Full Arm Tattoo, Major Regret, Now What to Do...? - Box Hill, Australia

So after many years of thought and debate I...

So after many years of thought and debate I decided to get a water-colour arm tattoo. I wouldn't say it was a hasty decision, but I should have spent some more time with the design... That's neither here nor there now. Fact is, it's not me, I don't like it, and I need it gone. I've found this website so helpful in the past week since I've had the tattoo that I thought I should contribute.

I guess some things are just not meant to be and this is one of them. I've been researching in my depressed state, as I don't really feel I can do anything else, and have booked a consultation with a facility tomorrow. They have pico as well as all other lasers, and are very reputable within Australia. I'm dreading the cost per sessions, but again, the price you have to be for mistakes...

Admittedly I have been in a hole the past three to four days, can barely eat, sleep, concentrate, anything... It's amazing what some ink under your skin can do. But I guess it's not cancer, and I'm not dying. I imagine that if someone had a terminal illness and they could simply though a lot of money at it to make it go away, they would without question. So I'm using that as my motivation...

I guess the one blessing I do have is that my tattoo is a watercolour tattoo, meaning that most of the inks are pretty light to begin with and are applied in a bit more of a wash than buried into the skin in a traditional style of tattoo. I hope that helps in some way. The other benefit is I have minimal red, and it's contained to a couple of small areas. Again, I hope this can help in the overall process...

So, here's we go, on this journey. I will document my case in as much detail as possible, but for now it'll be about a 4 week wait for my first treatment as the work is only two weeks old at a the moment.

I've posted a picture for you to see, this is obviously only two weeks old and with zero treatments at all... Happy to hear your thoughts, and would love a bit of moral support if you can spare some.

Thanks so much.

Todays mental journey...

Today was a very funny day, I woke up this morning in partial light and looked down at my forearm (the part I like the least) and due to its colour, I couldn't see anything. For a moment, I thought it was a dream... then of course I realised it wasn't... but I felt warm knowing that I had my laser consultation in about two hours, I felt hope....

So I went to the clinic, which is operated by one of the best dermatologists in Australia, Dr Bekhor. The Nurse that I saw, Anne, was avery lovely lady, made me feel at home and very safe. Im sure they know how scary this can be for us!! Anyway, she asked me to show her my arm, I did... as I lifted up my sleeve, she said "oh my, thats beautiful, I really like it"... she actually said this more than once during the consultation, but more on that later.

Dr Bekhors clinic has 12 lasers in total, for just about anything. They use three different types for tattoos, The Pico, The YAG, and another, these guys are straight out pro's and you can tell every step of the way. I advised that it was really the forearm that I wanted gone, and again Anne said "really, but thats the best bit".. haha, oh the irony!! She advised that this would be quick and easy due to the nature of the blue and green, and the effectiveness of the Pico on such colours, and we'd see it about 90% gone in three or four visits.... We discussed the rest of the arm and she advised that we'd need some YAG, and some Pico for the whole thing... but being realistic, we'd be working on that for at least a year... fair enough. Now Im a fully grown man right, but at this moment, I shed a tear, and just said to this woman "thank you... thanks you for being some helpful, so nice, and so accommodating, I really needed that right now"... she truly was a lovely human being.

Summing up Id be looking at about 500 per session for the forearm with Pico, and on the upper arm there'd be about 500 Pico and 270 YAG... My research led me to think Id be up for about 1200 - 1500 per arm, and considering this is one of the best places going around, I thought it was very fair.

At this point I was done, jumped in my car and drove to work... heres when things stated to change.

I had a meeting this afternoon with one of my suppliers, who has one or two tattoos. Ive not seen him in a while so he noticed my tatt poking out of my shirt sleeve. Im like, "urrrgh, I don't wanna do this right now", but he was like, "show me, show me..." I lifted my short sleeve and he was like "holy s**t man, that thing is bitchin', its bloody amazing, Iove it"... It actually warmed me up inside and lifted my fog a little more... I of course wrestled with a little more up and down through the day, but I felt lighter overall.

When I got home this evening, I had to go and get dinner... you know what I did? I put on a singlet!! now I haven't worn a singlet since I got the thing, and was only just yesterday thinking about how many more long sleeve shirts I'm going to need for the next year of treatment!! Guess what happened when I went out in a singlet!? No one vomited, no one died, no one arrested me... I saw my tatt in some windows from a distance and I actually thought, "hey, thats actually pretty cool"???

