Regretting Cover-up Tattoo. Treatment with Picoway laser - Oslo, Norway

Some years ago I got a tattoo on my lower leg in...

Some years ago I got a tattoo on my lower leg in memory of my grandfather after his death (a knife blade - he was a knife smith and he also taught me to make knives.) but it did not turn out very well. Since then I`ve tried to fix it many times (including getting another tattoo of a knife blade over the old one as suggested by a tattoo-artist. Stupid I know, but I was really desperate. Totally regretting it now) until last fall I decided to get a cover-up. By then I was pretty desperate and just wanted a nice tattoo and be able to use skirts and shorts. I asked the tattoo-artist what kind of motive would work best, but he said I could choose whatever I wanted and he would make it work. So I did. I use a picture of a beatiful watercolor tattoo as an example, saying I wanted something like that. He said it would be very easy to do it. Turns out we had different expectations and I`m not pleased with the end result.

I`m now too ashamed of the tattoo to use shorts or skirts. I feel everybody is looking at it and judging me because of it. Through the last 4-5 years and my many attempts to fix it, there have been so many emotions attached to it. It began as a way to remember my grandfather and now I just feel I`ve destroyed the skin on my leg forever. I`ve been so depressed and shed many tears over this. It`s almost constantly on my mind and is definitely affecting my daily life. My family must be sick hearing about it by know. Sometimes I just want to trow up thinking about it.

I just don`t know what to do. Should I try and get it faded with a laser and have the cover-up redone by someone else? I know it will probably mean several years of summers in long jeans, a lot of pain and money, but I feel like I`m at the bottom of a deep, black pit right now. I`m also scared that my many attempts to fix it have made it more difficult to remove it now. There`s many layers of ink there by now. But the thought of having that thing on by leg for the rest of my life just makes me depressed and sick. I`m also scared of scarring, but right now I`d rather have a big scar there than the tattoo. What should I do? Is it possible to remove it or fade it (or parts of it) at all?

Booked consultations

I have now booked an appointment for consultations with two clinics just to hear what they have to say. One which uses the Medlight C6 and one who uses Picosure. I`ve learnt my lesson and are examining all possibilities before making a choice! The one who uses Picosure is the only one in my country and is only a year or so old. As far as I`ve been able to find out the people who have tried it at the clinic all have ended up with over twice the number of treatments they were told they would need when they started. The clinic that uses the Medlight have a max price based on size, colors, difficulty, etc. You pay per treatment, but if the number of treatments exceeds the max price, you get the rest of the treatments for free. Which is a comfort economy wise. I have also heard nothing but good things about them when it comes to removing tattoos. And then there is the whole red ink thing with Picosure. The Picosure clinic has something similar to the max price on the other clinic, only they offer free treatments for 6 months after reaching the max price (which would probably only mean 1-2 free treatments since you have to have a rest period between each session?). Anyway, I`ll be talking to both of them and seeing what they have to say.

I hope to be able to remove or at least fade a lot of the darkest, densest middle part (the one of the cover-up) of my tattoo and have it redone (though I really, really don`t want to step foot inside another tattoo-studio again... too many bad feelings). The upper an lower part are okay and something I can live with.

Think I`m going for Picoway....

During the last month I`ve been to three consultations at different laser clinics in Oslo. All of the clinics had either a doctor or a nurse operating the laser. And all of them seemed very professional and friendly and answered all of my questions.

The first one I went to was the Oslo Kosmetiske Lasersenter that uses a Medlight laser. One of the things I liked best about this place was that the woman I spoke with said she simply could`t give me an estimate on how many treatments I would need because it varied so much from tattoo to tattoo. It`s nice that they are honest and don`t give you false expectations. All in all it seemed like they had long experience with removing/fading tattoos. The price for the first session was 246 dollars (2000 kr) and then 123 dollars (1000 kr) for each session after that, which is affordable. I could definitively go back there. They did not do a testpatch.

