, so I think I could tough out a laser. In fact, those operations were so painful that my attitude to pain is really more of a positive one these days. I think of pain as completely necessary to the human function and I really don't mind any pain so long as I know that there will be no permanent damage and it's just temporary. I actually welcome it these days in that it makes me feel human. Weird, I know.
Anyway, I took some more photos of my tattoo just this afternoon. I have been using silicone sheets on it every day for the last 3 weeks and 4 days, to flatten and fade out any scarring. You guys can see if there's been a difference or not. I think there has been.
I'll make a post about my consult / possible treatment tomorrow.
Bad News :(
So if you've been following my review, you'll know by now that today I went into the clinic for my first consultation / possible first treatment.
It did not go as planned. I left with bad news, a heavy heart, and pessimism on a massive scale.
I saw Dr Marianne Nolan at Neutral Bay Laser & Dermatology Clinic. She is very very kind, has been working at that clinic for more than a decade, and is fairly knowledgeable.
I started off by telling her my story of the touch-ups, the possible scarring, etc. I then asked her about the Picosure and whether or not she could have the Picosure fire at the 1064 mm wavelength instead of the Alexandrite 755 mm. She said no. I then asked her about why there is bleeding, and she gave me a good answer with loads of medical jargon that I won't bother repeating, but I was satisfied with her answer.
Up until now, it was all good. I was gonna come to this clinic who has the only Picosure laser in the whole of my city and have 5-8 treatments with the Picosure every 6-8 weeks and bam! The tattoo is gone.
Then she started talking about pricing. Mind you, she hadn't even seen my tattoo yet. I asked her straight up if there were set prices they did for surface area of tattoo. She couldn't answer my question and instead she said that the price would depend on factors that would complicate treatment, and started rattling on about how it would cost more to treat a scarred tattoo (which she thought I had because I had mentioned it earlier to her so she thought she could take advantage of it). This made me a little alarmed. Anyway, after asking her twice, and giving an example of a tattoo the size of a credit card, she said that that kind of tattoo would cost $585 (Australian dollars) to treat. I honestly thought I had heard wrong. I had to ask again. "$585?" ... "Yes...". And get this; that is the pricing for their YAG. The Picosure, she said, would cost an extra 50% on top of the YAG price. The Picosure... you do the math.
She then asked me some questions about any medical problems I had, any medication I was taking at the moment, and if I smoked.
She then had a look at my tattoo, and gave me the only (slightly possibly) good news of the day. She didn't think my tattoo was scarred. Which is great; it is such a relief. But to keep things in perspective, she could be wrong. She also said it would respond well to laser. I don't know about that last statement; she might just be wanting to win me over.
She then went out of the room to get her boss, Dr Terence Poon.
Again, this made me quite alarmed. She was leaving me alone in the room, to confer with her boss. I have no idea why this is necessary. I have no idea why she couldn't give me a quote right then and there. I was wondering what on earth they could have been talking about.
Dr Poon came in and he was very matter-of-factly. We talked about similar things Dr Nolan and I talked about, he looked at my tattoo and quoted me. $500 for the YAG, plus GST (in Australia, we have this tax in our state called the Goods and Services Tax [GST] which is a tax on everything except for bread, milk and eggs. Seriously. We have this tax and almost everything you buy has this tax on it) and $850 for the Picosure plus GST.
This news just broke my heart. I walked into the clinic determined to have a Picosure treatment today, but hearing that it would be close to $900, I just couldn't do it. I didn't even have that money on me at the moment.
He said I could think about it or go ahead with the YAG or the Picosure today. I told him I'd think about it. Obviously.
I left, and paid the $66 consultation fee, which would have come off my first treatment there. But I am not going there, as much as I'd like to be treated by knowledgeable doctors and the Picosure, I can't afford it.
I would need (probably) about 8-10 Picosure treatments anyway. That's close to $10,000 for this tattoo. I would rather grab a scalpel and cut my own skin out. In fact, I am seriously considering doing just that now.
Anyway, consider that $66 water under the bridge.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, I'm now back at square one, and ever more so pessimistic about this.
What I am going to do now
This is just a post to inform everyone as to what I'm going to do next.
Today is a pretty crappy (to say the least) day.
First, I had two exams, which I completely flunked. Like, really. I thought I had over prepared for them, but apparently not. But I guess I'll try harder next time. Promise. If anything, I'll do it for you guys.
Second, it is raining all over the place. I am sitting on the train right now, wet head to toe. It sucks right now.
Ok so now I'll get to my tattoo treatments. I said I would make a post after I've gotten my thoughts together and here I am. See? I do keep to my word ;)
Alright, so last Tuesday I was pretty down on my luck because of my experience at that dermatology clinic. I was thinking that I'd rather just grab a kitchen knife and cut a large chunk of my left breast off than to pay $10,000 AUD for treatment that may or may not be effective.
After some time out and a lot of help from people commenting on my review in this community (thanks, guys!) I thought I'll just go to another place that will charge a fair price.
I've since come to accept that it will take two years or more and am okay with the patience where normally I would not. Think about it: I have 3 layers of ink, not 1. It should, in theory, take 3 times as long as a normal tattoo.
Anyway, I will have to forgoe seeing a doctor for treatment and just go to a technician. The main reason is cost. I had no idea that doctors would charge so much more. But I found out last Tuesday on that dreadful day at the clinic. I would expect to pay $150-200 for my tattoo to be lasered per session with the YAG. They wanted to charge me $500. That's more than 250% of the "fair" price.
So tomorrow I'll be calling a few clinics up and talking to them. I won't be asking for consultations, I'll be jumping straight into the treatment. I already had a consultation (and paid a whopping $66 for it) and so I've found out everything I wanted to know (which was basically like is my tattoo scarred). I don't want to waste any more time. I just wanna get the ball rolling on this treatment.
Given the availability of a particular clinic, it's likely I'll have my first treatment on Friday.
Picosure isn't out of the question; there's a clinic with a Picosure about 200 km north of where I am. But I'm not going to go for it now. Plus, I doubt they'd charge any different than the clinic I went to last Tuesday.
I'll make a post tomorrow to tell you all how the bookings went.
Appointment booked for ... Tomorrow!
As I said, I called a few places up and I settled on True Skin Cosmetic & Laser Clinic in Sydney.
I hadn't come across this clinic before; I only stumbled upon it when I was reading a review of another clinic I was going to go to.
Anyway, they charge $90 to treat a tattoo my size (as I currently understand) and they have received good reviews (albeit for treatments other than tattoo removal) but I am (fairly) confident that they will do a decent job.
They didn't have Friday afternoon available, so I went with tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm.
Just then, I took some photos of my tattoo to show you what it looks like before treatment, but then I remembered that I had done a similar post last Thursday just before my consultation last Friday, so there's no need to do another. My thoughts and expectations about pain, etc. are in that post, so go have a look if you will.
I'll make a post tomorrow to tell you how it goes. Also, I'll take before and after photos (of course) and I'll also try and take a video (if they'll let me).
"Stay strong!" has become my new sign off ... quite accidentally
So I just realised I've made a habit of signing off with "stay strong!" which I sometimes accidentally type "stray stong!"
But anyway, I kinda like that sign off, so I think I'm gonna keep it and let it become me (at least on this site). I think it really encapsulates the essence of what everyone should be keeping in their mind as they soldier on in this arduous journey of laser tattoo removal.
This is going to be a long(ish) post, but please stay tuned.
So I had my first laser tattoo removal treatment today, and all in all, I think it went pretty well. Apart from having to wait half an hour past my appointment time just to talk to the nurse, and then being told she had me booked down for consultation only and then having to wait another half hour for treatment after somebody else, it was alright.
My consultation was where I asked about my treatment plan. I withheld the fact that there are 3 layers of ink in my tattoo, so she calculated, using the Kirby-Desai scale, that I should need 10 treatments. I will need many more than this, obviously. She said the treatments were to be spaced 8 weeks apart.
She then showed me some before/after photos, which gave me grave concerns. She said that I would DEFINITELY have scarring from laser treatment. She said that I would DEFINITELY suffer hypopigmentation (whitening of the skin) after laser treatment. She then said that I might also suffer hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) after laser treatment. This news was shocking to me, and absolutely gutting at the same time, but I want a second opinion on this.
Guys, if this nurse says that I will definitely have scarring and hypopigmentation, is she right? Or should I just leave and go to another clinic?