So whats going on here???

Ive been thinking a few things... One is definitely, how your tattoo looks in a mirror up close, when started at for 8 minutes straight, is not how it looks to everyone else in the world. Another thing thats been running through my head is the possibility of an almost "body dismorphia" going on in our minds... How we are seeing ourselves with these tattoos is not how we thought we'd look, but its how we were always going to look, and its exactly how we look to everyone else... Its no different than a skinny person looking in the mirror and thinking they're overweight, and obsessing over it daily... Everyone else in the world tells them they're fine and everything looks fine, they do not, and will not see it until they're mind is right. When they realise they're beautiful, they become beautiful...

Maybe its a bit of parallel to postpartum depression... A mother loves the idea of a baby, she loves it growing inside her, she loves preparing for it, she loves the thoughts of what going to happen, she dreams of how things will when the baby comes. the the baby comes, and her whole world falls apart, she hates it, she wants it gone, shed give it bad if she could... but you know what, she can't. She realises she needs help, and she needs to adjust, she adjusts, she learns that this change is the way things are now, and eventually, she loves that baby like nothing else and could never imagine her life without it.

We are all naturally afraid of change, I know I am, I have always feared dramatic change, and have basically fallen apart whenever anything in my life has changed out of my control. But you know what, you adjust, and you get used it , and you soon never even remember what was different... Theres definitely some of that going on with us... We have changed ourselves, so dramatically in some cases and the thing thats different, is this change is our doing!! So we obsess, we beat ourself up, we drive ourselves insane, because in 90% of cases change is thrown upon us, and we pride ourselves on being able to overcome it. In this instance, we have made the change ourselves, so we hate ourselves for it... This is not necessary! I am only now seeing that this change to myself, that I chose, needs to be adapted to, and overcome, exactly as any other!! Panic is what drives us to rush for the fix, that may or may not be necessary given it the time...

The final thing that Ive been thinking of is the very nature of tattoos and they're origin. Tattoos were never a thing of beauty, they were never to be admired, you know what they were for?? to signify change!! They were a sign of men entering manhood, leaving behind an old self, and being reminded daily that they were now something else, something different... and none of these people got to walk into a parlour and choose their tattoos, they were tribal, instinctive, and they were forever!! Of course today we are gifted with the ability to choose some great art, and to have it signify some really important things to ourselves... but have we put too much stock in that? I mean, we say things like "its just not me"... of course its not you, it was never going to be you, it was going to be a picture of something made of ink under your skin! A tattoo will never be any more you than a hand bad or a pair of shoes, the difference, and the test is simple, we can't through these tattoos away as easily as a hand bag or a pair of shoes...

Today, like anything we don't commit to things, we live in a disposable society, we don't like our phone, we get a new one, we don't like our job, we get a new one, we don't like our spouse, we get a new one... we don't like out Tatt, WE MUST GET IT REMOVED!! No, you don't, it may change you, it may become your inspiration to drive forward, it may become the thing you look back on and love in a few years as they thing that made you shift your thinking to a whole new level... and you know what... it might not... and you know what else? The lasers will still be there!! there may even be better lasers!!

So right now Im saying this... yes, I know Im going to have more bad days, I don't doubt it, and I know that I may and can one day, even tomorrow, walk into a clinic and get my tattoo lasered. Yes it will take time, yes it will cost money, and no it may never be gone all together... But for today Im going to love me like I did yesterday, and Im going to give my tattoo a chance to become a part of me... if it doesn't, then I'll start my work. Of course this is not for everyone, of course some people hate their tattoo, they know they hate it, they've hated if for years, and they always will..

Natually this doesn't apply to those people... this is for those of us that are in the "tattoo honeymoon hangover", as I am...

I know all of this is really off topic, but I see such a strong community here, and I see so many people feeling how I have been feeling, so I just want to share for now, my mental joinery, at least until my laser journey starts... In the simple hope that I may be able to make someone relax for a moment, breathe, and realise, its all going to be ok, one way or another. Give it some time...

Much love to everyone.

Another day, and another day behind you...

Well, thats really how its beginning to feel... every day that passes is one more day that you've lived with your tattoo, and one less day that you've lived without it. In saying that, I've not been without my moments... this morning was a little bit tough, and I lost it at one point. Burst into tears, thinking once more WTF have I done, and how am I going to devote two or more years into getting rid of this thing!!?

