I'd like to start this off with stating that I...
18 Feb 2014
5 months post
I'd like to start this off with stating that I always have been and still am a tattoo enthusiast, I currently have 8 tattoos which will soon be 7 once my removal is complete. All of my tattoos mean something to me and the only reason why I'm removing one of them is because it didn't turn out the way I was wanting it too which has made me self conscious about it. I looked into doing a cover up though eventually realized that I'd just rather have it gone. What I'm removing is a combination of 2 tattoos, I got the first part (a cherub) in 2002 and then added to it (a vine underneath it) in 2011. The whole thing measures about 10 centimeters in length and contains mainly black ink with touches of green and pink and is located on my upper left arm. I am fair skinned and have always limited my sun exposure, I've never had a tan in my life.
I've already had one tattoo removed back in 2002. My first tattoo removal experience went very well and I have no ink left with minimal scarring. This was a small tattoo (about 4 centimeters in length) and contained only black ink. It was already slightly faded at the time I removed it and was located on my upper chest. It took 5 treatments total to remove about 90% of the ink and then what was left faded on it own within about 2 years after the last treatment.
I did a search for tattoo removal clinics in my city and there were 2 names that kept popping up as the top rated. I tried to book a consult with one yet had a lot of difficultly in reaching someone and once I did get into touch they had very limited availability which wouldn't work for me so I went with the other highly rated one and was able to book in for a consult soon after.
The consult went very well and left me feeling confident about the results I would see. The technician also showed me some before and after photos of tattoos she had removed on other clients which I thought was a nice touch. I was given the estimate of 8 - 10 treatments and received my first treatment in September '13.
I didn't see much difference after the first 2 treatments which is what I suppose is to be expected. I noticed that I was healing up pretty fast, my arm would be red and puffy for about a week and then it would just itch like crazy. I had a few blisters and scabbing which went away after about 2 weeks. I have been trying to leave the area alone for the most part, I'm just applying a light moisturizer to help with the itch and peeling.
I'm now 4 sessions in and am seeing some fading in the top part though not as much in the bottom half. I've noticed that the touches of green and pink now look brighter while the black ink sections are looking faded. My tech says that the ink is being pulled more to the surface which is why the colors now appear brighter. I hope this means that over the next few sessions the colors will start to fade as well.
I have mixed feelings on my experience thus far. I am happy to see some fading and can definitely tell that the top portion of my tattoo is going to be gone quicker than the bottom half mainly as the top half was already fading since it is much older. The bottom half has definitely lightened up though it's unclear as to how many sessions will still be needed as my technician has described the ink as 'deep and stubborn'. After being told this I started getting discouraged as I might be in for much more treatments then what I had originally been quoted. Then again I am halfway through the quoted 8 sessions so who knows, maybe the next 4 will remove more ink than what I've seen so far.
I've decided to look into getting a second opinion on the removal and have contacted the other high rated clinic and booked in a consult. I'm wondering if maybe the best results come from getting treatments done with a few different lasers. At this point in time I'm willing to try just about anything to get rid of this tattoo, with summer coming I'd like to wear sleeveless tops and dresses without a huge mark on my upper arm.
I will update this after my next session and include some pics!
Thanks for reading. :)
21 Feb 2014
5 months post
I made a funny discovery the other day.
After feeling super self conscious at my gym the other day as I saw how pale and washed out I looked I decided to try a self tanner moisturizer. I'd heard good things about the results the new line that Jergen's has and I can definitely say that it does work wonders! After a few days of using it all over I'm no longer pasty white. I'm not exactly super bronze tan either, I just have a slightly sun touched color and my skin tone is a lot more even. As I stated in my original review I have a few tattoos other than the one I'm removing and I've noticed that applying the self tanner over them has made them appear brighter and fresher. People are now asking me if I've gotten a new tattoo or touched them up. That was a unexpected side effect!
I got a 2nd opinion....
27 Feb 2014
5 months post
Yesterday I went in for my consult at another tattoo removal clinic which I have heard nothing but rave reviews for. Apparently the laser used at this clinic is by far the Best. The consult went well and I am going to continue my treatments at this clinic, I have cancelled my upcoming treatment at the first clinic I had been treated at. After my consult with my new laser technician I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to see 100% removal of parts of my tattoo, apparently the ink is very deep inn sections and there is also some scar tissue built up underneath the ink which is impeding it's breakdown. I also am more likely than not going to be left with some scarring. It was disappointing to hear this though I have to accept that it is what it is. I figure if I can get this tattoo to the point where it's faded enough to look like an erased pencil mark I'll be happy with that. I am trying hard to stay positive and trust in my new technician's abilities, like I was saying I have heard nothing but rave reviews for his work and there are many who like me have come to him after seeing somewhat unsatisfactory results at other clinics and have had him give them the results they were looking for. Fingers crossed!!