If anyone could help, that would be great. I don't want either of these side effects, but if she is certain that they will occur, then perhaps they have just always occurred for her patients that she treats. That would mean she is not a good laser technician and I should not go to her any more.
Anyway, moving on. The laser she used is a Q-Switched Lutronic 1064 mm Nd:YAG. The setting she used on me today was 4 mm, 3.8 joules.
Now, about the actual experience: it was strange. I turned down numbing anaesthetic and the pain was ... something else. It really is like no other kind of pain. It isn't exceptionally bad, it's just a different kind of pain. I think the description of "hot grease" sums it up pretty well. And yes, it does hurt. Bearable, yes, but it does hurt, and I felt a bit faint after I got up off the bed, and that was only for a small tattoo. I don't even want to imagine what it would be like to get, say, a sleeve lasered off. I don't think I would be able to tough that one out. I definitely could not do R20 ... it would just be too much for me to handle.
As promised, I took photos and even a video of the actual procedure. Definitely check them out. I do apologise though for the quality of both because I took them myself freehand with my phone while lying down so there was no way I could line it up properly. (P.S. I just tried to upload the video and it says "Enter video embed code" which I have no idea what that means so I guess I just can't do it. If you want to see the video, maybe just send me a private message here and we'll work something out, but it's really nothing special).
Right now, my thoughts and feelings are a mess. They are all over the place. I am in pain; I am tired; I am stressed; I am uncertain. The future is definitely looking dim. But at least I have gotten the ball rolling on this treatment.
Freaking Out!!! Help!!!
The bandage got wet in the shower, so I took it off.
I nearly fainted.
Where there was bleeding straight after the treatment, there was a HUGE amount of blood. Like, the blood was caked. And it's still bleeding I freaked out. I'm still freaking out. What on earth is happening? Is this normal?
I didn't wash it or anything, because I knew it would have been bad and hurt bad as well. I just got out of the shower, patted it (very very lightly) dry with paper towel, used a cotton bud to put paw paw ointment on it (and it spread all this blood everywhere) and covered it with another piece of paper towel and stuck it with sticky tape. Sort of like a makeshift bandage (I have nothing else).
A Theory on the Spots of Bleeding
So I have this theory on why the bleeding occurred in the spots that it did.
If you read my very first post, you'd know that the original tattoo I got (December 27 2013) has been touched up twice since and at each of these subsequent touch-ups, the artist increased the size a bit. Now, this obviously means some areas of the tattoo have 3 layers of ink, others 2 and yet others just 1 layer. As he was expanding the tattoo, it would make complete sense (and is also shown in the photos of the actual tattoos) that the edges of my current tattoo would have less ink than, say, towards the middle.
So this has led me to think that the bleeding is at the edges because there is less ink there and ... I don't know?
Do you guys have any thoughts on this?
One Day After Treatment #1
It has been a day after my first treatment and I just thought I'd let you know how I'm going.
Right now, the blood has stopped flowing, and there is some kind of film like layer on top of the tattoo. It's like this milky-ish film that's covering the tattoo and it is really raised up. I don't think it's a blister, it's just this really thick film that's kind of opaque. What worries me is that you can see through it a bit and there are some parts that are really red inside the tattoo. These red parts correspond to the whiter parts inside my tattoo before treatment (which I had previously attributed to scarring/tissue damage from the first tattoo application) so I'm pretty scared that there's something wrong in that area. I don't know what that is, but I guess only time can tell. Oh and where there was any bleeding, there's just this kind of red scab on top of the milky layer.
The surrounding area is very very bruised, and the whole area is all red. The tattoo is swollen; it is huge. But what is worrying me most at this moment is the parts that were bleeding (they may have scabbed and then the scabs come off in the shower today because I take very long showers) and the parts that are red underneath the milky layer.
This is all still very very weird to me.
Hating the Aftercare
I am absolutely HATING this aftercare.
I honestly thought that it would be much less of a hassle and much less of a recovery than getting an actual tattoo, but no, it is much more.
I'm sorry I'm moaning to everyone, by the way. This last week has been nothing less than awful for me.
Feeling Sick After Laser
So I don't know if anyone else has, but I've been feeling sick after my treatment. Now, I'm no doctor and I wouldn't pretend to know for certain the causation of how I'm feeling right now.
But I've just been feeling sick ever since the treatment. I mean, straight after, of course, I was pretty spaced out and not feeling well, which is expected. But then a day after (which was yesterday) I had a headache all day long, despite drinking A LOT of water and getting lots of sleep. Today (two days after treatment) it's worse. I still have the headache, I feel nauseous, and my heart is beating out of control.
Now, I know this doesn't necessarily have to be caused specifically by the laser treatment, but I had the treatment and now I'm feeling sick. It gives me pretty good reason to think it was the treatment that made me sick. It could be the ink that's breaking down and entering my system which could be making me feel under the weather, but I highly doubt that the ink has broken down and travelled so far so fast.
Anyone else have this experience?
Trouble and strife exist to make life what it is.
One Day After Treatment #1
So it's been a week since my first laser tattoo removal treatment, and I thought I'd update this review to let everyone know what's going on.
Recovery this past week has been really strange. I think it's safe to say that it has not been very enjoyable.
One thing that is really intriguing me right now is the bright red spots in my otherwise black tattoo. Since treatment, there have been spots, including two very big spots on either side, that have been bright red. Like, the colour of blood.
Now, before I started laser treatment, a white-ish outline was visible inside the tattoo, and this outline is exactly the same shape and size of the very first tattoo I got (as this current tattoo has been touched-up and expanded twice). I had initially thought that this outline was scarring or tissue damage or both, that resulted from the initial application of the original tattoo. However, the dermatologists I saw told me there weren't any signs of scarring or tissue damage that they could see. But whatever this outline is, it is something.
Curiously (but not really that surprising to me), what was previously this inside outline has turned into these red spots I'm talking about. I half knew that the outline would react differently to the laser, and I guess I was right.
I know that this is probably something really, really bad. But surprisingly enough, I'm not really that worried about it, because there is probably nothing I can do about it right now. When I've fully healed, I'll assess it again and see if I need to go to a doctor about it.
These red spots could be a number of things. First, it could actually be scarring or tissue damage from the application of the original tattoo, and my skin could be having a hard time from the beating of the laser. Second, it could be that the skin in those spots is having an especially rough time from the laser because there is just so much ink in those spots. However, that doesn't explain why there are no red spots down the middle diagonal line, where there is also three layers of ink.
If anyone has any thoughts on it, please let me know. The photo here isn't that great, I apologise, but it's the best I can take.
As for the rest of the story, the area surrounding the tattoo was heavily bruised. But, as the photo shows, this has slowly subsided into a more yellowish and thinned bruise. Also, the swelling has gone down a lot, which is good. There is now this hard sort of covering over the tattoo. It doesn't really look like a scab, but it certainly behaves like one. I take really long showers (I know, I know, I shouldn't for many reasons) and at the end of the shower, it gets all white and spotty and kind of soggy like a normal scab would if it was soaked in hot water for a while. Also, it no longer hurts, which is great.
I'll update when there are new developments.
So all the scabs have fallen off, probably too soon. Every time I have a shower, the scab gets really soggy, and that's probably not a good thing, because it wrecks the scab too soon, and that's probably what happened to me.
Anyway, in it's place are pinkish spots that look like the skin has caved in or something.
It actually really resembles scarring, and I hope it's not.
Correction: 2 April 2014 Post
I just realised that my post on 2 April 2014 that read "One Day After Treatment #1" is actually one week after. Thus, it should have read "One Week After Treatment #1" instead. Sorry everyone.
2 Weeks After Treatment #1
Just a quick update to let you all know how I'm going.
The tattoo has healed up fine on the outside - no more bleeding; scab has fallen off (although prematurely).
The pink spots are still there though, which is a little scary.
There aren't any visible signs of fading yet. However, I think there definitely is a lot less ink inside there. Before treatment, the tattoo was really quite raised, probably because of all the layers of ink inside there. Now when I run my finger over it, it isn't even half as raised as it was before, so progress definitely has been made!
Tonight was the last time I will put on pawpaw ointment. It just isn't going to do any more good. Instead, I will put my silicone sheet over my tattoo again. Not only as a precaution against any scarring, but even if there is no scarring, the silicone will help with the skin regrowth and hopefully do something about the pink spots.
