I started this entire process with having my piercings taken out. I had my monroe, lower lip, nose and dermal removed by a plastic surgeon. It was 8k and required anesthesia. I took out everything but my two basic ear piercings and belly button ring. Out came the hood, nipples, tongue, dermal, three facial piercings, septum and 4 from each ear. I don't miss any of them.
I began my tattoo removal process in February of 15' after finding a doctor in my area with premier lasers and facilities. I knew nothing about the process before hand and am so thankful I did my research. There are a multitude of lasers targeting different colors with different wave lengths. I knew from my research I wanted to find a doctor with the picosure laser. This seems to be the best laser on the market at the moment. Still not perfect thought. It has success with darker colors; blacks, blues and purples. I have a combination of black and color tattoos so I knew it might be a little more complicated. I contacted many doctors in my area (South Florida) and settled on Dr. Sean Simon in Miami. Not only did he have the picosure laser but he has a newer laser that targets the reds, greens and yellow wavelength. I am super satisfied with the Doctor I chose. Great facilities, top staff and top technology. I wanted to maximize removal and minimize pain. I paid around 8,500.00 to begin the removal process. It was priced because I have multiple tattoos and required multiple sessions.
First Session: Med size tattoo on bicep (right arm), two small finger tattoos (right hand)
Numbing: Lidocaine (200$ per injected tattoo) injection on bicep and lidocaine numbing cream on fingers
Actual Removal: The tech Nikki, who is divine, numbed my fingers and Dr. Simon injected my arm. We began with fingers. Now let me preface this by saying I have sat for HOURS getting tattoos, have had nearly every body part pierced, broke my back in 5 places, broken ribs etc... I know pain) and I experienced SHOCKING pain from the laser on my finger tattoos that were numbed with lidocaine cream. Imagine someone holding an iron set on the hottest degree on your skin and not taking it off. Let's just say I screamed some expletives. The finger tattoos are small so it was over quickly. The Dr. then moved to my inner, numbed through injections, bicep tattoo. I felt a few "reminders" as I call the around the outer edges that were not 100% numbed but barely any pain there. Thank god! I didn't watch any of the process because I was wearing metal goggles but I could hear, feel and SMELL it. Smelling your singed skin ain't so great and the SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP of the laser is easy to get used to. I think the initial pain got my heart rate up and I felt quite poorly after the session. I was dizzy, my heart was racing, and I waited to get back in my car to drive home. I had to remember that although my skin was being numbed, my body was reacting to the trauma rightly, and people, its trauma to the skin.
Healing: The Dr. explained to me that there is no set speed, if you will, of wavelength for tattoo removal. They want to use a low wavelength as possible to remove the tattoo and not damage the skin. Theres a real art to finding the middle ground. Too much and the skin is damaged, too little and the removed ink is insufficient. My first session was too low, they went for a low length to see how my skin responded to the laser to begin to get a baseline of what would remove the color without damaging my skin.
Aftercare: Super similar to getting a tattoo. A&D or eucerine for like 2-3 days. washing with antibacterial soap and wrapping. Follow that with recommended lotion and take vitamins! It will peel, (don't pick!) and it will itch. OH BOY will it itch. Do NOT scratch it, i ended up hitting the area when it was unbearable. if the tattoo will be exposed to the sun, cover it up or apply heavy duty SPF if its healed enough.
Second removal: Enormous thigh piece on right side
Numbing: 200$ injection of Lidocaine (WORTH EVERY PENNY)
Process: This was another full pico laser treatment and as I mentioned with m first removal, the Dr was trying to find my perfect tattoo removal middle ground. Too light the first time, TOO HARD THIS TIME. He fully numbed the tattoo and got to work. If anyone is bothered by needles the numbing isn't so fun either. It hurts too. I asked the tech to apply numbing cream before the Dr. came near me with the needles. Lead goggles on, SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP.
After: When I got home it was already starting to bubble and blister. It got BAD. Blisters covering it completely. I looked like I had a zombie leg. I couldn't sit, dress or sleep normally. I ended up sterilizing a needle and lancing the entire thing to release the liquid and pressure with (hopefully) minimal damage to the skin underneath. My little dogs hated me because I'd scream if they jumped on my lap because the skin is tender, super sensitive. It took about two weeks to be pretty much healed enough to wear jeans but about 6 weeks until my skin felt normal again, not scaly.
Third Removal: Large Hip piece left side
Numbing: 200$ lidocaine injections
Process: Same as before, numbed, goggles, SNAPs, wrapped and sent home.
Healing: The Dr. did a great job on this one, he had found a really good wavelength from the Picosure that nailed the ink but not my skin too much. This one healed really well and really fast, no blisters!!! After the previous experience I was soooooo happy to not have to lance a fully blister covered thigh. I discovered the use of **Glad Press and Seal** for wrapping. As long as you have adequate antibacterial cream or gel applied, the glad press and seal presses and seals to the dry skin around the tattoo and stays with out tape, which means no residue. I was able to protect my sheets at night and my skin. Good find!
Fourth Removal: Oh boy, yesterday Monday April 27th
Right Med Bicep, Fingers, Right Huge Thigh piece
Numbing: Lidocaine injected all tattoos for $400* 2x more expensive because doing large amounts of removal. The injections were terribly painful. I had to clench my hands into fists and my face was twisted in pain. It was unpleasant.
Removal: This was the second round for these tattoos. The doctor hit them with the Picosure laser as well as the newest laser which targets the reds, greens and yellows. I'll update when I remember the name of the laser. The experience wasn't too bad, the numbing was the worst part of this session. I felt a bit destroyed afterwards. It was a lot, a lot of injections, a lot of lidocaine, a lot of skin lasered, so many SNAPS! The icing on the cake for this appointment was the nurse poking her hand with one of the needles used to inject me so I had to have three vials of blood drawn. I am a pretty tiny human so after all that I called it a day, made the hour drive home with every intention of crashing. Not so!
Healing: This ones going to be a doozy. Forget about resting and relaxing. I ate some advil, peeled back the plastic to look at my thigh. Covered in blisters after only a few hours. I couldn't even sit still for the rest of the day. It hurt too much, I had to keep kicking and moving and got some ice, didn't help. The pain from my thigh to arm to fingers I described to my family as "Imagine being a porcelain figure spidered in entirety with cracks and then imagine someone holding a nail and hammer to you. I felt so tense, tightly wound and in pain I thought I was going to explode. NOT FUN.
I'll keep updating as my process continues. Feel free to ask me anything or share your experiences!
Left out: Dr Simon is also using the focus laser to treat my piercing spots to help minimize the scaring and I am using biocorneum on them 2x daily
edit: important to understand how tattoo removal works. Its not like a paint scraper. You do not simply laser the area and if falls off. The laser breaks up the ink and you, over the course of its healing, excrete the ink. Gross! I didn't know that when I began the process and had to explain to expectant/disappointed friends and family that it was a long process and it takes a few weeks to see the real effects of a single session.