I'm now in a bit of leeway as I'm waiting until the end of this month before starting up with my removal treatments again. The reasons for this is that I have some other expenses to take care of and also that the technician I'm now seeing was pretty booked up until the end of this month which I'm taking as a good sign. I'm trying hard to stay patient and remind myself that this is a process and with any process there may be setbacks.
5th session overall and 1st session with my new laser technician
28 Mar 2014
6 months post
Today I went in for my 5th overall session and first session with my new laser technician. Things went well. I've committed to 4 sessions with this new technician and have decided that I will finish out these session without freaking out about anything and just take things as they come. After these 4 I am going to wait it out a bit before doing any other treatments. My reasons for this is simply just that this process is very expensive and I've got to draw the line somewhere. I'm hopeful that after I've completed 8 sessions total that I'll see significant lightening and then can just allow it to continue to fade on it's own once my sessions are done.
29 Mar 2014
6 months post
I woke up today and took a good look at my tattoo which is being removed. It now looks pretty disgusting as it's all red and inflamed after my treatment yesterday. I can also tell that I'm going to be getting some blistering. It looks to me like the ink is breaking up in some places though the majority of it still looks pretty dark. I felt myself going into a panic as the thought that maybe this tattoo is not ever going to remove fully and I'll always have something of it left on me. The rational side of my brain is telling me that I've just got to wait it out a bit more and really the way it looks right after a treatment is not indicative of how it's going to look forever. It's just fully sunk in to me how much I am really kicking myself for being so impulsive about getting this tattoo in the first place. If I could only go back to 2011 for one day and change the course of history forever.....
Finally some signifigant fading!
30 Mar 2014
6 months post
I checked out my tattoo this morning and was actually a bit shocked. I am finally seeing some real fading and breaking up of the ink on the bottom half which is the part that the ink is the most deep. I thought maybe it was just the bathroom lighting which was playing tricks on me so I checked it out in a few different rooms and my suspicions were confirmed, it's lighter all over! Yay! The black lines are starting t turn into a navy blue and are looking more blurred. I've also got some raised areas which are looking white-ish which I think are some scars developing. I was warned though that I would most likely be left with some scarring as the ink is deep. Oh well, if given the choice I'd rather have some scars then this tattoo. Yay for progress!! I'm feeling a lot more optimistic now about the results I'll see with my upcoming treatments. Progress pics are on the way.....
My Rollercoster Mental State
I'm feeling some anger at myself and not just the usual anger about getting this tattoo in the first place This is a new source of anger stemming from the fact that I've seen better fading results with just one treatment at the new clinic I'm going to then I saw with 4 treatments at the previous one. It's hit me just how much time and money I have wasted on those 4 treatments for minimal results. I have my next treatment scheduled for May and that might have to be my last treatment for awhile as I am starting a course in May and haven't decided yet if I'm going to cut back on my hours at work to allow more time for the course. If I do then this means less income which means tattoo removal might not be in my budget. I haven't made a decision one way or the other though It's times like this when I wish I had credit so I could just prepay a package of removal sessions and worry about paying it off later. Then again it was thinking like that which got me into bankruptcy a few years ago soooooo.......anyway my tattoo is looking decent, the areas which were once a solid black have all faded into a blurred bluish grey. I'm optimistic that this kind of fading will continue!
Resigned to a few facts
17 Apr 2014
7 months post
I've decided to push back my upcoming treatment from May to June as I've gotten the opportunity to go out of town with friends for one weekend in May so budget constraint mean the laser treatment has to wait. It seems that the popular consensus is that the longer you wait between treatments can be the better as your body has more time to heal and break down the ink. I think that my treatment in June will be my last treatment for awhile because as I was stating earlier I'm starting a course in May and will be cutting back my work hours starting in June. I'll most likely resume my treatments in September / October. I've resigned myself to the fact that it's still going to be another year or so before my tattoo is either gone or extremely faded. I am optimistic that I'll see the results I want as my first tattoo removal went very well and I know I'm a good healer. I've decided in the meantime of still having my tattoo (though it is significantly faded now--yay!) I'll make it look the best I can by taking extra good care of my skin all over my body, not just focusing on my facial skin. I've been exfoliating often all over and applying a self tanner with a moisturizer daily. It's definitely paid off as my skin overall looks more even toned plus feels so smooth and soft! The exfoliating has really toned down the bumpy and raised appearance my tattoo was getting even though I know that there are scars developing. My confidence has risen as well now that I'm feeling better about how my skin looks overall since I'm no longer pasty white with razor burn on my legs since the exfoliating has made shaving my legs easier and smoother. The self tanner has also made my other tattoos look sharper and cleaner. I'll post a progress photo soon! Thanks so much to all who have been keeping up with my journey and lending your support, it really is so appreciated and my thoughts are with all of you!!