All I wanted was to put this photo in... now realself.com won't let me?
I'm pretty sure that these pink spots here are scars, and so are some other people here on realself.
If I already have scars from my first laser tattoo removal treatment, scars from excision won't make a whole deal of difference, but it will mean the tattoo is gone way quicker.
I don't know; I'm torn.
What do you guys think?
Seeking Medical Advice
Down here in Australia it's Easter Sunday, so happy Easter, everyone!
I'm going to get some medical advice on this tattoo, as I haven't yet properly seen a doctor / dermatologist who isn't a laser technician and thus doesn't have a reason to advise me to go for laser (because a dermatologist who works at a laser clinic is obviously going to tell me to get laser treatments, preferably from them).
I'm going to go to a general practitioner (GP) first, and see what he thinks, but I hope to get a referral from him/her to go to a dermatologist about it.
I'll tell you all how it goes.
One Month After Treatment #1
So it's been a month since number one.
The pink spots are, as you would have expected, still there. I am yet to make an appointment to see a doctor about it, these next couple of weeks will be pretty hectic for me.
In a precaution against any scarring I may have, I've been using a silicone sheet on my tattoo from about two weeks after the treatment, everyday for almost 24 hours, until recently (I stopped a few days ago).
The tattoo is still very raised (though less so after treatment #1), and the skin does not feel normal (it never really has). The skin is not only a different texture and feels rubbery like it always has, but it is now bumpy after treatment #1.
I'm worried about this, and I really wish it wasn't like this at all. But alas, there really is nothing I can do about it.
I will see a doctor about this soon, and when I do, I'll let you all know what will happen next. Oh, and I will be talking to him about excision.
Oh I just realised typo ^
Some followers must be thinking "what is going on? How can it be one month post twice?"
Wait, WHAT? ^
I realise now that that wasn't in fact, a typo. It WAS, actually one month after treatment #1.
Sorry, sorry, sorry.
These last few weeks have been absolutely crazy busy, and I have completely lost sense of time. It's proof I'm actually losing my mind.
Today, however, is 5 weeks post treatment #1 (I hope I get it right this time).
2 Months Post Treatment 1; I have a Scar
So today it's been two months since I had my first laser tattoo removal treatment.
I've been super busy in that time (which is good, because I haven't had the time or energy to think about this stupid tattoo and its removal process), so I haven't been able to make as many updates or be very active on this site. Sorry.
Also, I haven't been to the doctor about excision yet. I will soon. Really. I promise. In the next month, I'll find a day to go. I promise. Really, I do.
Okay. So an update on the tattoo. You guys remember way back before I started, that I was saying how raised my tattoo was? That's probably because of the huge amounts of ink in it. Well, I'm happy to say that the tattoo now is not as raised as it was before laser. That probably means that the laser is working, and that (some) ink is breaking down. However, my tattoo is still not flat, as it would be with normal tattoos that have only one layer. Also, those pink spots haven't budged. I have no idea what it could be, probably the pigment of some scarring. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the pink spots are in the shape of the very first tattoo. This could mean that more damage has been down to those spots.
Also, I have a raised scar from the treatment. I noticed it ages ago, but today strangely it felt really really raised, so I had a close look in the mirror and yep, it's definitely a pretty angry raised scar.
Also, I stopped using silicone on my tattoo after about two weeks. I just got bored and it was really inconvenient, having to wash the silicone strip, and sticky tape it to my body (which would irritate my skin).
So yeah, that's my two month update done!
3 Months Post Treatment #1; Considering Next Step
I hope you have all been well.
So it's been 3 months (today, June 26 2014) since my first laser tattoo removal treatment. I am considering the next step - most likely another laser session - however, with the scar that I got from last time's session, I'm not sure if more laser sessions would make the scar worse. Furthermore, I'd be extremely unhappy if, at the end of all the sessions, I'm left with no ink but a scar in the very shape of the tattoo, in which case, I think I'd rather the tattoo in the first place.
If I decide to go ahead with another laser session, it will most likely take place next month in July.
Yesterday the clinic contacted me and said if I booked in for a session with their new technician I'd get 40% off. At first, this seemed awesome. However, I soon realised that this new technician is probably really inexperienced, hence why they're offering such a discount anyway. Moral of the story: think twice about such seemingly extravagant offers; you can't put a price on your health and safety.
I'll keep you posted.
Temporary Textural Changes, or Simply Scarring?
So my tattooed (and now lasered) skin has a different texture to my other skin. It's sort of scrunched up with fine wrinkles (instead of tight) and looks very similar to the texture of a scar. This covers the whole tattoo, not just that raised scar bit in the top right hand corner of it.
Now, I had remembered reading / hearing from somewhere that after laser treatment, the skin has a slightly different texture, but that this will resolve and go back to normal after a few months.
But the similarities between my tattoo's skin texture and that of my scar from an operation is just too great.
If this texture difference is indeed due to scarring, that would mean that the WHOLE tattoo is scarred, and that raised bit (in the top right corner) that I had thought was a scar is actually something else much worse. It would also mean that, at the end of all the treatments, I am left with a scar in the shape of my tattoo, instead of the ink. This is absolutely NOT what I want. In fact, I'd rather have the tattoo inked in rather than scarred in.
If this is indeed the case, it would make me lean towards excision, instead of going on with this laser thing.
What do you guys think?
Saw GP today
I had been meaning to get a check up with a GP about my tattoo for ages. I think it was something like 2 months ago I made a post expressing my interest for a medical professional to have a look.
Well, today I did.
News was suspiciously good. The doctor was not my main GP, but I chose him because the medical center is literally 5 metres away from the clinic where I had my laser treatment (it's in the same building). He was really nice, and that's probably why I came away from the consultation with a good feeling.
So I told him that I've had only one treatment, but I've had these patches of red/pink and some parts are raised after the first treatment. He simply said that it was the skin reacting to the laser (simply scarring). He said it could be temporary, but it could be permanent. He said it was okay for me to go for another treatment. I asked him why the raised scar was bright red, and he prescribed me a topical corticosteroid cream for the inflammation (redness), but he stressed that the steroid cream would not make the scars fade or flatten out. Funnily enough, I already had some coriticosteroid cream, so I didn't need to buy any more.
I was quite happy about it today, especially because I had expected him to have no clue what the red/pink patches were, and I expected him to refer me to a dermatologist (which I'm pretty reluctant to go to because of the $$$ involved). I am to see him in a week's time, after using the corticosteroid cream, which works out great because I'm planning on booking a laser treatment session, so when I'm done with one appointment I can just walk the few steps to the other :)
So in summary, I definitely have simple scarring, but it's okay for me to continue with this laser thing.
Second Treatment Session Booked!
My second laser tattoo removal treatment is booked for this Friday 25/7/2014 at 3 pm. This is one day shy of 4 months since Treatment #1, and I keep reading that waiting longer between treatments is a good thing, so at least I've done that, I guess. It is straight after my GP appointment, which is a follow-up from last week because the doctor wanted to see if a topical corticosteroid cream would reduce the redness in my scar (in my tattoo, of course). As I mentioned earlier, the medical centre is just a few paces away from the laser clinic, so 10 points for convenience!
I'll let y'all know how it goes :)
Treatment #2; Some Grim News ...
So I had my second laser tattoo removal treatment today. It was immediately after my scheduled consultation with a GP a few steps away that had asked to see me again. I had been using a topical corticosteroid cream on my tattoo in an attempt to calm the redness down a bit. I hadn't really noticed a difference, but he seemed to think it was a bit better. Anyway, he said everything was all good; I could go ahead with the laser session straight after.
I went up to the clinic's desk and I saw Linda (the registered nurse and laser technician who treated me last time) and I said hello and everything and that I was a bit early and sorry for that and stuff. Then she says "Oh, Sarah's going to be treating you today" and pointed at this woman sitting next to her and I was just like "What ...?"
I told her I had a scar, and surprisingly, she became very alarmed.
We went into the treatment room, and I showed them my tattoo.
Sarah was left to take some photos of my tattoo for the clinic's records. I asked the new tech Sarah some questions about how much experience she had had, etc., but I had already decided to ask Linda to treat me anyway. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had received a text message from the clinic advertising that if I booked a session with the new technician, I'd get 40% off. I had also already decided against this. You can't buy experience.
