Yesterday I completed my first session of laser...
Yesterday I completed my first session of laser removal. In total, Im having three tattoos removed. Two of the tattoos being removed are on my arms, and the third, is on my back.
I must say, I'm a little disappointed after my first session. I know this is going to be a process. And I know that laser surgery isn't something that produces instant results (for most people). I suppose I thought, that maybe, I would have seen a bit more of the ink broken up than I am actually seeing.
About my tats: I HATE my two arm tattoos that I am having removed. I have hated them for as long as I have had them, which has been about 10 years. They were stupid, impulsive, and I should have started the removal process a long time ago. My entire wardrobe has conformed to covering my arms. I wear tank-tops with cardigans all summer... It's a bitch.
I have thought about alternatives to laser treatments. I've considered doing a cover-up on my right arm, maybe something floral. As for my left arm, if this doesn't work (laser surgery), I will resort to surgical skin grafting. I know that there would be a fairly significant scar as a result, but I don't care. And, as for my back, I'm not as worried about the removal process. My only other tattoos are on my back; they don't bother me.
I will post photos after each treatment. My next treatment isn't scheduled until August 15th. I'm thinking I shouldn't have to wait for so long, and I'm getting a second opinion about this. Any thoughts, advice, or constructive criticisms about the process are welcome and greatly appreciated. ~thanks.
Two weeks Prior to Second Treatment
In two weeks (July 17th) I will go in for my second treatment on my left arm. I will also be getting my first treatment on my right arm, and back. I'm not as excited this time around, as I was prior to having my first treatment. But I think it's because I was upset for various reasons after the first time.
After the first treatment, not only did I wish I had seen better results; but it left me with a knot in my stomach knowing how much I paid, and would be paying for each session to come. I paid about $500.00. Well, I did my homework, and went to another consultation... and as a result, I'm having all three worked on for less than $200.00 (same laser, same treatment type). What a difference in price. I'm still a bit pissed at how much I spent for the first treatment. It's upsetting to know how much I hate my tattoos, and how much money some people seek to make off others' mistakes, such as mine. I can only imagine how many other people get roped into paying in installments, or contracts, and pay SO much more money than necessary. I suppose I should be thankful I looked elsewhere and found better...
I'm adding a few photos, and hoping that I can start tracking some positive results in the near future. In spite of not being excited, I am optimistic. My tattoo on my right arm never scabbed, scared, and it never raises. I don't think the ink is super deep. I have no clue if all this makes a difference or not during the laser treatments, but it's everything that's wrong with my left arm (it's scared, it scabbed and bled after it was done, and it does raise in areas of red ink). So I'm hoping for some positive progress this time around. I'm just so tired of wanting to crawl out of my own skin every time I pass a mirror. It's been ten years...
Yesterday I had my second treatment on my left arm, first on my right and back. Like the first time, I went in feeling really excited and left feeling depressed. I'm not sure if anyone else has felt a significant mood change after their treatments? I instantly walked out of the office feeling less talkative, less energetic, less motivated, and all around less happy. I also left both times feeling agitated and annoyed. I ended up going home, curling into a ball with my back sitting up, and laying on my couch away from people, with my cats.
Aside from feeling bummed out, this treatment was also far more painful than the first. Maybe it was the fact that I was at a different clinic/shop for my second treatment? I did use lidocaine cream both times. And this time I was also needing squeezing a stress ball, squirming, saying a few choice words (I didn't say anything last time, just sat there), and had to stop mid-session altogether for a few minutes. After all was said and done, Im left wondering how I'm going to be able to tolerate the pain for the following treatments. Like I seriously do not want to experience that again. Physically and emotionally, I left there feeling like s**t.
After my first treatment I was also given Valium, so not to care as much afterwards for about two days. I will be sure to see my PCP next week to have some for next time. It really helped. I was able to go about my day, and didn't retreat home in hiding.
I haven't posted in awhile, and I have no idea what happened to my photos. I also wanted to quickly say that I don't know anyone else who is doing this, has gone through this, or is even considering it. So when it comes to having someone to relate to- this site is all I know, to not feel like I'm the only person dealing with this.
So here's where I'm at. I had my 5th session on one arm today, and my 3rd session on my other arm and my back. I feel like crap. My arms are swollen, red, stinging, and staring to develop baby blisters. My last session wasn't actually so bad. But this time seems to hurt so much more, like my second session. I leave the office saying, "I'm never coming back", as usual... But I keep on. My commitment to getting these damn things removed is far greater than the commitment I could have ever foreseen when I had them put on.
