I got a black tattoo on my inner forearm when I...
17 Jul 2016
9 months post
I got a black tattoo on my inner forearm when I was in my 20s and after years of deliberation I decided to remove it as a 38th birthday present to myself. I always thought that getting rid of a tattoo would be almost as quick and as expensive as having it done... I was wrong. I have had five picosure sessions so far (8 weeks apart) and I am happy with the results, although it's taking much longer than I thought. I have been told I'll need at least another 3 treatments i.e. 8 in total. I want to share my experience to help others make an informed decision.
First treatment: painful, minimal blistering, redness and swelling for about 48 hours. Very itchy after one week (waking up during the night because of it - awful). Minimal fading if any.
Second treatment: as painful as the first one with similar side effects but after about 3 weeks I could see some fading in some parts of the tattoo. I made sure I moisturised the area properly and this meant the itching was much less.
Third treatment: this is where it all changed... It was so much more painful, almost unbereable. I got huge blisters after a few hours as well as swelling and redness. I considered going to A&E, but then I called the clinic and they said it was OK because they used higher settings this time. The blisters took about a week to heal. Tattoo began fading more and more, especially in the two weeks before the next treatment.
Fourth treatment: as painful as the third one and blisters were even larger. Because of the size they took slightly longer to heal but I was left with no scarring. Again fading has been significant although I still have a long way to go - there appears to be more ink in some parts of the tattoo than others which is odd.
I had my fifth treatment yesterday. The beautician I was with has left the clinic so I had this treatment with someone new. She spent much longer cooling the area before and during the treatment than the previous person and as a result it wasn't anywhere near as painful. I think this may also be because there was significantly less ink this time.
I will update my review with my progress.
Can't see any difference after 5th treatment - disappointed :(
20 Aug 2016
10 months post
I am very disappointed, don't think 5th treatment did anything to my tattoo. Wondering whether this is normal and it fades less after having had a few treatments?
11 Sep 2016
11 months post
I had my 6th session yesterday. It was much less painful than normal, hopefully that's because there's not much ink left. So maybe there was more fading after session 5 even though I could not see it (although it did look a little paler in the last few days). There's not much swelling and redness is more localised ie only around the letters. I only have small blisters where it looks like more ink was used. My next treatment will be in 10 weeks, rather than eight as usual. I was told that at this stage it's best to give the body more time between treatments to get rid of the ink. This sounds good to me, hopefully I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel :)
8 weeks after session 6 - quite pleased :)
Just wanted to post an update 8 weeks after the 6th treatment. I think there's been some significant fading and hopefully this will continue until session 7 in two weeks. I came across an old photo showing my tattoo, I can't believe how dark and thick it used to be!
Another picture 8 weeks after session #6
This is taken in daylight and a big bigger for some context.
Session #7 - no blistering thanks to air cooler
I had my 7th session two days ago. It was quite painful as they used a higher setting. However, I have no blisters or swelling, it's just very red but only where the ink is. I think this is because I was advised to cool down my arm with the air cooler after the laser which I did for a couple of minutes. I was never offered this option before (I normally used the air cooler before the laser only) and it makes a huge difference so I'd recommend asking for it. I'll post pics once it's healed, hopefully there will be some more fading.
3 weeks after session #7
Healing nicely and I think I there's already some fading after this treatment. I hope I can see more progress in a month's time before my next session at the end of Jan. Will post more pictures then. All these pictures are taken in different light conditions, I think it looks paler in natural light and darker in artificial light
One more picture in daylight
I got confused and posted wrong pic, not allowed to edit so here's one in natural light (it was cloudy today so not great, but still)
9 weeks after #7
I like to think there's been some more fading in the last few weeks. Having treatment #8 next week, looking forward to it.
Had treatment #8 this morning
It was as painful as last time with the same reaction - just redness and no blisters so far thanks to the air cooler. I'm still very red but if I stretch the skin there are bits where it looks like there's no ink left. I was told I will probably need another two treatments, which made my day :) Will post pics in a few weeks when it's healed.
3 weeks after treatment #8 - going but not quite gone
A couple of pictures 3 weeks after #8. I think it looks paler in the pictures than in real life. It looks kind of pixelated, it's not fading uniformly, it's weird - has anyone had the same experience? A few bits look very white - not sure if it's hypopigmentation or because I am not used to seeing my own skin colour where the tattoo is/used to be, hopefully it's the latter - as I said it's all looking a bit weird. I feel like I'm 'nearly there' but not quite,it's fading but not quite going... This is taking so long, much longer than I thought when I first started treatment. But I'm so glad I started, if I had known this it may have put me off. I hope it will disappear completely after two more sessions ie by the summer. Will post more pics just before treatment 9 early in April, hopefully it will have faded more by then.
9 weeks after #8
Here are a couple of pictures before I go for my 9th session next week. it has definitely faded more but it's still very visible - because it's so thick it will be visible until the last of the ink has gone. I am not sure that I will get rid of it in two more sessions. Looking forward to next week.
3 weeks after treatment 9
It healed much more quickly than before - I stopped covering it after 3-4 days. The best thing about the treatment itself was that the beautician had to take off her goggles a few times to check what she was doing because the tattoo is too pale to see properly! Next treatment will be mid-June. Hoping to see more fading by then.
9 weeks after #9 - more fading
Going for 10th session next week. More and more white patches are appearing. The tattoo is no longer visible underneath a loose knit top. Fading is uneven but definitely happening. The attached photos were taken in natural light.
3 weeks after #10
A couple of pictures after treatment 10. Same as always - more fading but not quite there yet. As advised by the beautician I'm taking a summer break and will go back in October, hopefully it will continue to fade.
11 weeks after #10 - more fading
Just a few pictures to document progress. I have been on holiday and exposed the tattoo to sunlight (although I didn't tan - always used SPF50). I'm slightly concerned the skin is a little bit raised in some places and wondering whether this will be visible once all the ink is gone. Other than that, slow progress but progress nevertheless. I didn't feel too self-conscious about the tattoo on holiday which was a great feeling.