I also had a consultation at the Eraze clinic who have a Picosure laser last Friday (11. september). They are getting the booster for red ink this month. I think the people working there are all nurses. They did a small testpatch and I got a nice, big blister afterwards, but I was told that was normal. The clinic even called me a few days later to hear how the testpatch went! That`s good service :) They took the testpatch on an area in witch there was both red, black, yellow and blue ink. Since they didn`t have the booster yet there was no reaction on the red ink. I got frosting on both the black and blue ink. I`m not sure if I can see any fading on the black ink yet, but I`ll have to wait and see. The blue on the other hand, definitely had a reaction! The blue is a lot more faded. Right now it looks like a horrible bruise though! :P The price for Picosure was around 300 dollars a session (2500 kr) for a tattoo of my size. The price is a bit high, but it would be worth it for good results. However, from reading other reviews here, I have gotten the impression that due to the wavelength it operates on (755), Picosure isn`t really the best for dense, black tattoos.

The third clinic I visited, Remove, uses the new Picoway laser. I visited them yesterday (16. september). They opened a couple of months ago, so they are quite new. I didn`t even know about them until a tattoo artist I was discussing my future cover-up with told me about them. The man I meet with was a doctor (as is the others working there I think, which is comforting to know). He was very nice and professional. He also knew about knew about the realself-site (which none of the other clinics were aware of). The Picoway operates at two diffenternt wavelenght, both 532 for red, orange, yellow and 1064 for black and other colours. They did a small testpatch and I think I can see fading on both the red and black ink (they did not test any blue ink), but I don`t know if that`s just wishful thinking on my part. Is it possible to see fading shortly after a treatment or do you have to wait a few weeks? So far no blisters. The price was quiet high though. For a tattoo of my size it would be about 430 dollars per sessions (3500 kr). However, the had a special offer of 40% off of all treatments paid in september. Which means the price per session will be around 260 dollars instead (2100 kr)! The doctor thought I would need about five sessions to fade it enough for a cover-up and gave me an offer of five sessions at 40% off. Should I need less than that I get a refund for the unused sessions.

I`ve decided I`m going to go for the Picoway at Remove. Yes it is more expensive that the Medlight, but it is said to be the best laser on the market and are suppose to be less harsh on the skin. I know I won`t be able to pay full price for it, so if I want to try it it will have to be now. Hopefully I will only need five sessions.

I`ll post some pictures once the testpatches are healed.


Here's the pictures of the test-patches from the picosure and picoway laser. Both produced a very light fading of the black (but its a bit difficult to see on the pictures). Both lasers where used on the lowest settings. This is three to four weeks after.

The picosure did not react to the red at all, but this was without the booster. The blue on the other hand! Its almost gone after just one treatment! If you have a blue tattoo then picosure is definetly the way to go!

The picoway reacted better to the red and gave a slight fading of the black. I did not test it on the blue ink.

1st treatment with Picoway

It`s been about four weeks since I had my first treatment with the Picoway laser. I had my first session the 16th of October. The doctor who did the treatment was very friendly and helpful. He answered all of my questions, even the dumb ones :) The treatment itself took about 20 minutes. I was a bit nervous at first and was thinking about putting on some numbing cream beforehand, but decided against it, figuring i should at least try one time without first. It turns out I didn`t need it at all. Yes, it did hurt at the very beginning and when the laser went over the part of my tattoo that's on my foot, but other than that, it was actually painless! The machine blowing cold air helped a lot I think.

I have some black ink that's covered by red ink. The doctor did not treat the black ink under the red with the wavelength for black, but just went over it with the red wavelength. He wanted to see how my skin reacted to the laser first and if all went well, he would go over that area twice the next time. Once with the laser set to the wavelength for red and once with the laser set to the wavelength for black.

So the treatment itself was not very painful. But as soon as I left the clinic my leg got really hot and I got this weird tingling/biting feeling on the lasered area. Before I left the clinic they were kind enough to send with me an ice pack. So I walked down to the train station to wait for my train, found a bench and put up my leg with the ice pack. When I got home my leg was somewhat swollen. The swelling stayed for about four days. It probably didn`t help that I was up and about on my feet the rest of the weekend visiting my little nieces!

The first few days my leg was a bit sore to touch and I got lots of tiny, little blisters an a couple of bigger ones. I covered my leg with a bandage, but all the blisters popped within about a week anyway.