My PCP is really empathetic. She gives me a few Percocet to deal with the pain for a few days afterwards. I don't know how I would get through without them. My left arm is a band of flames, consisting of red, orange, and yellow ink. And for about three days post treatment, it swells about a third of the size that my arm naturally is. I look like I lift weights with only one arm. The red ink is fading well the orange is basically gone, the yellow is being stubborn as hell, and the black lines are breaking up, but very slowly; they will be there long after the color. I anticipate several more treatments. My other two tattoos (on my other arm and my back, the ones that have had three sessions) are coming along much better than the arm band. So that's good. Though my right arm is ridiculously red this time, and has me a bit freaked out at the moment.
On a positive note, I heal well. In spite of all the pain, swelling, scabbing, and itching thereafter - my skin looks great within 3-4 weeks and I'm not scarring. So that's obviously a really good thing. I also don't leave feeling too depressed anymore, I'm just not in a very good mood.
I will add some photos again tomorrow. It's been a long day for me- this whole process is a two day event for me. And I'm simply tired. As always, any thought, comments, feedback, and/or constructive criticisms are always appreciated.
Sessions 4 through 6
I had my 6th and 4th sessions on my arms yesterday. As always, the treatments hurt like hell. That said- I'm in a lot less pain this time around, compared to last. I didn't swell as much, even though I'm considerably more red. The tech did turn the laser up a bit. I'm hoping that when the redness disappears, my right arm will reveal considerably less ink from before. I guess I will keep taking photos and tracking my progress...
I just had another session. It went pretty well. I've learned not to drive myself, and to spend the rest of the day doing nothing- it helps. It least for me it does, knowing that I don't have any responsibility for the day because I simply feel like crap and both of my arms feel like they are on fire for about 24 hours afterwards.
Like my last session, I bruised a lot during this session. Not sure what the difference is. Maybe it's because the laser is slowly being turned up as the sessions progress?? I was also told that we used a different tip at the end of the laser today. That the tip of the laser we used focuses the light differently. In short, it condenses it, strengthening the light, so that it's more efficient in breaking up the ink, now that the tattoos have faded; and because the ink isn't as concentrated as it was during the first few sessions. This was something I'd never read about before... not sure if anyone else has had the same experience??
Anyways- I guess all went well. I'm still satisfied with my technician, where I'm going for my tattoo removal, and I feel I'm being charged a reasonable price. It's nice to see my own pics on this site and know that I'm coming along. This process feels SO slow. It's been well over a year now. I just can't wait until it's all over.
I found out there is a Picosure laser in my area. I'm thinking about trying it next. I'm kinda worried that it will just be a waste of money and I should stick with the standard... Ugh. This is just such a process. The photos on here were my first reminder in awhile that I really have had some fading.. My most recent session was a week ago. Hopefully, I will see some more lightening in the next few weeks.
So many treatments...
I've been doing this for so long, I don't remember what treatment numbers I'm on. And I'm starting to feel like not much is happening anymore. The laser is turned up pretty high and it really doesn't even hurt that much, compared to the way it used to in the past. I have a consultation to start using a different laser next week (treatment won't be until August). So, my next update will be after having used the PicoSure laser. I'm hoping for some better results. My arm band looks like crap, trashy. I'm starting to contemplate surgical excision or possibly a cover-up in the next year or so, as well; if the laser treatments will not remove the ink.
Starting a New Treatment Plan
Today I had a consultation for PicoSure (it's my third consultation this week). I found where I will be going and start next Wednesday with my first treatment. I'm really, really excited. I will be sure to post pics and share where I'm going after I get started!! I can't wait!! There were no PicoSure lasers in the Twin Cities when I first started this whole process, and I always felt like this was such a bummer. I'm so glad to be starting (more like finally finishing) this process and I will keep y'all updated :)
1st PicoSure treatment
So I've switched lasers. Today I had my first Picosure treatment in Hopkins, MN. I'm not too sure what to think. It doesn't hurt. It's not swollen. And it barely feels like I was treated with a laser. That said, if this gets rid of my tattoos in the next few sessions- then OMG that's awesome!! So we'll see. Appearantly there is an attachment for the Picosure laser that excels in getting out the reds, yellows, and oranges. The staff where I had the treatment completed said they just purchased this and will be trained on this within the week. And- My next treatment will be Sept 30th (when this can be used). I will take a few more pics until then to keep up on any progression and change with the ink. So far I'm not sure what to think...
2nd PicoSure Tx Today
I had my second PicoSure session today. I was THRILLED to see the ink responding immediately to the laser!! I've had 15 q-switch treatments prior to this - so 17 treatments total. I've felt like I hit a plateau after about 10 tx with the q-switch - and feeling incredibly disappointed that the tech just kept rescheduling me every six weeks and taking my payment... So I finally went elsewhere. And I'm so glad that I did. I've started going to Integrity Medi Spa in Hopkins, MN. They are the only clinic in the state of MN that has the attachment for the laser designed to pull out the reds, oranges, and yellows... I think I had mentioned it in my last post... Anyways - Today was my first treatment with it. I just took off the bandages a few minutes ago and I'm extremely bruised and developing blisters! There is going to be a period of healing that will for sure need to happen before my arms start to feel better. I took some pics during the treatment today and will post more tomorrow. I'm feeling pretty optimistic. I don't think I've felt this good in a while after a treatment!! Yea!!