25 Apr 2014
7 months post
I am continuing to see some fading which is definitely a good thing. I am also getting impatient for my next treatment. I've been looking into the stats for other tattoo removal clinics in my city and have come up with a couple who have a high rating though none as high as the current clinic I'm being treated at. The only drawback about my current clinic is that as the tech is so busy it is difficult to book or reschedule and appointment. This is a good thing as I know he is so booked since he gives amazing results though it's somewhat annoying at the same time. I'm debating on getting a consult at another clinic who also uses a Quanta laser and maybe alternating my treatments between 2 clinics. I had stated earlier that I might wait awhile after my June treatment though I now think I'd rather keep up the treatments at the pace I've been going at even if that means scrimping on other things to pay for the removal treatments. I just really want this ink gone!!
27 Apr 2014
7 months post
I've been feeling down this past while about my tattoo and it hasn't helped that my guy decided to tell me that he thinks it looks worse now than it did before I started the removal process. Thanks honey! Well your partner should be the one person who is always honest with you right??? Anyway I'm feeling down just as it's truly disappointing that I've spent over $1000 on 5 treatments and still can see that I have a long way to go. I would have though that being 5 treatments in to my quoted 8 treatments would leave me with more fading than I've seen so far. Then again maybe the next 3 treatments will be more intensive. I really can't even seem to remember why I even wanted this tattoo in the first place?
I've been looking into other tattoo removal clinics in my city and have found that they all use a different type of laser and they all claim that their laser is the best for tattoo removal for various reasons. Some make some pretty outlandish claims about costing less overall, less healing times between treatments and less treatments over time. The prices I'm being quoted are the same for every place with maybe a $5 difference here and there so my hopes of finding somewhere who would charge less than $200 per treatment have been dashed. I'm somewhat intrigued by the TattX laser as I've heard from others that it cleared their tattoos well, then again I also heard that about the Picosure laser and I did not see very substantial results from that at all. I'm really beginning to think that you have to try a few different lasers to see which works best as this is definitely not a one size fits all type of treatment. It's just truly frustrating as it's such a gamble of which will work best for you.
28 Apr 2014
7 months post
I learned something new about my removal process today.
I spoke with the tech had my first four sessions with and it turns out that I was not treated with the Picosure laser as I had originally thought. The laser I was treated with was a Yag type laser, exactly which one I'm not sure. It turns out that my original clinic has just gotten in the new Picosure laser and I have been offered a complimentary patch test with this new laser to see how my ink reacts. I am going to go for this patch test as I am intrigued to see how the Picosure works.
So I retract my earlier statements about how I felt the Picosure was not working for me as I appears I was misinformed.
Picosure patch test
I went back to the first clinic I have been treated with for a patch test with their new Picosure laser. I'll post a pic of how it looks later tonight. It hurt a lot more than the previous treatments I've had. However regardless of how well it works or doesn't work it turns out that to be treated by the Picosure it's $400+ per treatment which I can't afford. I'll be sticking with the clinic I got my last treatment at as like I've stated earlier I saw more fading with one treatment there using the Quanta series laser than I did with 4 treatments at the first clinic using the Medilte laser.
Negativity from those around me
Lately my family and my partner are all feeling the need to tell me over and over how horrid my tattoo looks now that it's been lasered a few times and how dumb I was to get it in the first place. I am annoyed and insulted by this. I try very hard not to let others' negativity affect me yet it's easier to do this when the people saying hurtful things are people you do not have a relationship with. When it comes from the people who are closest to you it stings. I have enough regret and anger inside of me about this whole removal ordeal as it is. I know I was stupid to impulsively get a tattoo, I really do not need this fact rubbed in my face. Oh well tomorrow I'm going to go shopping for some new summer clothes which include cap sleeves so I know that a little retail therapy will make me feel better.
I'm taking a look at the area I had a patch test done on yesterday with the Picosure and it doesn't even really look like I had anything done on it at all, there's just a bit of redness. It seems like this test just confirmed that I should stick with my new technician who uses the Quanta series laser.
2 weeks since my Picosure patch test
16 May 2014
8 months post
It's been about 2 weeks since my Picosure patch test and the area treated looks no different, the laser did nothing at all. So my frustration has just doubled since this tattoo just does not seem to want to budge. Supposedly the Picosure is supposed to be the laser which wipes out all tattoos, well it seems that mine is immune to it. I'm not even sure if I want to go for my upcoming treatment in June as I just feel that I have wasted so much money in trying to remove this tattoo just to have it resist all treatment. I'm really considering either a cover up or an excision as I'm beginning to think that those are my only options for getting rid of this thing for good. Anyway it's good to see from many other's updates that they are seeing fading, I am happy for you all!!