So when Linda came back and Sarah went out of the room, I told Linda I wanted her to treat me instead of Sarah, because firstly, Linda had treated me last time; and secondly, she obviously had more experience. I stressed and stress now that I meant and mean no disrespect to Sarah.
On my tattoo, Linda said immediately that it was a keloid scar, and that it would be problematic to our treatment plan (she also said that she noticed my tattoo had gotten lighter, which is good!) I was really confused, because the GP I had just seen thought there was no problem with continuing laser treatment. He had said that the scar wouldn't get worse with more laser. But Linda was extremely worried about it, and went to get this other doctor, Dr. Yap, who was in the same medical centre but apparently owned the clinic, to come and take a look at it.
Dr Yap came and had a look, and said it was a keloid. He was very, very grim, and said that as I am prone to keloid scarring (I also showed him some scars I had from a previous operation, and he said too that they were also keloids), if I go on with laser tattoo removal, I may end up with more keloid scars. He said it may be that instead of black ink, I just have a scar in the shape of my tattoo, which I had said many times on this site, is my worst nightmare. He basically suggested that I don't go ahead with laser tattoo removal, or if I do, I have steroids injected into my tattoo a day or two before laser treatment. He apologised for bringing me this news, and suggested I have a think about the next step from here, because he thinks I stand a "decent" chance of having another keloid scar elsewhere in my tattoo, which is not good. Furthermore, he said that even if I do have a steroid injection before a session, it could do nothing and I may still get a keloid regardless.
I told them both that I'm here now, I may as well just do one more (without the steroid injection, of course), and see how I go. I mentioned to them that I had been using a topical corticosteroid cream on my tattoo in an attempt to lessen the redness of the scarring that I already have (on advice from the GP I saw earlier in the day; Dr Malek; very nice guy). Dr Yap told me to use the corticosteroid cream after this treatment, on top of the silicone sheet that I have, then to book an appointment with him in a week's time.
Little did I know this Dr Yap guy was actually sort of like the skin doctor (not dermatologist per se I guess, but just some guy who normally treats patients for their skin). If I had known that, I would have booked an appointment with this guy first and foremost, instead of just seeing Dr Malek. I have gotten conflicting information about my tattoo from both of these doctors, which is strange and very confusing.
Anyway, before I go any further, I just want to say here that everyone was really nice to me today, for some reason. Dr Malek (GP) is always a nice guy; Dr Yap (GP whom I just met today) was also really nice. But Linda was nice today too, which was really unexpected, as she wasn't very pleasant on my first treatment. Today I felt I could actually talk to Linda and she actually genuinely cared, as well as being able to casually chat to her.
Anyway, with my decision made (to go ahead with a laser tattoo removal treatment session today, against the advice of the technician and the doctor, and without the steroid injection), I got ready for some pain. Linda said that she wasn't going to laser the keloid scar, because it would make it worse. She also said that she would use extremely low settings, and treat me like I had really dark skin, in order to (attempt to) avoid causing more keloidal scarring.
She did some test patches, to gauge the settings, then when she found the one, off she went. It was over a lot sooner than I had thought, which was good because I was in a rush to get back home.
The settings she used were actually LOWER than the first session.
Spot size 5 mm; 1.8 joules.
The laser was the same: Lutronic Q-Switched ND:YAG 1064 nm wavelength.
Anyway, university starts back up on Monday, so I'll be heaps busy once again (*sarcastic* yay!). Also, I'll be getting a job working as a therapist for autistic children, which will definitely keep my hands full. But I'll be seeing more doctors about this. Dr Malek had asked to see me in 2 weeks' time, and Dr Yap asked to see me in 1 weeks' time, so I can feel less like I'm in this on my own, especially with you guys and the medical professionals here and at the medical centre looking after me :)
It's good that I'll be seeing both these doctors, actually. The more opinions I get (not just on this, but on other things as well), the better. That goes for anybody and everybody. Also, I know I haven't mentioned it yet on this site, but last Monday I was diagnosed with Rosacea. Perhaps there is, like, a review of it I could do here if I ever get laser for it? Anyway, not only is it strange that I have Rosacea, because sufferers are mainly white middle-aged women and I'm an Asian 19-year-old male, but I am at a crossroads as to how I should treat it, and I've already spoken to both my main local GP and Dr Malek about it, but now I can speak to Dr Yap about it (seeing as he is the "skin guy"), which should be good.
Right now, I'm in pain, but of course it's expected. I also expect to have the same hangover-like symptoms in the few days and weeks after treatment, just as I did last session. The laser session saw no pinpoint bleeding which was good. Also, so far as I could tell, frosting was good. Linda did indeed avoid zapping the keloid scar (so she says, but I'll take her word for it; I can't actually see where she zapped and I didn't take a video of it this time round).
I'm soldiering on, I guess.
I'll make a post perhaps tomorrow or the day after, with photos and more thoughts.
I forgot to mention ...
I forgot to mention a few things.
First, I asked Dr Yap about whether or not excision was a good and viable tattoo removal alternative, given the fact that I am prone to keloid scarring from the laser. He said no. He said he would absolutely not recommend excision for me, as the scar would be a keloid and it would be huge. Linda (the tech) agreed.
Second, Linda gave me some special "all natural" ointment for the aftercare, free of charge (thanks!) because I told her that I was using Lucas' Papaw Ointment, which she said wasn't good because of all the chemicals in it.
One Day Post Treatment #2
It's been a day since treatment #2.
I took the bandage off after > 24 hours (as advised by the technician), and I felt somehow serene (although that may have been because I have had an absolutely hectic day and was just about to take a nice, warm shower after a long day).
It wasn't as sore as last time, and there was no blood on the bandage, although that's probably because the laser zapped me at half the power as last time. The whole thing is raised and puffy looking (as expected) and there are some parts that are red (as expected also; and I don't think it's blood because it didn't wash off and there was no blood on the bandage) and the surrounding areas are red and/or bruised (once again, as expected).
I washed it (making sure I only used cold water and no hot water touched it), dried the area with clean paper towel, took some photos (that are blurry; sorry!), applied Linda's "all natural" ointment, and dressed it in a bandage (my "bandage" is really just folded paper towel taped down with sticky tape).
Photos - the day after treatment #2
Here they are.
I apologise for the blurriness, and how far away the camera (my phone) is from the subject. I was in the shower and trying my best to take a good photo.
Photos from yesterday - 2 days post Treatment #2
I had meant to upload these yesterday, but I didn't get around to it.
I want to draw your attention to the right part of the tattoo, where I think there will be another keloid. There's a spot of redness there on top of some mild scarring that's already there, much like the redness that preceded and remains in my existing keloid (top left corner of the tattoo in the photos).
One Week Post Treatment #2
It's been a week since treatment #2, and I thought I'd make an update on some things. There are three points that I'd like to touch on in this review update.
First, of course, is an update on the status of my healing. Healing has been great, so far, I think. I didn't have any bleeding this time, probably because of the extremely low power of the laser. I didn't have any thick, crusty scabbing. Nor did I have any blisters. The verdict is still out on whether or not there will be scarring, keloidal or otherwise. For the last week, my daily routine with this tattoo has consisted of washing my tattoo with soap and cold water, patting it dry with paper towel, applying an "all-natural" ointment, and dressing it (my "bandage" is just folded paper towel taped onto my chest). Tonight I stopped this and I now have a silicone sheet on my tattoo, as advised by Dr Yap. He actually told me to put the silicone sheet on the tattoo during the night, and put steroid cream during the day, but I'll hold off on the steroid cream for a little while yet, just in case I have some scabbing or still have some broken skin.
Second, this is about the doctors. So this guy Dr Malek whom I first saw about my worries with the (what now turns out to be) keloid scar asked me last time to book in another appointment with him. I'm not sure this doctor is that familiar with skin issues like my scarring etc., as he had told me that I was completely fine to go on with laser removal, and that the laser wouldn't make it any worse. This is in direct contradiction with what the technician and Dr Yap (who owns the laser clinic) said. Now, I'm completely fine with this disparity. One doctor is more right than the other. One of them is wrong, and it's probably Dr Malek. But that's not the point of this paragraph. The point is, I've seen him 3 times already (although we had talked about more than just my tattoo) and I'm starting to feel like he just keeps asking me back so he can get some more cash. I would have seen him around 2 weeks after my laser treatment, but in light of the fact that he probably would not be very helpful, let alone give me incorrect and possibly damaging information, I really don't see any point to see him again. Dr Yap, on the other hand, has asked me to see him, after I try a few days of applying steroid cream at daytime and silicone sheet at nighttime. I think Dr Yap would be a great deal more help with my tattoo, and it helps that he owns the clinic. But regardless, I guess I'll just see them both (?)
