Very Large Chest Tattoo Mess- 30yr Old Female, Calgary Ab Canada

Hey everyone- I'm new to this site. I'll start...

Hey everyone- I'm new to this site. I'll start with my difficult journey this far. I was young blah blah blah and got a big chest piece done that I ended up hating immediately after getting it. I lived with it for 3 years before deciding I would attempt to have it covered. I did my research and found a reputable artist who specializes in cover ups. We came up with a plan I felt good about, and 2 weeks before my first appt I found out I was expecting my daughter, so it got postponed of course.
Fast forward to June 2015, and I went for my first cover up session. Went well and I felt really good about the direction the tattoo was going. Second cover up session July 2015, it all went to shit. I hate it, it's bigger-darker- and just a huge mess. I'm traumatized, my self esteem is in the toilet.. I'm wearing sweaters and scarves in the hot summer heat to hide it. I cry every time I look in the mirror.
I've decided to start the long painful ugly process of laser removal and I'm going to try and remain as positive as possible through this journey- which is likely to take me AT LEAST two years.
I had a consult with a reputable clinic here in Calgary in August 1st. They were professional, informative and answered all my questions. They use a q switch laser, they do not have the picosure. They do have good prices and a good payment plan- as well as total removal garuntee package. they quoted me 14 sessions- and of its not gone by the 14 sessions, they continue sessions until it's gone for free. So you buy all 14 sessions up front with a 25% discount for buying the package , which will end up saving me about $3500 off the total price. Without the package each session would cost $575. They also offer numbing cream, but it costs a whopping $65 a session if you want it. And from what I hear, it doesn't make that much of a difference.
Anyways, I booked my first treatment for October (I was advised at my consult that I need to wait 12 weeks due to how fresh the ink is, it needs to fully heal before starting treatments)
I have one more consult at a dermatologist office, tomorrow (August 5th) they have 4 lasers in their office including the picosure as opposed to only one laser. I would imagine, that it will be quite a bit more expensive for that reason- but I like the idea of going to a dr, for the simple fact that it's more likely they will do lidocaine injections. But we will see. I'll post some pictures so you can see what kind of terrible mess I have so far. I'll do my best to follow this through and document to the very end. I've had a really hard time finding any success stories fully removing a tattoo of my size. All the stories I've seen are still in progress (so if you happen to se or have one please let me know, I need encouragement)

Oops

Forgot to mention in my first post- that i plan to remove everything except for the bird, and the word "love". Those will be staying. Hopefully.

2nd consult done

I'm feeling a little discouraged and overwhelmed. Had another consult today, at the institute for skin advancement, here in Calgary. This is a dermatologist office that specializes in cosmetic and laser surgery.
I was very pleased with how professional and knowledgable they were. I feel like they were way more straight and realistic with me. The woman who did my consultation, frankly told me that she did not believe my tattoo could be fully removed. She talked me through it in detail as to why, and then presented me with some options. She's confident that she can fully remove parts of it, and really fade other parts, so I can continued cover up the way I had originally wanted. She also qouted me a smoking good deal of $300/session to do that, as opposed to treating the entire tattoo for a whopping $900/session with no garuntee that it will ever be fully removed.
I feel like that is the best option for me, I just need to take some time to fully analyze it now, and figure out what I hate about it- what I like about it, and work with a good artist to complete the cover up and make it into something I will love and be proud to show. I welcome your thoughts and comments and ideas please! As I shared in my earlier post, I was happy with the direction the cover up was going after the first session, I will post a picture of what that looked like. Hopefully the removal process can get me back to that point. Let me know what you guys think

First treatment booked

So I have decided to move forward at the institute for skin advancement, my first treatment is booked for sept 21. The plan is to keep the roses and the bird and the word love, and remove everything surrounding. I feel pretty confident that this plan will give me the best outcome at the end, to be able to sort of start fresh with the cover up and take it in a direction I will not just be happy with, but love. i need to do my best to remain positive, and remind myself that it's only a short time in the grand scheme. This has given me some bad anxiety and depression and major self esteem issues. Going to start doing some yoga and meditation every night to try and keep me balanced through this process.

Appt rescheduled - ugh

So my first tx was scheduled for yesterday, however about 3 hours before my appt the clinic called me to apologize that my appt needs to be rebooked due to unplanned maintenance on the machine. Le sigh. So the earliest they could rebook me for is October 5th. So sadly I have no update on my treatment yet.
Mentally though, I'm doing better- I have come to more of an acceptance stage, and I'm not feeling so depressed and sad when I look in the mirror. I'm thankful for our early Canadian fall weather and have been able to start comfortably wearing sweaters and scarves that cover what I'm insecure about.
Will be back again to update in 2 weeks after my first treatment!
Xo

First tx done

Finally.