Changed my mind about my laser treatments
27 Jun 2014
9 months post
Sorry for my absence lately, life has been busy with work, my course and many other things.
I've had a lot of time to think about my removal process since it's been about 10 weeks since my last treatment and I've come to the decision that I'm not going to be continuing with my laser treatments. I am very disappointment with the minimal fading I have seen after 6 treatments and do not have the cash to justify spending $250 per treatment for a bunch more. I was originally quoted at 10 treatments though from the looks of how much dense ink I still have left I know it'll be more than 4 more treatments needed. I'm not looking seriously into an excision procedure. I know that with an excision I am guaranteed to be left with scarring though I'm fine with that since it was obvious that I'd be left with scarring even through laser removal. The advantage that an excision carries for me is that it's one treatment and the tattoo will be gone.
It's unfortunate that laser didn't work for me as I was very hopeful and optimistic that I'd found a skilled technician though as I've learned some tattoos are far harder to remove than others.
Rethinking Yet Again
7 Jul 2014
10 months post
I've thought some more about my feelings on getting a skin excision and I've decided that I'm going to give a few more laser sessions a try before going ahead with an excision. I was originally quoted at 10 laser sessions and I've had 6 so I'm going to do 4 more and then reassess the situation. After looking closely at my tattoo I am now seeing some breaking up of the deepest ink areas which makes me think that maybe a few more sessions with the last tech I saw will result in more breaking up. As I've stated previously this tech has a strong reputation of being the best in the city and people have told me many times that he was able to give them the removal results they were after when they had disappointing results at other clinics. I've made an appointment for August and who knows? As it's been awhile since my last treatment (April) maybe after this upcoming laser session I'll see a lot of fading since the consensus seems to be the longer you wait between sessions the better results you see.
My Return To The Laser
It's been awhile since I've last posted anything about my removal process simply because I've been on a break from any laser treatment. Life has taken a few different turns for me though they've led me to all good places! I'm moving along steadily in my course and have a new job now which I'm liking.
Today I am resuming my laser sessions after about 15 months. I am going back to the tech who did my last treatment which will make this session the 2nd with him and the 6th overall. I've decided to go for 2 more treatments with him after this one bringing my grand total to 8 and then waiting it out for awhile before either going for more sessions or not. I think this long break since my last treatment has been a good thing. I am seeing more fading in the stubborn parts of my tattoo and the bumpy scars which I could see pushing out have diminished. I'm optimistic that I'll see more fading with these next few treatments! Progress pictures will be coming soon.
1 Day Post Laser Treatment Thoughts
I had my 2nd laser session with the tech I am currently working with which is my 6th treatment overall. This session has left me feeling pretty down about my removal progress for a few reasons. First of all I was told by my tech that the scar tissue built up underneath my tattoo is pretty dense and it's pretty much 100% safe to say that the scar tissue is what is impeding the ink breakdown. Basically the scar tissue is holding on to the ink and making it just that much harder for the laser to penetrate which means a whackload of more treatments before I'll see any sort of complete removal. What caused this scarring is partially because of the tattoo itself being done heavy handed though also apparently it's looking likely that the first few sessions I had done damaged the area and resulted in more scarring. I'm not sure what to think now after hearing this. I've also taken a good look at my progress pics and I really don't see much difference from how it looks now to how it looked after the first few treatments, the only difference is that it now looks more blurred. So I'm now wondering if continuing with the treatments is even worth it.
My second beef with these laser treatments is that they are just so expensive. I'm reminded of an experience a friend had with laser hair removal where she asked the tech why the packages are so expensive (laser hair removal packages generally start at about $1000) and she was told that the packages are priced as they are to cover the cost of the laser machine itself and it's maintenance fees. This explanation does make some sense and I wonder if it could be applied to the tattoo removal lasers as well. Even if this is the case I still find it hard to justify paying $225 for a treatment which takes barely 5 minutes of work for the tech and that I'm seeing minimal results with.
I feel pretty crap about this whole experience today and maybe I'm jumping the gun as it's too soon after my laser treatment to see if there's any improvement this time though I'm really having serious second thoughts about continuing these treatments. I feel like I've thrown a lot of money away. It bothers me a lot that these laser treatments are advertised as a one size fits all solution when I know and many others on this forum know that tattoo removal varies greatly from person to person. I unfortunately seem to be one of the unlucky ones who gets little but frustration from the whole experience.
I'll update my review with some progress pics in a few days, right now the area just looks inflamed and gross.