You know what I do when I get into this state? I actually jump on here and read all the positive comments Ive gotten so far... It really is amazing how much all of you contribute in one way or another, and I really want to extend a sincere thank you. I only stumbled across this site by accident, as Im sure most of us do. Now I find myself checking in hourly to see how everyones stories are unfolding, and if theres any news from anyone. Without this community I know Id be in a much worse place than I am now...

But enough of that, whats the positive been in today... Well, as I said, I lost my shit for a few minutes this morning, jumped on the forum for a minute or two, had a shower, and started my day. I had to go and do some shopping, which of course meant leaving the house and considering it was a Sunday here that was a very hard thing to do given my current mental state. But I said no, this has to be done, time to get amongst it...

So I went though the usual deliberations... "do I wear sleeves, or a tee?", "Do I want to hide this thing in shame, or do I own it and get out there?"... Well, I decided to own it and get out there... T-Shirt time. Now of course to make it even more challenging on myself, I choose to shop at one of the busiest shopping centres in Melbourne, and its the Sunday of a long weekend here, so it was always going to be busy... worst case scenario, here we come! So off I went...

Everything went well, and Im discovering something entirely new about myself... I used to be a really vain person. I was always wrapped up in how I looked, how I dressed, and was always preoccupied with the assumptions of what people thought about me... There is still some of that in me now, but much less I feel. What Im finding is given what I/we're going through, I am far more surrendered from my physical self, and much more focused on whats going on with me mentally. Im finding Im seriously focused and observant of the world around me, as opposed to what Im thinking of me in the world... its amazing! I think its a bi-product of the separation Im implying that this tattoo is not me, and it doesn't change me... Instead, its the action of marking myself that has initiated a change, and Im actually enjoying this part of the whole thing... If I awl around thinking "All I am now is this tattoo", I'll never get out of it...

All day I found myself so more attuned to the movements, appearances and actions of other people... I found myself to be more courteous, considerate and overall attentive. Now this is a big thing for me because Im very well known to be an arrogant, self absorbed ass for the most part! I wouldn't say Im a mean person, but Im definitely not the nicest guy thats ever walked the planet...

What I did notice however, was the amount of people that do glance rather interested in my arm... I don't believe any of them are looking at me in disgust, and for some, I could catch the gaze follow me across their whole peripheral vision... There was one store I was in just browsing when the clerk came up to me (a tattooed fellow) and the first thing he said was "wow, thats a very interesting tattoo, tell me about it..." and in that moment, I realised exactly why I go this tattoo, and exactly why I got it the way I did... let me explain.

Im an audio engineer by Degree, and also write music for film... Ive always been a musician and have always been interested in the science of sound. For as long as I can remember, I wanted a tattoo that was reflective of this. Im also an admirer of abstract art, stuff that needs to be looked at for a while to be understood, stuff that you can look at 100 different times and read 100 different stories... I know when I wanted a "musical" tattoo, I didn't want a treble clef, I didn't want musical notes, I didn't want a keyboard.. I didn't want any of the off the shelf cliche type stuff I see on many musicians... and the reason I wanted it in abstract is because I wanted people that were genuinely interested in the art I chose to wear, to engage with me so that I may tell that story...

Now Im no artist in a visual sense... I mean, what I see is in my head, but I can't get it out... I can only do that through music. So when I was communicating all this stuff to my artist, I actually forgot to let go of that bit of thinking... I forgot that what I tell her and what she does, is always going to be different, unless I walk into the store and pick an image out of a book. And as an artist myself, I should have known this... art is unique, art is different, and my tattoo was never going to look like what I saw in my head, but its beauty, as Niccola pointed out, is in the story it tells, or more importantly, the story it allows me to tell...

I keep finding myself taking solace in one thing. Our tattoos do not tell a story, they do not symbolise one specific thing, because as with a well written piece of music it means something different to everyone that hears it. Yes, we put them on our bodies so signify a meaning to us, but I think from there, what they become is what we make them, the story they allow us to tell... either to ourselves or to others... So what if a leaf is out of place?, so what if the colouring isn't what we first imagined? so what if its bigger or blacker, or bolder than we first thought, they story of the tattoo is ours and ours alone to tell how we choose...