Third, this is about the fading. I have seen some fading / lightening of my tattoo already. A point of interest is that the fading appears to only be in selective areas. I think I have a good idea of why. If you're familiar with my story and have read my first few posts, you'd know that there are 3 layers of ink in this tattoo (I had 2 cover-ups, both of which left me dissatisfied). Obviously, the cover-ups were larger in area than each of their previous tattoos, so there are fewer layers of ink in the parts of the final tattoo where the cover-ups overlap their previous tattoos. It would thus make complete sense if these overlapped parts fade and disappear sooner. If this holds throughout my whole treatment , I should the laser tattoo removal journey with tattoo #3, then have something that looks like tattoo #2, then finally be left with tattoo #1. Furthermore, as there is most ink in the shape of tattoo #1, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is the area that has the most severe tissue damage or scarring.
Scared of Scarring
So it's been a week and a bit since treatment #2.
Today, I was confident that my tattoo has no broken skin, so I started applying the corticosteroid cream, as advised by Dr Yap. The plan is to apply the steroid cream during the day, and have on the silicone sheet on at night. I'm not supposed to apply the steroid cream for more than a week at a time, but I'll be seeing Dr Yap in a few days time to see where I'm at.
Anyway, just then I made appointments to see Dr Malek and Dr Yap on Friday (they had both asked to see me again). I'm seeing Dr Malek at 3 pm and Dr Yap at 3:45 pm (guys, I write these times up here just to help me remember what time my appointments are; I am fully aware that this information about the times of my appointments does not benefit anyone but me).
Sadly, I have some suspicious about some further scarring I may have obtained after this last laser treatment. These suspicious will be confirmed or denied on Friday, but I'm not very hopeful for good news, seeing as just before my second treatment, Dr Yap kept telling me he's sorry about my situation and told Linda to refund me if I had prepaid for treatments ... Not a good sign ...
So I saw the doctor yesterday
Saw the doctor yesterday. I've been using steroid cream during the day and applying a silicone sheet at night, just as he had instructed. Yesterday he said I could stop that, and just apply the silicone sheet 24/7. Apart from that, I didn't get much new information; he basically said we'll see how the scarring is after this latest treatment and take it from there.
I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Three Weeks Post Treatment #2
So it's been 3 weeks since #2; I thought it'd be appropriate to update this review.
I must admit, I've been feeling a bit down in the last few days. This is because it has finally hit me that this tattoo removal journey will not be at all smooth, and at the end of it all (be it years and years later), I'll be left with one helluva ugly scarred mess.
In recent days, I have noticed that my tattoo is lighter in some areas, and darker in others. You would expect that it is lighter in the overlapping areas of my two cover-ups, but in fact the opposite is true. The original tattoo is lighter than the cover-up areas.
There are a few explanations for this. Firstly, as tattoo #1 was done by one artist and tattoo #2 and tattoo #3 were done with another, they may have used different types of ink or different needling techniques. Second, there may have been more fading in tattoo #1 because more ink means a bigger reaction (this doesn't actually make any logical sense). Third, tattoo #1 is turning into a scar because of the density and subsequent overreaction to laser. Fourth, tattoo #1 was already a scar (I had always suspected this).
I think the last two explanations are most plausible.
There is now very little doubt that the majority of the tattoo has raised hypertrophic scarring. The areas that are scarred are, quite unfortunately, the outline of the very first original tattoo. You can actually see the original outline within the entire tattoo, and the overlapping areas of the cover-ups do not appear to be scarred. This is most worrying, as the reason I got two cover-ups was to try and fix up the original. Assuming that the overlapping areas fade away, I'll be left with a scar in the shape of tattoo #1. As you can see, none of it worked out, and I'm left with a huge mess.
Furthermore, I think I may have mentioned that I see some fading already. I was mistaken; there are not yet any signs of fading. I do notice that the tattoo appears to be lighter, and my tech also said that just before treatment #2. However, the lightening of my tattoo does not appear to be the result of fading. Rather, my tattoo is lighter because most of it is turning into a scar. I know this because the overlapping areas of the cover-ups are still very dark, and very much darker than the original tattoo. If the lightening was due to fading, the overlapping areas should be lighter than the original, because there is less ink in the overlapping areas and therefore those areas should fade first. Hence, any "lightening" or "fading" isn't lightening or fading: it's just scarring.
On top of the fact that most of my tattoo is now hypertrophic scarring, I have a keloid, which periodically becomes inflammed.
All this scarring seriously impedes my treatment, and I am absolutely hating the entire situation.
This is just overwhelming
In hindsight, I guess I was too optimistic if I thought that my removal journey would go smoothly, because it hasn't and obviously won't.
Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how I don't fall into the pits of mental illness with all my worrying and sadness about the whole situation. Maybe I'm getting there, I don't know.
I want results. Now.
The only reason I'm so eager to see some real fading is so that I can get a clearer picture of what's going on. If I can see what's happening with the tattoo, I can start thinking about scar treatment and things like that. If everything had gone smoothly (that is, I didn't have any scarring), I wouldn't be as impatient, and I'd just let time do its thing, but I really want to see some results.
I'm really quite saddened that most of my tattoo has now become scar tissue, because that will make the ink a lot harder to remove by laser. I'm not even sure this last treatment did anything at all, apart from aggravate the scarring even more.
My mind turns to excision again. And Picosure.
I will be re-exploring these two options in the coming weeks, and I shall let you all know my thoughts.
Silicone Sheets DO WORK
I've had a silicone sheet that I've been using ever since even before I started laser treatment.
They do work; at least for me.
Since this last treatment, I started using it 24/7 a week after being zapped, and there was a raised area in my tattoo that I thought would become a new keloid scar, but it has since flattened out, and I believe it may be because of my use of silicone.
I would definitely recommend using silicone for anyone going through laser treatment. In my humble opinion, the sheets are better than the gel, because with gel, it either rubs off onto clothing and doesn't stay on the skin, or other impurities from the air get into it. With the silicone sheets, they do cost a bit, but they're not overly expensive, and you can wash and reuse them as many times as you want (until of course it breaks down).
Silicone would be good for people even if they do not yet have a scar - it is a good preventative measure against scarring.
Hope this helps :)
An important note
I wanted to update this review with a thought that has been on my mind for some time now.
When I first made this review, it was before I had had any treatments, and I wanted this review to be of enormous help to anyone wishing to undergo laser tattoo removal, just as others' reviews have been enormously helpful to me. In fact, I wanted this review to be so influential that it may be one of the "go-to" reviews (alongside others, of course) that potential patients of laser tattoo removal would go to in order to decide whether it was for them, whether it worked, etc.
Unfortunately, I fear that I may be unable to provide this service anymore. This is simply because of the fact that my tattoo removal has gone absolutely haywire. My removal process is not what you would call "normal", and so very few people indeed would be able to relate to my situation and subsequently gain insight from this review.
I am so sorry for this. I had really hoped it would go better for many reasons, but it is not so.
Here's a lesson to all and a note to self: don't think and worry about your tattoo removal woes just before you go to sleep. If you're lucky enough to fall asleep easily, you will frequently wake up from nightmares and bad thoughts throughout the night.
your buddy Eric.
My very next step in this long, painful journey
This update is just to let you all know what I'm thinking of doing next.
It's been just over 4 weeks since Treatment #2.
I've seen a little bit more scarring since, but it hasn't been too significant.
Last treatment's settings were so low that I'm not sure the treatment made any progress at all in removing the ink. As such, I want to go back for another treatment after just 8 weeks. I'm aware of the fact that the longer I wait, the better it is, blah blah blah. But I'm sure that my last zapping didn't do anything but aggravate my skin. In fact, I'd like to do the next few treatments like this - with just a 2 month gap - if I am to continue on with laser treatment. I want to get *AT LEAST* two more treatments done before the year is out.