So the treatment and the first week all went fine. No problems. The doctor even called to hear how it had gone and if there were any problems. But by the end of the first week... Oh boy. The itch! The damn, triple damned itch! It drove me crazy! There were several night where I lay awake most of the night because of that horrible itch. I tried to put on an itching numbing cream, but it only worked somewhat. There were a few days when it was unbearable to have any fabric in contact with my leg at all. So when I had to go to work I wore a bandage and tight jeans so that there would be no fabric brushing against my leg and triggering that horrible itching. I found that that way I could gently rub my leg in circles and that helped to relive the itch somewhat.

If its`s one thing I could do without its that terrible itch. I`d rather take ten laser sessions in a row than go through that itching again. But unfortunately, if I want to do something about this damn cover-up, I don`t have a choice. I can only hope it will not be so bad the next time. So it anyone has any advise as to how to deal with the itching it would be greatly appreciated! :)

I can already after one treatment see that the Picoway is working for me! Some of the thin lines has started breaking up and the red is a bit more faded. I had hoped to see more fading in the black areas, but I guess the ink is simply so dense that its going to take a while.

My next session is on the 27th of November. Then it`ll have been six weeks since my first session.

Won`t go for another cover-up

Well, here`s to grit my teeth and preparing for the star of a looong journey. I had originally though to fade my tattoo enough for a new (and proper) cover-up, but I`ve realized that I don`t dare take that risk. I`d rather have 3-40 laser sessions and covering whats left with make-up or clothes until some new revolutionary laser is on the market. I just don`t want to risk having another tattoo that I hate. I just can`t.

2nd treatment with Picoway

Just a quick update. I had my seconed treatment with Picoway today. For some reason it hurt a lot more this time. I'm posting a pic of how the tattoo looks 12 hours after the treatment in all it's bloody glory. It probably looks worse than it is right now :P It seems like there is more pinpoint bleeding from the blue ink than the other ink. I am to keep the plastic on until tomorrow. The white netting under, is a kind of nett infused with vaseline.

After 2nd treatment with Picoway

It's now been about sixs weeks since my 2nd treatment with Picoway. For some reason it hurt a lot more this time. Maybe the the laser was on a higher setting this time. I also got a HUGE amount of blisterst! Some of them decided to join forces and merge into a megablister. And this thing was huge! About 6 x 4 cm! I had to drain it every morning for three days straight cause it kept filling up and then bursting. The first time it burst i had it covered with a bandage, but my sock still got soaked from the fluid....

Does anybody have any advise for avoiding getting blisters? My whole tattoo was covered with them.

Luckily the itching wasnt nearly as bad this time around. The antihistamines I got from the doctor worked wonders. Best thing ever....

The thinner lines has stared breaking up and are slowly fading. The small red flower on the top of my foot is showing really good fading and is actually starting to break up! And looking at the older pictures it seems the tattoo itself may be getting lighter? Though I had of course hoped for more fading of the black ink. But its only been two treatments so I quess the results are good.

Tattoo removal during summer

So my next (and third) treatment is scheduled on Friday the 5th of February. I`m looking forward to getting nr. 3 out of the way, though not looking forward to the treatment itself. I`m hoping to do as many as I can now while it`s winter and I can cover up.

Btw, how do you guys deal with tattoo removal in the summertime and it`s hot and sunny ourside? Do you cover up? Use sun lotion? Don`t give a shit and bares all until winter rolls around again?

After 3rd treatment with Picoway

It's been almost two months since my third treatment with the Picoway laser. The blisters were not as bad this time (I took more care to rest my leg and keep it high the rest of the day), but the blisters that I did had where only on the red ink. I also had a problem with the blisters leaking. The first night I actually had to wrap a towel around my leg to keep from leaking and ruining the matress! The black ink is still stubburn as ever, but I've had quite good results on the red ink. Some of the red flowers have started breaking up and I can see small patches of clear skin! I've been told that the clinic is getting an add on to the picoway laser design to target blue ink. That's great new as I have some blue ink that so far has shown no reaction to the Picoway (the slighty faded blue parts in the pictures are from a Picosure test patch). I've been thinking I had to go to the Picosure to get those parts removed, but if I can just do it with the Piocway thas great (and one less extra expence for me!). My next treatment will be on the 1th of april.

After 4th treatment with Picoway

The red is starting to break up more, but very little result on the black ink. Some pigment changes in the skin. Feeling down.

Next treatment on the 12th of may.

Massaging the tattoo?