Now once again I am not in any position to preach to anyone about anything, and I am in no way doing that, Im simply sharing with everyone whats going on inside my own head... these are my thoughts, and this is the journey that Im taking with my tattoo. I am blessed to have experienced the utter, utter low of tattoo remorse, and I know so well how crushing it can be... I only hope that with my journey may come one or two pebbles that may help another...

So yes, today is now behind me, was it a great day, no. Was it my worst day, no... It started very badly, and it turned around... Yes I still ran though the process of laser today. I questioned cost, time, physical restraints and all the other things that run thought our mind that really say "GET THIS THING OFF ME". What I am learning is that you have to actively break the feedback loop yourself, stop the thought process.... and for me, a very real way to do this is to go out, with your tattoo exposed... this may not work for everyone, but I do find it is working for me. If you think it may work for you, give it a try, even if you leave a little exposed, maybe slightly more each time you go out? I could very well wake up tomorrow and be exactly where I started today, but what I do know, is today my tattoo journey taught me some things, it allowed me to feel things, and it helped me be present in the "this is", as opposed to the "one was" or "could be"... and for that I am grateful.

I hope you are all finding tiny little moments of greatness in what may at times seem like a long and dark road...

Love to you all.

everyone has a bad day.... right?

So as with everything, there are ups and downs... not everything is great all of the time. Today hasn't been the best day ever, thats for sure. I wouldn't say that Ive fallen into a hole of depression, but its definitely been a day of ups and downs...

I guess the good news for all of us today is that the new Picoway laser has been approved by the FDA of America, and will no doubt be on the uptake for the rest of the world early next year. This laser is meant to be yet another improvement on the Picosure, and early tests have in some cases shown clearances in about half the time of the Picosure. I guess for some, that could mean full clearances in under 10 treatments!! It truly is such a wonderful time to be alive...

Ive just been obsessing again, getting into the details of my tattoo, running through the day I got it over and over again, thinking about how happy and excited I was on the way to the studio thinking "its finally going to happen"... then thinking about all the things I should have done before to make sure I could have lived with my design for the rest of my life!! Im convinced Im just that much of an indecisive perfectionists that no tattoo that I can see all the time would ever meet my satisfaction... I just should have never got one on my arm I think is the simple answer...

Its really strange, there were moments a couple dog days ago when I was like... "Wow, Im actually at least perfectly content with this tattoo, and so what if its not perfect" all the time in the back of my mind I was hoping I could keep that train of thought... but then a moment of boredom sets in or a thought enters your mind and it just spirals out of control... I guess you just have to train yourself to better control those thoughts...

I don't think Ive told any of you this yet, but I am a practitioner of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu,,, One of the things I notice ever since this big change is my dedication to my art of BJJ has increased ten fold. Im not sure exactly why, but Im guessing its because I want to prove that my mind and my drive is what is the true essence of myself, and not the outer shell Im encased in. I now for sure Im going to dominate next years competitions schedule because Im truing harder than I ever have before!!

Having a hobby or an ideal to dedicate yourself to is also another fantastic help in this mental anguish, its definitely helping me... Anyway, Im going to keep it short today so as not to make this too gloomy. I'll check back in soon and hopefully am feeling bright and cheery again...

Peace out folks. xx

When things turn a corner...

Hi All,

So I thought it was definitely time I updated my progress… It’s been a life altering experience to say the least, both physical and mental, but what a ride! Obviously you’ll see by my past comments that things started out very rough, I went through some severe issues of regret, to the point of thinking that I absolutely hated this tattoo and wanted it removed…

I’m happy to say that I am probably more in love with my tattoo now than I ever thought I would have been. To the point that I’ve even booked in to have more done to it!! Is it perfect, no… is it exactly how I want it to be, no… but has it taken me on one of the most rewarding adventures of self-discovery I’ve ever been on, YES! I look at my arm most days and think, “Gee I’d like to change that part”, or “I wish I’d used a different colour there”... and you know what the irony is? Every single day, it’s a different colour I think of, or a different pattern…!! That’s just how we are, that’s basic human nature at play… and the irony is quite simply, tattoos are one of the only things in life you just can’t change as soon as you change your mind… I mentioned din an earlier post that I equate it to the whole disposable society, or too many options thing… it really is that case… I mean ask yourself, do you know anyone in the world that has worn the same clothes, lived in the same house, and owned the same car FOREVER???!! No way!! We change, our tastes change, we want things to be different, and so we should, it’s our choice…!