To be honest with you all, I do believe that I will end up going for excision. I cannot express how gutted I am right now just typing that; how guilty I am, given the fact that I started this review really wanting stick out laser and perhaps be that rare guy who can document the experience from start to finish, and I mean finish as in tattoo = completely gone. But unfortunately, it does not look like I'm going to be able to do that, and I cannot apologise enough. It just goes to show really just how reckless I am - starting up this review being all like "yeah, I'm gonna be the reason you do/don't go through with laser, just read this ..." and then it ends up just falling through and I am unable to deliver on my promises.
I will make a detailed update with photos at the 6 week post Treatment #2 mark.
To clarify: I'm thinking Laser now, then Excision later
I just wanted to clarify what I'm thinking of doing, because I'm not sure it was that clear in my last update.
I believe that there is a chance that some ink can be satisfactorily removed from my tattoo. That is, there are still some areas (albeit small) that have not scarred up yet. If these can be removed 'normally', then that would leave behind the scarring that is packed with stubborn ink. I would then seriously look at getting that skin excised. Maybe then, the scar from the excision will not so much resemble the shape of the tattoo, which is even better.
It will all make a whole lot more sense when I post a photo update at post 6 weeks Tx2.
I just looked at my calendar this morning and realised that tomorrow will mark 6 weeks since treatment #2 (wow, what? time flies ...).
I'm super-duper busy right now, and will be for the next couple of weeks, I anticipate.
As such, I don't think I'll be able to make that update tomorrow as promised.
I don't want to compromise on detail; I don't want to just do a rushed job. So I'll post the full update in another 2 weeks' time. Then, it would be closer to my next treatment anyway.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to chip in on their thoughts, any advice or suggestions would be most welcome. I'll lay out some parameters: right now, I want some fast fading, or at least some results to affirm that this laser thing is actually working. The reason for that is, I want to get a clearer picture of where my tattoo is at, or where it looks like it's going to go. That way, I can see what options I have left.
I'm aware of the fact that this hinders ink removal in that my immune system will be working hard to get rid of all the junk from tobacco smoke instead of ink particles.
But does it do damage? I mean, will I scar up or get tissue damage or an infection or something if I smoke cigarettes whilst I'm undergoing the process? Does anyone know?
Hold up; change of plan
Instead of going straight to treatment #3, I should make the most of now (because it has been quite a while since my last treatment, and so if any more damage occurred, it would emerge now or soon) and take this tattoo to the dermatologist to see what he thinks I should do next.
I want to go to a dermatologist who will actually know quite a lot about this kind of stuff. Obviously, I don't want to fork out quite a bit of money to see someone just to find out that they don't know anything about my tattoo and have no suggestions or insight to share with me.
I'm thinking of seeing a dermatologist who specialises in laser. But I also want a completely honest consultation.
Herein lies the paradox: those dermatologists who specialise in laser will probably not give me an honest account, in that their incentive will be my money, so they may try to frame my tattoo woes in such a way that would encourage me to go to them for treatment.
Or I could risk it with just some random derm. Or I could just go to heaps of clinics and speak to techs.
Anyway, that'll give me some food for thought.
I just had another look at my calendar and I think I may have got some dates wrong in some of my previous posts. Let me correct that. In a previous post I posted on August 28, I said that it had been 6 weeks since my second treatment. It was actually 5 weeks. This Friday marks 6 weeks post treatment #2. Sorry guys.
And that photo update is coming ... soon ... but not this week. I know, I know; I'm building up so much hype to it it'll end up being really anticlimatic and really not that special, so sorry. But it is coming.
Until then, stay strong.
Snakes and Ladders
I was meant to update yesterday but I never had the time for it. It's been a hectic last few; so many assignments to do.
Anyway, I called up the medical centre yesterday afternoon wanting to make an appointment to see Dr Malek today. Dr Malek is that trainee doctor that sort of gave me wrong information about the scar(s) on my tattoo, but he's a very nice guy and you can talk to him very easily, which I like. I wasn't really expecting him to give me any useful information, and I wasn't going to ask him any important questions and take his answers to heart. Rather, I just wanted to speak to him as if he were a buddy of mine who has a degree in medicine. I wanted to talk a little bit about excision. And, ask him to write me a referral to a dermatologist, of course.
But yesterday I called and they said yesterday was his last day. They asked me if I was okay to see someone else, and I paused for a while, thinking about Dr Yap (but of course I can't speak to him, because he just wants me to keep having laser at his clinic) or some others in the same building. Eventually I thought "no, I'll just have to find another doctor" so I told the receptionist to just leave it.
So there we are, knocked back a few steps. Think of it like snakes and ladders: I've just slid down a snake.
It's hard to find a good doctor who can talk openly and who bulk bills these days…
Anyway, that's what I'm gonna have to do.
So, just to clarify my plan: I have to find a GP to write me a referral to a dermatologist. I'll speak to both the GP and the dermatologist about my tattoo, it's scarring, laser treatment and excision. Then I'll take it from there.
Actually last night in the shower, I found myself becoming really excited about excision...
I'll let you all know how it goes down. Photo update will be at the 8 week post treatment #2 mark.
More medical appointments, but at least it's going somewhere
So I've booked an appointment to see a new GP.
As I outlined above, I don't expect the GP to know a lot about my tattoo and thus I don't expect him/her to give me any meaningful and medically useful advice. All I'm going for is the referral to the dermatologist. And, with that in mind, I will be having a general sort of chat to him/her about excision, and see what he/she thinks. But I want the consultation (especially the talk about my tattoo and excision) to be more like a casual conversational chat, except the person whom I'm talking to has a medical degree. So basically, I'll ask him/her if he/she reckons excision (for my tattoo) is a good idea or not, and why.
I see the GP on Friday, at 2 pm in the afternoon. That will be 7 weeks after my second treatment.
I'll let you all know how it goes.
In the meantime...
To be perfectly honest with everyone, in the last few days especially, I have really warmed up to the idea of excision.
Actually, it's safe to say that I quite want excision now. As each day comes it dawns on me more that laser is just not going to work out, no matter what I do, who I go to, it just won't work.
I hesitate to say that I have been "considering" excision of my tattoo; I haven't been "considering" as such, I've just been wanting it. Wanting it does not equate to thinking about it rationally and weighing up pros and cons. I guess I'm just really liking the idea of it.
I still have to do the part where I weigh up pros and cons and make a rational decision about it.
But in the meantime, I will keep fantasizing about excision and the joy of being rid of this tattoo.
Also, I'm waiting to see the GP to have a chat to him about it, and the dermatologist as well, then and only then will I ultimately decide if excision is for me.
And, not to mention, I'd be shattered if any medical professional in person or on this site tell me that for whatever reason I can't do excision, or shouldn't. But I hope that won't happen.
I'm seeing the GP tomorrow (about my tattoo, of course) , and it'll be the 7 week post treatment #2 mark for me.
I've had a silicone sheet on my tattoo 24/7 since about a week after being zapped, in the hopes of curbing the scarring. Today I took it off, in preparation for the doctor having a look at it tomorrow. I thus also had a good, long hard look at my tattoo, up close in the mirror, with a bright white flashlight beam shining upon it.
The keloid is bad. I mean, really bad. It is all deep red/pink, huge, and it looks like it's going to grow outside the boundaries of my tattoo at any moment. As soon as I took off the silicone sheet, it started itching so much. I'm not going to have the silicone sheet on tonight, so I hope I don't scratch it in my sleep.
The rest of my tattoo, well, most of it, is all scarred up, with some areas scarred worse than others.
But to be honest with you all, I really don't think I would want excision so early in my removal journey if it weren't for that keloid. I mean, if that keloid wasn't there, I think I'd keep going with the laser for at least another 5 treatments.
But the keloid is there. And it's casting a shadow over my optimism for tattoo removal by laser.
And that is the reason why I feel it would be better for me to get this thing cut out, instead of having to roll the dice many, many times with laser. The odds are stacked against me here; there; everywhere.
Let's see how tomorrow goes.
'Holes' in the tattoo
These next two updates will be posted straight after each other. I was supposed to do this one last night but didn't get around to it, and I just thought of the next one this morning. But they are both important.
So maybe about a few weeks ago, I thought it'd be a great idea to massage my tattoo, because I read somewhere that it's good for scars. So I went ahead and massaged the tattoo when I was in the shower, with soap acting as a lubricant.
