From Regret to Despair: A Cover-Up Tattoo Made Me Feel I'd Destroyed My Body

Eva G on 27 Aug 2013 at 1:00pm

In an attempt to camouflage a small tattoo on her back, community member Eva G ended up with an even bigger nightmare. This is her journey, in her own words.
I’m 40, I manage a contact center, and I’m a fitness fiend. I had a small tattoo on my spine, which I wasn’t liking, so I decided that I would get a cover-up tattoo over it. 

The original tattoo was of the elements, they were little zen circles with symbols inside of them. I only had it for about a year, but I was never happy with it. It wasn’t done well, it was really light and it wasn’t done by an experienced artist.

The artist who did the cover-up work was very skilled, but I don’t know what happened. He didn’t execute it the way we had agreed upon. He simply went too dark, too big, and everything was just too overdone. As soon as I saw it, I was like, “No!”

After that happened, I literally could not leave my bedroom. I sat on my bed and was rocking myself because I had anxiety to the extreme. My 17 year-old son came into my room and said, “Mom, it’s not that bad, it looks okay...” and I said, “No it doesn’t, it looks horrible.”

The tattoo made me very self-conscious. I felt like I had destroyed my body. I hid behind clothes and have probably spent thousands on new clothes. If I wear a regular t-shirt, you can see the tips of the tattoo. At 40 years old, I expected to be more confident -- but sometimes I felt like I’d taken a step back, and found myself not trusting my decisions.

Going to my first treatment, I was very nervous, and cried quite a bit. There were so many different emotions... a lot of regret.  The first treatment wasn’t that painful, it did hurt, but it was nothing like I had anticipated. I had 30 minutes of numbing before the procedure, and it felt like everyone has described it, like rubber bands or grease splatter on your skin.
After the first session was complete, oh gosh, it was awful. It looked like someone had poured acid on my back. It bubbled and the whole thing blistered, it was red and super dark.
The 3rd session was much more painful. Sorry to tell you all, but when they turn up the laser, the pain really does get worse!  The throbbing lasted about 2 hours and late in the day, felt more like a sunburn.
By the 8th session, well, what can I say... pretty much the same drill... lots of blisters and feels like a sunburn. Now it's just peeling like crazy. I want a tree in my house, and want to rub my back all over it like a bear! It feels so good to brush off the dead skin.

Some days I look at it and think, “Wow, it’s fading so well,” and other days I look at it and go,“Ugh... it’s not doing anything.” I have [doubtful] feelings that it will be fully removed, but I’m just going to keep on trying. 
To see "after" photos from each of Eva G's tattoo removal sessions, click to read her review.

I had been hiding behind T-shirts and high-necked tops, being careful to not allow my tattoo to show [and recently], I went to the beach.  It was hot, and I had my T-shirt with a rather strappy sports bra underneath, and I thought, "Enough! What am I so afraid of?" So I got brave, and off my top went... and a rush of relief and all the fear I had just flowed out of me. 
I’m preparing mentally for the fact that I might have to get another tattoo in place of what I have. I just need to find one that fits me. It’s like finding that perfect outfit, but wearing it for life.
 -- As told to Nicole Fukuoka, with gratitude to Eva G for sharing her journey.
Willing to share your journey with us? Email us here.
Or, have questions above tattoo removal? Read doctor answers below:
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