New Tattoo Removal - 1st Tx w/PicoSure
I had my third PicoSure treatment today on my arms. I also started treatment on another tattoo on my back. It has been burning pretty badly all afternoon and evening. I feel like someone has been rubbing salt into a sunburn! Ouch. Attached are some pics of the tattoo with its first treatment and I'll update some more pics when I remove the bandages tomorrow. Also - I'm wondering what others do while they are healing? I feel like whenever I use aloe after a treatment I end up blistering badly, but if I don't, then I scab and itch badly. Any suggestions for self care while healing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
PicoSure treatment 4 & 2
We used a different attachment on the PicoSure laser yesterday. The attachment focuses the light, making it stronger to break up stubborn ink. For the first time ever, I saw frosting on my arm band (using the laser for black ink) and on my right shoulder. That was pretty cool. I forgot to take some pictures. But there are a few attached. I will make it a point to take some once my tattoos heal by next week. The progress will be more visible. And I haven't been very good about doing that. I'm still very satisfied with my decision to switch lasers. Will keep posting.
Hello everyone. I didn't report on my last treatment in February - because it didn't seem to have much of a fading effect (same place, same laser, different tech). This is my second treatment since last checking in, and today was SO painful. After all these treatments, and wow, I underestimated how much they can hurt. Usually, I slather on a bunch of lidocaine about two hours prior. Then I wrap those areas in gauze, so it soaks into my skin. I didn't do that this time and very much regret it. My tech ended up giving me lidocaine injections on my shoulder - but it wasn't the same. For whatever reason, it didn't help at all. As for the treatment itself, in spite of how much it hurt, no doubt, I'm going to see fading. I could tell immediately. The I'm excited to see how my arm and shoulder look when I remove the bandages. It's good to feel like, after so many sessions, there is still progress being made. I will post some pics tonight or tomorrow.
One thing I do want to say, after being at this for almost three years, is that I've found myself talking about all the different lasers, which ones are better or superior, and so on. And of coarse, have read a lot of other reviews about laser comparison as well. But I want to add, that it's not just the laser that removes the tattoo. It least this has been my experience. I mean obviously, the laser matters. But the technician removing the tattoo is just as important in this process. My tech now (Crystal) is on point. She tracks the lines well, she doesn't miss any of the ink, she's knowledgeable, and knows what settings to use - and she takes her time!! Just knowing she takes her time means a lot to me - she's just good at what she does. And I think I really realized after my last session how important it is to have a good tech, one who cares about your progress. Otherwise, I could be doing this every six to eight weeks and be very disappointed. When I was still using the q-switch laser after about 12+ sessions... I think then, my tech stopped being honest with me about the progress that could be made. Even though he was good with the laser, his financial interest overruled my best interest. He kept having me come in every six weeks and nothing was happening - I had yellow ink that hadn't faded a bit. And I even asked him what he thought about me switching lasers to help achieve my goals. He completely dismissed the idea - stating that the laser he was using is superior, and that it wouldn't make sense for me to switch to the PicoSure. His advice couldn't have been more wrong, because my yellow is finally almost gone. I guess all I'm saying is that I strongly recommend being mindful about the person who you allow to be the one, that actually removes your tattoo. It really does make a difference... trust your tech!! Their intentions can make all the difference in the removal of your tattoo. Sorry this was a long review. I'll add some pics real soon!
Photos of recent tx
Photos of recent tx - all PicoSure laser
Before and after recent tx
Just had my latest PicoSure treatment. Only my shoulder and left arm this time. The right arm is so faded. I don't want to risk the skin ghosting (which I've seen inside my arm band), so I've decided I'm happy with it. Maybe one more PicoSure pass in a few months (or possibly q-switch, maybe one of each, I should research that).
As for the other two - I think my shoulder will be completed before my left arm (which I've officially lost count as to how many treatments I've had on it). I have an appt with a PS who I trust, to evaluate my arm, and provide me with some realistic feedback, as to what my expectations should be about a laser fully removing this thing. If he doesn't think it's possible - we will discuss excision at that time. Otherwise, another treatment down, just as painful as the last, and I can't wait for this to one day be over. There is little I regret in life - but these tattoos I would give almost anything to have never gotten them. After 15 years of hating them, I can't believe it's now been 3 years dealing with trying to remove them... If only I knew then what I know now. I love and care for myself so much, in so many ways. I just wish I could get past the negativity and discouraged feelings I have towards the tattoos. Anyways - happy and healthy healing to all...