I got out and I noticed a few small 'holes' all over my tattoo. I immediately thought that it must be that pieces of the surface layer of the skin must be falling off, because underneath these holes was solid black and all around and everywhere else. It was a bit intriguing, to be honest, and I thought even that maybe what I thought was a scar wasn't actually a scar, it was just some milky-looking top layer of (probably dead) skin that could come off.
But the next day, these holes were gone, so I didn't think much about it, nor did I think of posting an update about it.
Yesterday I was rubbing my tattoo a lot in the shower, mainly the keloid scar and around it. Not because I wanted to massage it, but because it was so itchy. Anyway, I get out and the holes are there again, but only in the places I rubbed it.
Thus, I thought, better post an update about it.
It's really weird. Maybe I can peel off this milky layer? I thought it was just scarring?
I hope the medical professionals that I am seeing soon will have a better idea about it than I currently do.
Postulations about scarring
I had plastic surgery on my face (not cosmetic) about a year and a half ago, which required two incisions. The surgeon whom operated on me was aware of the fact that Asians tend to scar worse and more easily than Caucasians. He said he took this into account when operating, and afterwards, told me to wear sunscreen and use the silicone sheets. The two cuts were tiny and the scars were as well. However, I wasn't as diligent as he had told me to be. I hardly wore suncreen, and hardly used the silicone sheets. Despite this, I can't see any trace of the scars anymore. They seem to have faded so much that they are undetectable.
I had a shoulder operation a little more than a year ago, which required three incisions. Two of them were at the front of the body, and the third cut was on the backside of my shoulder. This surgeon was quite crude in every aspect, in my opinion. He was not the kind of guy you would be friends with. Anyway, I used the silicone sheets, a little more diligently than I had before, but still not the optimal 24/7 treatment. Note, I only used it on my front two scars, and the silicone sheet would oftentimes come off the skin and out of place because of my arm movement. Now, the scars are pretty ugly. The cut on the back of my shoulder is a full keloid scar, and one on the front is a partial keloid partial hypertrophic scar, with the third one on the front just being a hypertrophic scar, with quite a bit of red pigment surrounding the wound.
The keloid scar on my tattoo only sprang up after I stopped using the silicone sheets following my first laser treatment (I found the silicone really tedious). Needless to say, I now use them most diligently, 24/7, like I should have all along. I feel that if I'd used the silicone sheets from the start as diligently as I do now, I wouldn't have this keloid scar that is causing me the majority of my worries.
The take home message is this: surgeon's skill is paramount. If you have a surgeon that either can't or won't cut you in a way that can minimise scarring, the most diligent aftercare and scar treatment will only help you a little. That having said, though, aftercare and scar treatment is essential in drastically lowering the chances of you scarring up badly.
I see the GP this afternoon. I'll update to let you all know how it goes down.
7 Weeks Post Treatment #2; Decision Made
Today has got to be one of the worst I've had in recent history.
First up, I had philosophy class and a lot of people misinterpreted what I said about the dualism of reason and passion from Descartes and a fair few got offended. Actually. It was a nightmare. A classmate of mine thought it was funny though, and she was telling me that whilst everyone was angry she tried really hard not to laugh. Figures. I guess some people manage to see the best of things all the time.
Then, I couldn't make it to my scheduled GP appointment, because of a pretty stupid reason - I just stayed at uni and chatted with some (new) friends and lost track of time. I know, pretty dumb. But I had lots to talk about over lunch and had a great time making a new friend so I guess it wasn't all bad?
So I had to call that medical centre up (I had never been there before) and said I can't make it, can I reschedule, sorry so sorry. The receptionist rescheduled for 45 mins later, which was great and I could make that appointment no worries.
So I get there and instantly I have a bad feeling about the place, just from the look of it. I sat down and waited, and then my name was called.
The GP was extremely stony faced. He just pointed in the room, I sat down and he said "how are you?" in a really flat kind of voice like he didn't even care.
I told him I was here for a referral to a dermatologist because I think I was misdiagnosed with rosacea and because my tattoo has scarred up after laser. I said that I wanted to talk to him about it first though.
He didn't say anything. He didn't talk to me about any of it, he thought I was just there for the referral, which I said I wasn't - I wanted to talk to him about the issues as well.
He didn't seem to want to help. He just typed up this referral letter, and he didn't even know where it was (the letter had two different suburbs on it). Then said thanks, goodbye.
I left there feeling like I wanted to cry. I went to the receptionist and asked her straight away if she could put me with another GP right then and there but she didn't seem to hear me. She looked up the dermatologist's place and I told her it was too far. At that point, that GP that I saw came out and we all decided that the receptionist would find another dermatologist and reprint the referral letter for the GP to sign. So I sat back down and waited for about 10 minutes or so.
Then I decided forget about it. Forget this awful place with its awful doctor(s), I don't need this. So I got up, told the receptionist not to worry about it, got the letter back and walked out. All the receptionists at the desk (there were 3) knew that I was extremely disappointed and saddened. I couldn't hide it. I left there feeling so crushed. The consultation was just terrible.
So I went back to Hyde Park Medical Centre (the same building as the laser clinic) that I had wanted to avoid for the purposes of medical advice regarding my tattoo (because the owner of the laser clinic is also a GP there). This medical centre was just up the road from where I was, so it wasn't a long walk. I went up and asked if there were any available appointments but they said they were all booked out today.
So I looked up another place that was a short train ride away and in the direction of my home (which I'd be going back to anyway, obviously) and booked in there.
I actually got lost on the way, and had to get directions from the receptionist over the phone, which I think was frustrating for all.
Unexpectedly, despite having an appointment, I had to wait over half an hour.
But I went in and saw the doctor. He was very nice; a welcome departure from the experience I had had just earlier. I spoke to him about other things as well, in great detail, and he was just a great listener. He was very attentive and receptive (not like the guy I saw earlier, who made me feel like I wasn't worth the air I was breathing). He seemed like he actually (and I'm sure he did) care about me. In hindsight, he is probably one of the best GPs I have ever seen.
Anyway, we spoke at length, for almost an hour. I'll skip all the other stuff we talked about, and just describe what's relevant to my tattoo.
So I said I'm looking to get my tattoo removed; I have a keloid scar on it; the rest of it is also pretty scarred up; I have keloids on other parts of my body. He said straight up that it's best if I just left it alone. I explained to him that that wasn't going to happen, and that I was leaning toward excision, because I didn't think laser treatment would be that efficacious for my tattoo anymore.
He actually and unexpectedly knew quite a bit about what the procedure would involve. He had had plastic surgery 20 years earlier himself.
Anyway, he drew on a piece of paper the two ways a plastic surgeon might go about the excision.
The first is by cutting out a large, horizontal oval (Americans would call an "oval" an "ellipse") flab of skin covering the tattoo and a bit more of the surrounding skin. The skin above and below the wound is then sewn together. This scar will be a single, horizontal scar that would probably be about 10 cm long.
The second is a little more complicated. It is called the 'flaps' procedure (or so I heard) and involves cutting some skin out and dragging two 'flaps' of skin on either side back together. It involves many more cuts in the skin, and the area cut would be much bigger (I think). It would also result in an 'L' or 'Z' shaped scar.
But again, the doctor said straight up if he were me, he'd leave it. I said I want this tattoo gone, and I'm willing to take the risk of keloid scarring. He said okay, and that the next step I should take would be to go for a consultation with a plastic surgeon.
He said (and I suspected already) that laser would probably not be able to achieve full removal of my tattoo. Fading, yes, but not full removal. Full removal, he said, would require digging quite deep with the laser, which would cause more scarring.
All that said, he told me that seeing a dermatologist about my tattoo would be pointless, as I am no longer looking to have laser treatment on it, and the scars on the tattoo are thus also no longer an obstacle.
I will henceforth be ceasing laser treatments for the removal of my tattoo. I will no re-divert all my efforts towards looking into surgical excision of my tattoo.
Photo update will be posted next Friday, at the 8 week post treatment #2 mark, as promised many times before.
Video of Treatment #1
I'm very happy that realself finally have a video uploading system.
As some of you may know, on the day of my very first laser treatment, I actually filmed it on my phone. I had wanted to upload it alongside my treatment update way back then and there (some time in March, I think [wow, time really does fly]), but there was no way of doing that without linking it from a third party website.
You can see how much of a wimp I am, because she has to stop every few zaps (it hurt quite a bit).
Anyway, here it is now. I hope it helps.