What I have learnt and am totally certain of now is this: In order to be a tattooed person, you need to be able to surrender perfection, idealism and the ability to change at a whim. Not for every aspect of life, but at least for the aspect of getting a permanent body alternation… But, that being said, if you want to get your tattoo changed or removed, then you can, that’s one of the gifts of modern technology. Is it expensive?, yes!, does it take a long time?, yes! But nothing that was every good was easy!!

Another thing I have learnt through this journey is we are our own worst enemies in some cases… Initially, I fell into the worst state of depression with this tattoo, simply out of the way I was telling myself what had happened. “I had destroyed my body”, “I didn’t think about it long enough”, “I didn’t think about the design long enough”, “I let the artist do what they wanted”, “I got it where too many people could see it”… and a million other things. The main problem… listen to how I was talking to myself! How could I ever feel better about myself when every minute I was trying to tell myself how hopeless I was, how much I failed, and how much I let myself down? The other thing we do, is we look ourselves indoors in this slum so no one can tell us any different…! As soon as I stepped outside, I actually felt better about my tattoo, I remembered why I got it, why I wanted it for so long, and what it actually meant to me… It’s also worth mentioning that I probably wouldn’t have ever stepped back outside if it wasn’t for this community and the shared stories and positive comments from everyone… it really changed my perspective on things.

If there’s a single piece of advice I can give to anyone going through regret or remorse, its two things: Time and Perspective. Give yourself some time to get used to your new look, and allow your mind to move away from the negative perspective we can’t help but apply to the issue. I get so many comments on my tattoo, so many compliments, and so many people tell me that it’s something they’ve never seen before. When I first looked at it, I hated it because I thought it was something no one had ever seen before!! But then I had to remember why I got it in the first place… another thing we have a really bad habit of forgetting whilst in this state of depression.

Anyway, my point is, I’m now at a really good place where I not only love my tattoo, but I am proud of it, and thankful for it simply for what it has given me. I’m going to get more work done on it, which I will inevitable regret for a while, and I’ll want to change, and I’ll grow to love!! One day I may get it all lazered off, or maybe just some of it so I can make some changes, or I may leave it exactly how it is forever and get other parts of my body tattooed? Who knows!!

Regardless, it’s all part of the journey… I hope that for some, your journey is one of getting to love your body art, and I hope for the others, that your removal journey is smooth, fast and cost effective. With this new Picoway laser on the market now, I think we’ll see even better results than before…

One thing I do want to advise, more than anything, if you have found this forum and this post, and got your tattoo in the past 30 days… wait… don’t panic… don’t hide your tattoo, and for the love of God, DON’T STAY INDOORS WITH ONLY YOURSELF. Take your tattoo out to meet people, show it off, remember why you got it, and remember YOU ARE STILL YOU!! It could turn out that you fall in love with your art given half a chance, and if you don’t… then you do have the power to get it removed, or covered, or whatever you like.

Just don’t hate yourself, don’t bash yourself mentally and don’t feel that this has in anyway had any effect on your life, your goals, or your dreams… everything will be ok.

Much love…

The next and biggest step!!

As many of you know, my story is a little different to some of yours... I too experienced major tattoo regret in my initial stages only to then embrace, and actually love my tattoo... Today was the final exemplication of that love by extending on the work to encompass most of my arm. I want to say, I love my tattoo today more than ever. I am at peace with everything about it. Most importantly I want everyone to know that time, acceptance and appreciation can actually become not just a path to loving your tattoo, but to loving yourself... There are so many things we hate about ourselves that we can't change. Yet we so often neglect to simply change "that" we hate what we can't change... I've posted some pictures of today's work, and as my story ends here, I can only hope this is where some of your stories begin. Love.
Melbourne Dermatologist

Ive not started any treatment yet, and may not, but I did have a consultation with Anne from Dr Bekhors clinic in Box Hill today. Given my mental state and the problems I'm facing adjusting to my new tattoo, I want to commend Ann and the staff at Dr Bekhors clinic. everyone was o lovely and so assuring. Anne was a seasoned professional, very lovely, made me feel extremely safe, and never once used any scare tactics or pushiness to get me started with treatment. Her message was based on facts and she was very clear that "we are always here, whenever you need us, you just come in when you're ready"...

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