Five Year Old Tattoo Removal - USA

Hi all, So before I graduate and head into a...

Hi all,

So before I graduate and head into a rather client-facing career, i've decided that it would be best to have my tattoo removed. That, and it's been bothering me for some time now. I don't like it at all. It's a circular (5cm x 5cm) symbol of a band I used to like (rather foolish I know) with only black ink and located on my forearm. I've had one treatment so far, slightly less than a week ago.

I admire the support that i've seen in this community. It's a rather long journey and even now, just after my first treatment, I can see that it is going to take a lot of patience and focus but i'm looking forward to documenting it on here and hearing back from you guys as we are all on the same journey! :)

So I had my first treatment last Friday on the Revlite Q-switched YAG. The fluence level was set at 1 or 1.5, can't remember which. It didn't hurt a terrible amount. Since then, I've had no bleeding, blisters or scabbing at all which kind of makes me think the energy level was too low? I've seen very minimal fading during this first week but I've read that I may not notice anything until about 4-6 weeks after treatment when it will begin breaking down the pigments? Keen to hear if that's what other people have experienced too.

Anyway, I hope to continue updating as I progress through the treatment, although I think perhaps I will hold off on treatments for as long as possible (>2 months) to try to maximise fade in-between treatments and hopefully save some money.

Thanks guys :)

Adding photos

Just to add some photos. The fading that is already noticeable is actually from when the tattoo was done, it wasn't filled in properly. No obvious fading from the treatment yet (as far as I can see).

Quick update

Hi all, thought i'd add a quick update.

I'm coming up on two weeks post treatment #1 and see no signs of fading. Practicing super patience at the moment, keeping hopeful that I see something happen in the next few weeks when I next update.

I'm reading along with all you guys as well, keep up the great work! Keeping me motivated!

Going to book in second session

Hey guys, so it's coming up on five weeks and i've not noticed too much fading so i've decided i'll probably book it in at the 6 week point (i'll probably do so tomorrow.) Hoping to see a big difference with this next session! I'll be sure to tell the doctor to turn it up.

Looking forward to reading some of your updates tomorrow and updating you again just prior to the session and for a couple of weeks after.

Hope you're all going well!

Second session completed

Hi guys,

I had my second session! The doctor had the laser set at 3.5 with a 6mm spot. I'm hoping I see quite a reaction from it!

I've put up a before and immediate after shot. I'll update every few days with progress. I'm quite excited!


Hi guys! So it's a day after my 2nd treatment and it's still a bit red and swollen, but pulling through well! I'll add a picture as it starts to heal!

I just wanted to ask, what is the general opinion on drinking alcohol a couple days post-treatment? Does it tend to hinder the process?


3 days post 2nd treatment!


It's been three days and I think i've noticed a bit of fading. The area remained a little sore for a couple of days but now i'm feeling the itching... I guess i'll now get to see how bad it gets!

Anyway, i've added some photos including 1 day post and 3 days post. I've been super busy so I haven't been able to read your updates but I will when I get some time! Apologies for the lighting in some of the photos. Feeling optimistic about this session!

Thanks guys!

Not seeing much progress?

Hey guys, i'd really like your input here.

It's been over 5 weeks since my second treatment. I've attached a pic of my progress as of today. I am rather disappointed with how much it is faded, it only seems to have faded slightly on a small part. I was wondering whether I should confront my current doctor and ask that a far higher energy level is used for my next treatment, as this last one was at level of 3.5 and (in my opinion) hasn't done much at all. Either that or I wait a few more weeks to see if I do get any more fading. I just don't want to throw money away at these treatments.

My lack of progress is bringing my motivation down, i'm was quite sure that I would see a lot more fading after my first couple of sessions.

What do you think? Maybe you're seeing something I'm not?
Was this review helpful? 1 other found this helpful

Comments (30)