A disclaimer: Before I shot it, I asked the technician if it was okay and I informed her I intended to put it on the internet. She said it was fine. You don't actually see any of her (apart from her hands, I don't think), but you do hear her voice.
Also, apologies for my voice; it's actually really low and a lot of microphones don't pick up those frequencies very well so I often sound very bad on videos such as these that are taken on mobile phones.
Furthermore, I'm aware (and I'm sure most people on this site around this time are) that there is some competition going around right now that if you upload a video, you have the chance of winning an iPhone 6. I would like to inform readers of my review that this current competition is by no means my motivation for sharing this video; I simply want to share it in the hopes that I help someone, anyone. In fact, I'm not even eligible for winning, as I don't live in the USA.
8 Weeks (+1 Day) Post Treatment #2
First up, I want to apologise for not having this update published yesterday, as I've been promising and promising and promising for weeks and weeks and weeks. I've been super busy with uni stuff and work, and my internet has been really buggy for the last few.
Anyway, here it is: 8 weeks post (+ 1 day) treatment #2. This is likely to be the last laser tattoo removal treatment I am ever going to have.
I've got some photos up here, and they mainly focus on the different types of scars I have on my tattoo and on my body. I have photos up here, and then copies of the same photos but with colour-coded labels describing what (I think) it all is. It'll make more sense once you see. Sorry for the messiness of the freehand drawn labels.
I want to stress the salience of these labelled photos (I know some of you know by the way I am typing that I am in a pretty deflated and unenthusiastic mood right now, and I am). These photos allow you all to understand just how messed up my tattoo has become. Literally all of it is scar tissue, some keloidal, some hypertrophic, some inflammed, but all very ugly. The whole tattoo is raised, and always has been. It doesn't feel like normal skin's texture, either. This should hopefully allow you to understand and empathise with why I am now looking to have it excised. In fact, I think I could say that I (almost) have no other option but for excision.
Here is an extended description of each photo.
The first photo, 'Close-up' is a close-up, as the name suggests.
The second photo is 'Close-up' except with colour-coded labels. They mean:
Blue = keloidal scarring; Orange = inflammed hypertrophic scarring; Yellow = raised hypertrophic scarring; Green = (possibly) unscarred or genuinely fading areas.
The third photo is of my upper left body. I want you to note the two scars that appear in the top right quadrant of the photograph. They are scars from a shoulder operation that I had over a year ago. For some quiet reflection amongst yourselves (and yes, I mean you, reading this right now), and feel free to drop a comment about this too, how noticeable do you think those scars are? It is likely that if I had excision, my scar would turn out like those would, with some possible keloidal areas (or if I'm unlucky, all of it will be a keloid), except much, much bigger.
The fourth photo is my upper left body except with labels. Note that:
Green = hypertrophic surgical scar; Blue = hypertrophic and partly keloidal surgical scar.
These photos also show quite clearly that laser treatment simply isn't going to work.
Laser tattoo removal works by breaking up the solid ink into small particles that can then be flushed away by the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is in the blood, which in turn is in blood vessels. Scar tissue has fewer or no blood vessels. As such, the lymphatic system has great difficulty in removing foreign substances such as ink particles in scar tissue. Furthermore, scar tissue acts as a barrier to the laser, hindering the ability of the laserbeam to break down the solid ink into particles in the first place.
Anyway, as you can see from the photos, the majority of my tattoo is scar tissue. Thus, laser is just not viable. It may fade the tattoo, but will most definitely result in more scar tissue, and complete removal is highly unlikely.
Looking back and then looking at now, I just have to think: what a mess.
Okay I'm sorry about my last two updates, and how they're written in a sort of quasi-academic-English-yet-trying-to-be-casual style; I've been writing assignments (which is why I've been super busy) so that kind of writing style has rubbed off unintentionally on these updates. It may have read like I was in a really detached mood, but I wasn't (at least I don't think I was?).
I now want to make a post about the tattoo as of right now.
I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but I had put on a silicone sheet 24/7 since 1 week post treatment #2. The night before my last GP visit (7 weeks post treatment 2; the day where I pretty much confirmed to myself that excision was the way to go), I took it off. As you may have read from above updates, it was after this GP consultation that I decided that laser was not very efficacious for me anymore, and I was leaning steeply towards excision.
So because I planned to no longer have any laser treatments and to have my tattoo cut out, I am no longer worried about the existing tattoo's scars or potential scars.
So I stopped using silicone sheets.
But first, let me just say that I really do believe silicone sheets are helpful (but not as much as I'd like them to be). I believe that they stopped another keloid developing, and flattened (somewhat) my existing scarring.
Immediately after I stopped using silicone sheets, my tattoo (and by "tattoo", I now mean "scar[s]") became incredibly itchy. I mean, it was the itchiest itch I had experienced in recent history. It would itch spontaneously and for no reason, after no contact.
I put some moisturiser on it, because I thought that it might be due to dryness, and in a few days' time, the itchiness died down considerably (I caution: that may not be due to the moisturiser use necessarily; it could have just been the passage of time).
Now (a week and a bit on), it's itchy sometimes, but when it itches, it does not itch with the intensity that it did a week and a bit ago.
But that brings me to the next point:
The skin (of the tattoo, of course) is wrecked. Completely wrecked. It always has been, I guess, but it was probably with the application of silicone sheets that I tricked myself into repeatedly believing that it was all going to get better, so whilst I was using silicone, the state of my skin didn't seem to matter so much. But now that I've stopped using it, I know (for sure, instead of deluding myself) that it isn't going to get any better, I see plainly now how messed up my skin is. The skin is dry, raised, scarred, textured differently, is super sensitive, stings sometimes, and itches often.
You may all be thinking: I'm getting excision so why care? True, I don't care, really. But it is so that I just have to stop and think "Wow!" at the state of how bad the laser (and/or tattoo application) has been to my skin. If excision isn't viable, I don't know what I'd do.
Now, moving along. I'm going to post a question to the doctors here on realself, and ask them what they reckon of excising my tattoo. Basically, I'll want to know if they think it is even possible; if there are any potential complications; what they think it will involve (how many cuts and where); what they think it will turn out like (scar-wise); what the aftercare and rehabilitation would involve and how long it would take.
I still need to have a good, long and hard think about tattoo excision. I will post an update about my thoughts when I collect them (I'm still super busy right about now; it's not that I don't have time to post updates, because that's just writing, it's that I don't have time to properly think things through). Note: I have not 100% made up my mind on excision yet. My decision will be mostly based on such a "good, long and hard think about tattoo excision".
It will have to wait
So it's been a while since my last update. I have a few things to touch on.
First, sorry I've been away a while. I have been super busy (well, who isn't, right?) so I haven't had the time to think or update you all.
Now, I'm glad to say there's another reason I haven't really updated until now. About a month ago, I suddenly stopped 'obsessing' about this tattoo. Really. One day, I just stopped thinking about it (so much). And it felt good. Because thinking about it makes me sad. I feel uncertain, and almost helpless. So I've also stopped updating as often, mainly because not thinking about it gives me nothing to write about. Other users here know that the more frequent your updates are, the more 'obsessed' you are, and that's probably not a good thing, so I'm pretty glad I've 'calmed down' a bit now.
So recently, though, I went through this phase of about a week or so when my keloid scar was really itchy. Like, really, really itchy. I scratched it. Not fully scratch, but sort of grabbed the shirt I was wearing and rubbed the fabric against the scar. I know, I know. Shouldn't do that. And it probably made things worse.
In fact, I think that the keloid may have grown since then (I haven't been using the silicone sheet ever since my last GP visit ages and ages ago). I'm pretty sure the keloid has gotten wider. I'll do an photo update in the near future to try and compare the scars.
Anyway, to my news, which is the namesake of this update.
I have been nominated on a short term (about 6 weeks) exchange program in Norway. So I'll be studying at the University of Bergen over the summer (our summer) from the start of January to mid February. I'M SO EXCITED!!!
Anyway, I had planned to have my tattoo excised over this long summer break (if I was to go through with the surgery). I can't do that now, not only because I have no time, but this trip is going to cost me a significant amount of money. Probably more than the surgery will cost itself. I'm working full-time hours at my new job starting next week, but I still don't think it will (ever) be enough for all the things I need (rather, want) to do.
So I'm thinking maybe I can do the surgery in my winter break (July 2015). But we will see if I have enough cash for it.