I`ve read some places that massaging your tattoo after treatment with laser (and it is healed of course) is recommended as it stimulates the removal of the ink. But some of the doctors at the A&Q page writes that it makes no difference. Do any of you massage your tattoos and do you feel it has helped?

After 5th treatment with Picoway - hypopigmentation and red ink

So this is what it looks like all healed after the fifth treatment with Picoway.

Since there is black ink under some of the red flowers the nurse went over those with the black wavelength this time. Therefore the red is more visibly than before, but it means that some of the black ink underneath has gone. So yeah! for that. Again I see more fading of the red ink than the black. The red ink seems to go away inn little chunks strangely enough. The red wavelength also seems to be more aggressive than the black and harder on the skin. Most of my blisters (and they can be really huge) is on the red ink. I have also gotten some hypopigmentation, but all of it is where some of the red ink used to be. Hopefully it will fade with time. The nurse said they see more blistering on red ink in general.

I don`t know if I`ll ever be able to get all of the ink out, but I see some improvements and fading each time (even the black has finally faded somewhat now) so I`m keeping up hope. If all else fails I`m having the entire thing excisioned. I`ve spoken to several surgeons about it and while it can be done, it will leave big scars (and will be at least as expensive as laser) so I`m leaving that as an absolute last resort. Still it`s kinda comforting to know that there is a way out, a way to get rid of this thing even if it means scars. That I wont be stuck with this thing on me forever. I don`t know why, but I feel more comfortable telling someone I have scars on my leg cause I had a ugly-ass tattoo that I got cut out, rather than have said actual ugly-ass tattoo on my leg.

Sorry for the bad pics. I`ve found out that taking good pictures of your own leg is damn hard....

Day 1 after 6th treatment with Picoway

So, I figured I was going to try and document the process of what happens for the first week after having a laser treatment. I`m going to try to update everyday, but since I`m very bad at updating I can`t promise anything! :)

I had the laser treatment early this morning. The first few hours my leg felt very warm and prickly. It was actually uncomfortable to stand still in an upright position. After several hours the blister stared to show. And again it`s manly blisters on the red ink and really big ones at that. I`ve tried to keep my leg elevated the whole day and it`s seems to have worked cause I`m not as swollen as I usually am. I am supposed to wear the bandage from the clinic for 24 hours, but since my blisters are so big they start leaking right away. They leak through the bandage and my pants. I have to put a towel under my foot at all times. So I usually change the bandage before going to bed.

Day 2 after 6th treatment

So, day 2.

The blisters are still there. Just as big and bold as yesterday. It looks totally gross, I know. But it is normal (for me at least.) It`s actually not as bad as the last times, believe it or not. Since the blisters are so big they usually pop the very same day, but then they fill up with fluid again and start leaking. And this goes on for at least 3-4 days. I always scheduled my treatments for Fridays because of this. Despite a thick bandage they leak through my pants legs! I usually have to change the bandage three times a day the first few days. Normally I`ll wear a bandage for a week until all the blisters are gone and the scabbing is in place. So a slow stay at home weekend for me after treatments! Luckily they haven't been leaking so badly this time around.

I`ve seen some people here who are worried about big blisters. And that`s partly why I`m posting all of these gross pictures and stuff. Blisters can be big and gross and a real pain in the ass (I know mine are!), but in many cases it is normal and, if treated right, will heal. My tattoo had a LOT of dense ink in it and that`s probably why I`ve reacted so strongly to the laser. Hopefully it will get better as the amount of ink gets smaller. And despite all the big blisters my skin as healed very well each time with no sign of scarring.

Day 3 after 6th treatment

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday, but thankfully with a bit less leaking. It actually didn`t leak through my pant leg today at all! Improvement! :D The legs been swollen today as well, but the swelling seems to have gone down somewhat now in the evening.

I know you are not supposed to drain blisters, but since mine is so big and keeps feeling up and leaking, I drain the big ones when I change bandage. If I don`t they`ll end up leaking constantly throughout the day! Better to have the leaking in controlled from until it subsides enough. I`ve been really careful about hygiene and they have always healed very well.

Day 4 after 6th treatment

The big blisters have finally stopped filling up with fluid again and I don`t have to rain them any more. Still wearing a bandage though. There is still some leaking, but that`s mostly due to the smaller blisters pooping. The swelling has gone down.

Still looking plenty of gross though.
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