Sort by

Hey - try not to be too despondent, you're still very early on in your treatment! Having said that, and this is obviously just my opinion, I agree that the power sounds like it needs to go up. I can understand why they use a low fluence for the first treatment - to see how the skin reacts/heals etc, but 3.5j for the second treatment doesn't sound enough to me. If the power isn't high enough then you the laser will barely react with the ink. I'd let your doctor know that you're feeling disappointed thus far, and that you're ready to have things cranked up a bit! Like you say, you're paying decent money for this, you need to see results. Keep at it :)
  • Reply
Thanks! That's what i'm thinking, I don't think it's reacting too much at all. What level should I be aiming for for my next treatment? 5.5J or possibly more?
  • Reply
I'm not too sure to be honest, I just think 3.5 sounds too low. My last treatment was at around 10j! I would say 5+ should be where you're heading for treatment 3.
  • Reply
Thanks for the reply mate. It definitely helps to hear your opinion and it kind of reaffirms where I think I want to go for my next session.
  • Reply
I don't mean to rain on others' parade...but I'd like to point out that 1) you should always seek professional advice, in person professional advice. They can see your skin, discuss the reaction. And secondly, those that suggest a higher level, risk residual redness. I have seen questions on the "ask an expert" asking about this very thing. To offer the suggestion to bump up the laser level is simply not good advice. Intentions may be admirable, you want the best for the followers here, but let's leave it up to the professionals, to offer in person advice. We, here on this forum, can offer support, encouragement and perhaps some guidelines to be discussed with professionals. But we simply do not replace professional, medical experts. I have seen far too many people on this forum, offering advice, and I can no longer stay silent. We may be experienced with our personal stories, but we are not experts. We can only offer support.
  • Reply
I agree, Kahelelani, you're absolutely right. I did preface my original comment with "and this is just my opinion". Ultimately, it's down to the doctor or technician on to decide how to proceed and and with what fluences etc. The most important thing, I find, is the ask questions, and keep on asking them. If you think they're not treating you with sufficient power then it's important to make them aware that you're feeling that way, so they can suitably respond and let you know exactly why they're doing what they're doing.
  • Reply
Hi Kahelelani, I absolutely agree, I am aware though that it was merely wilks opinion and is not something I would take verbatim as medical advice.
  • Reply
aloha wilks1986, I do not see "this is just my opinion" in the original comment. But I'm relieved that you agree that it is up to the medical professionals.
  • Reply
Hopefully my original comment loaded correctly - it begins with... "Hey, try not to be too despondent" and then mentions that this is purely my opinion. Its currently located at the top of this comments section.
  • Reply
I was told no alcohol before or after the laser sessions. Just like Eva G has said below. Alcohol interfers with the healing process. Your immune system has to be in top notch condition to gobble up the lasered ink particles. I was given an aftercare sheet and I'm looking at it. It says to limit exercise for a few days afterwards, to prevent bumping any blisters. I was told to eat a healthy diet, limit sugar and processed foods. Don't scrub in the shower, keep bandaged until blisters have healed and protect from the sun. I know this the hard way, it felt like it was burning, but I live in the tropics. Drink lots of fluids, healthy fluids. Stay safe. As for my experience, the laser setting on the alex trivantage was low in the beginning and I had few blisters. Blisters are not your friend. Then with each session they increased. The highest I ever was was 5.5. I've had ten sessions, most of them in the 5 range. This all takes time, patience...I know that may suck at times, but it's definitely worth it. Good luck...aloha...k
  • Reply
Thank you so much for your reply (and sorry i'm a bit late!) Thanks for your advice with the aftercare, i've definitely made it a priority to stay on track with my water consumption, diet and exercise! It does really suck, it requires so much patience. I'm constantly trying to picture the final result to keep my motivation levels up, but it is a long, long journey.
  • Reply
I would not recommend drinking alcohol before or after this treatment, however I am no expert and would suggest you check with your Doctor, and or feel free to Ask A Doctor on the site. 
  • Reply
Hi! Stay patient, I'm sure you will see some fading with the next few treatments! Patience is much easier said than done for sure, but it's key to getting through this process. Hang in there!
  • Reply
Thanks! I guess something positive out of all this is really learning to be patient and expecting that good things can happen over time, not suddenly!
  • Reply
Thanks for keeping us in the loop - good luck :)
  • Reply
Hey, untatme is probably right, it sounds like they were probably gauging the reaction of your skin. 1.5J is really quite low and it's unlikely it wouldn't have had much of an interaction with the tattoo pigment. Depending on your financial situation, you could probably press them to get back in for another session in another 3 or 4 weeks, as I imagine the skin has already healed, due to minimal damage. Don't be disheartened, you'll probably see a big difference after your next treatment, provided they crank things up a bit :)
  • Reply
Thanks! Definitely hoping they'll turn it up this next time around. Does anyone know of a good level for second session? My skin really is quite fair and I got pretty much no reaction from 1.5 so I think I could handle quite a bit more (and i'm really after heaps of fading this time around.)
  • Reply
It'll depend entirely on what the technician feels is right. It's not uncommon for them to go in with a larger spot size and a low fluence at your first full treatment to gauge the skin reaction, unfortunately this can mean not a great deal of interaction happens with ink. Be sure to let them know, at your next treatment, that your skin handled that last session with ease, and that you saw very little happen - this'll hopefully see them crank things up a notch. The RevLite is a good laser - should be able to take care of your all-black tattoo!
  • Reply
Thanks, I mentioned it and we ended up going 6mm and 3.5 fluence. It seemed to have a more prominent effect than my first treatment so fingers crossed I see something out of this!
  • Reply
I felt like I did not have and fading either after my first treatment. I think for me they have the laser on a lower setting to see how my skin would handle the laser, maybe that's what the Dr. is doing for you.
  • Reply
Did you notice that they turned it up on your second treatment and it started fading a bit better? What level did they go to if you don't mind me asking?
  • Reply
Yes, they turned the laser to I think 3.5 on my second treatment. But I think that is even pretty low of a setting. A lot of people on here looks like they start at 3.0 and go lower. this last time the Dr. Used two different settings. A higher one for the dark spots and a lower one for the very faded spots!
  • Reply
I just noticed i think the number levels are different for Yag and Pico so my numbers might not help you.
  • Reply
I'm on 900 kj it hurts but works!
  • Reply
I can definitely see some fading. It's hard sometimes to see in photos, but yours is wonderfully obvious. Yes, ink removal takes patience and positivity. That's one thing that's great about this forum, you get positive feedback from many here. I have had ten sessions done and with each I see more and more fading. Yes, it takes some time, and there's nothing to get around that. Cover up make up helps as well as those sleeves, if it's possible to wear them. Good luck with your removal, keep us posted. Stay positive, patient and be persistent. It takes time, but it's worth it and so are you. aloha...k
  • Reply