I don't have much to say as I'm in a lot of pain and exhausted. I knew it would be painful, I wasn't expecting to be completely drained of all life afterwards though.
Anyways, they hit me hard/ fast and furious. I got numbing , I think it helped a bit. I took an Ativan before ... I don't think it helped.
The laser portion took about 30 min. After they did some vinegar soaked gauze a few time. I had weeping and lot of pinpoint bleeding. They then cleaned me up and out me under this healing light thing. The dr came in and wrote me a prescription for a topical antibiotic, he just wanted to prevent infection because of how angry my skin is. He also wrote me a prescription for an oral steroid that's supposed to help lessen inflammation and blistering.
Though I'm expecting mega blistering. Can't post pics today, too miserable and tired. Will update more tomorrow.

24 hours after 1st tx (pics)

My skin is very angry. Very red and sore and lots of little blisters . Overall though, the pain is no worse now then a fresh tattoo. I have topical antibiotic cream (fucidin) that I'm putting on twice a day. I went back to the clinic today to go under the healing light again, and the staff said they are very impressed with how well I'm healing in just one day . I can see in some spots where ink is already breaking up- so I'm feeling very optimistic . Will post more pictures after I'm healed.

Quick healing update

Just a quick update on my healing- I'm 5 days post tx, all my blisters were gone by day 3. I don't have anymore pain , it's maybe a bit tender still in some spots. It's started drying up and is getting itchy. I'm still using the antibiotic ointment , but in the next day or so will switch to just a normal cream to keep it hydrated- as I don't think I'm at risk for infection any longer.
Now that the swelling and redness and blisters have subsided I can see definite areas where the ink has started to break up and even dissapear in some small spots.
I'm feeling optimistic about the process now. I was doubtful before I started . That's all for now, I'll post pictures once I've healed in a few weeks.

Progress post- 8 weeks post tx #1

Hey everyone, I go for tx #2 on Monday dec 21, so here are my progress pics. There is a considerable amount of fading and breakup of lines in some spots and almost none in others. But I see progress and that's kept me positive . Plus it's winter so I just wear scarves and sweaters and try not to think about it!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Day before anxiety

Holy smokes , I have bad anxiety thinking about my session tomorrow. I think it's way worse now that o know how painful and intense it is. Do you guys have any rituals or suggestions that help relieve your anxiety prior to your session you can share with me?
Thanks!

Appt rescheduled

Was supposed to have laser tx #2 today, but woke up feeling unwell and had to reschedule, what a drag :( my appt is booked for January 8th. Will update then! Have a great Christmas/holiday everyone!

Tx number 2 done

Had my second session done today. I was much more mentally prepared for the pain this time. This time we left the numbing cream on for an hour vs 30min. This session, went significantly better , going in knowing what to expect made a big difference. The pain is still absolutely brutal, but tolerable. Last time it seemed like my body went into shock, I was cold and shaking and I could t think straight let alone drive. This time I didn't experience those symptoms at all, and I was able to drive myself home.
They hit me hard and fast again, and I'm expecting a lot of blistering. i don't think I'll post pics of that gruesome part again, we all know what blisters look like lol I'll update again once I'm mostly healed to show how the fading is going.
And happy new year everyone!

2 weeks post tx 2

Just a quick update, I've noticed some good fading and more lines breaking up already , looks like my skin responds fairly well to this process. Personal observation, the spots that blister the most, show the most fading. Don't know if that's true for everyone, but it seems to be for me.

Tx #3 done

Had appt #3 with the picosure done on Monday (2 days ago). They used a smaller spot size this time , which means higher intensity. It was a very painful session, I mean - it never tickles, but I could definitely feel the higher intensity. I had the numbing cream on for a full hour before the session, and I do strongly believe that it makes a big difference. Over all it went as well as can be expected. My healing is really challenging this time, I have MEGA blistering this time, making any kind of movement really quite painful. However I try to be positive, the more the blistering the more ink that seems to dissapear, so - silver linings. It looks to me like I can already see more ink dissapearing and breaking up. The nurse who does my treatments even said she is very impressed with my progress and how well I respond to the treatments. So that is encouraging. I'm going to post a few pics just so you guys can see how brutal my blisters are this time.
For healing I'm using a prescription antibiotic ointment called "fucidin", and once I'm past the open blister stage I will switch to aquafor or however it's spelled. I will post pictures in a couple weeks once I'm healed to show fading progress.

Forgot to mention

In January I had a consultation with a tattoo artist about starting the cover up process for the parts I'm not having lasered. He was amazing, so helpful and understanding. He had excellent insight and knowledge of both cover ups and tattoo removal/fading. I did a lot of research on him before we met, he has an excellent reputation and his artwork really speaks for itself. He has won an award recently for his cover up work and he works out of a well known respected shop. I'm excited about the plan we came up with for my chest, and will get started after 1 or 2 more laser sessions, depending on how well my fading goes. He will also be covering a piece on my arm I'm unhappy with. Anyways, I ramble. If you're in Calgary and looking for a good artist, his name is Chris Moniz and he works at Asteroid M Tattoo.

Off topic- arm tattoo

I'm having a piece on my arm covered and someone had requested see pictures, so here is my unsightly arm tattoo that i begin covering next month. Can't wait , sorry about the awkward angles, i did my best lol

Off topic - arm cover update

I had some work done on my arm cover up, so here are some pictures of that progress. Probably two more sessions or so before its done- but I'm super happy with it so far

Fading progress 8 weeks post tx 3

I have session 4 today, so before I go in here is my fading progress from my last session . Will update again later today after my tx

Tx 4 done

I didn't blister as bad as I did last time. This time hurt WAY more than usual- apparently when you're close to menstruating it hurts more , this is what the nurse told me- have any of you ladies experienced that? True in my case I guess. It was brutal. I'm not going to post pictures until I'm healed a bit to show progress, we all know that this red blustery part looks like. My next spot is booked for June 20, then I'm going to take a break from laser until the fall.

SO BUMMED OUT

so I got a phone call from my clinic yesterday, the two nurses that do my laser treatments have both left that office for good. Of course they couldn't tell me why. I'm so sad, they were amazing and understanding. My piece is so complicated and I'm so anxious about starting fresh with people who don't know me . Ugh
I've decided to cancel my June appt and take the summer off from laser, I'll resume going In the fall. Maybe this time off will be good and full of fading. I will continue to update you guys about my fading, as well as keep you posted with my cover up appts.

Arm cover update

Had another session on my ongoing arm coverup , the heart is complete now, but the cover up is not complete yet- as you can still see parts of my old tattoo. Eventually this will be a half sleeve .

Cover-up side by side comparison

So here is a close up side by side comparison to show how effective the new tattoo is at covering the old tattoo. You can see faint lines in some spots , and that's absolutely normal in any cover up.

6 week post tx 4

I just got home from 7 days in Mexico , and I think the sun helped my fading progress a little. I've decided not to have anymore treatments until the fall, but I'll continue posting fading pics periodically. Emotionally this is the hardest time for me. My chest still looks a giant mess, even though I know I've come far- it's still soemthing I don't feel comfortable showing, and the weather is now very hot and it's hard to cover up comfortably. It makes me want to hide inside and miss out on fun outside activities I would normally really enjoy. Preparing myself for an emotional roller coaster summer.

Progress side by side comparison

Here is a comparison , top is before any treatments, bottom is 6 weeks post treatment 4.

Fading update

As predicted it's been a really emotional summer. Warning: this post is going to be full of self pity, stop now if you can't take it.
Financially my husband and I are struggling right now , he's started a new business (for which I am so beyond proud of him) and it's doing well, but as with any new business it's taken everything we have and is still picking up steam. I need to be grateful that it's enough to cover our mortgage and bills, essentials etc. but our savings is non existent and it doesn't look like we will be saving anything for awhile. We have no extra.
Which of course, means no progress on my laser or cover up. I can't argue that financially and logically speaking it isn't a priority over our necessities to live day to day. I know this realistically . But I struggle with it emotionally . It has put me into a serious depression over my tattoo and trying to cope with the fact that this is just how I look now. I had a dream last night that I doused my chest in lighter fluid and set it on fire to get rid of it, because I'd rather be scarred horrifically than look like this. And I woke up crying because it's how I actually feel. (Not that I would do that/ to be very clear- I would not harm myself ever) .
I hate feeling sorry for myself and I preach body positivity a lot. But this isn't something I can change or control and I have to see it and think about it everyday and effects every part of my life and it's killing me. It's destroying my soul . I've never hated looking at myself in my whole life, and I can't stand my reflection , I hate it. I wish I could literally just take my skin off and throw it out and start over. This isn't my skin, this is not who I am.
I just really needed to vent these feelings. I don't know anyone who can relate to what I'm going through this is the only forum I feel comfortable saying this.
Anyways, it feels better just getting it out. I'm going to post some pics of my fading over these past few months. My last tx was in April of 2016, so I am now 4 months post tx #4.
West side laser and light

Consult went very well. Professional, informative and answered all my questions. Fair price for treatments with good payment options. Though the numbing cream if you choose to use it , is grossly over priced. UPDATE: 2nd consult was at institute for skin advancement, *5 star rating in all categories- honest, knowledgeable and very professional. Fair pricing and I felt they have more knowledge of tattoo removal then the last clinic I consulted with. They were also more realistic and straight forward about the results i could expect/achieve. I will be moving forward at this clinic. UPDATE: Institute for skin advancement has been absolutely amazing. I can't say enough good things about the staff. They have made a really really hard time in my life slightly less horrible by being so professional and kind and understanding. HIGHLY reccomend.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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