Without going into a lot of detail I got a tattoo,...
Without going into a lot of detail I got a tattoo, earlier this year, that I ended up wanting to get rid of. It didn't turn out how I wanted and like many others here I went through anxiety and depression about it. Instead of letting it take over, I decided to research what I could do about it. I found a doctor in my area that I was comfortable with and, recently, had my first pico session. I went with pico first because mine is mainly blue and green. The doctor that I see has several different lasers that can handle other colors, like the red, so the laser used may change later on in the process. The procedure itself wasn't too bad and it was relatively quick - about 10 minutes. I didn't use any numbing agent, but he did use cold air while performing the procedure. My wrist did swell a lot that night, but after 24 hrs it went back to normal. He has a no blister treatment that he developed and thankfully none have formed. Healing has been going really well, but I attribute that to my aftercare routine and supplements that I've been taking. Topically I use organic Silicium gel - I let that sit for about 10 mins - then arnica gel, followed by aquaphor. I cover that with a non-stick pad and wrap it with gauze. I check/change it every 4-6 hours. Supplement wise I drink tulsi tea everyday, take tumeric, bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and drink wheat grass every morning. This may seem like a lot, but in my research I realized that it's not only about the treatment itself. Taking care of you body and keeping your immune system strong have a big part in getting rid of the ink. Hopefully, I'll have good results in the weeks and months to come. I was told I'd need about 6 treatments, but I'm being realistic and trying not to focus on the number. If it's more, then I'll keep going...and if it's less, then I'll be jumping for joy! Anyways, I wanted to post my experience here because this site was, and continues to be, a big part of my research. I hope my story can help someone else - my best advice would be do your research, find an aftercare routine that works best for you, and remember that there are options and you can do something about it.
9 days post first Pico treatment
Healing has been really well. Limited pain and only very tiny blisters developed. Nothing that bothered me at all. I changed my dressing every 4-6 hours to "moist heal" it. Now just sticking to silicium gel and aquafor. If it feels itchy I put a thin layer of sudocrem on it and the itching subsides. Sticking with my tea and supplement routine as well. In the first week I did noticed that the outline of my tattoo had raised outlines but that has since gone away. Also the color of it seems to lighten and darken - that may be due to the light that I'm in. I'm happy with how things have gone so far considering the blue and green are pretty much gone. You can't really tell from the photo, but I can see lightening in the red as well as some breakup in the lighter parts of the outline. Next treatment is about 6 weeks away.
Two weeks post 1x
Since my last post my skin scabbed over and become nearly smooth again. Remember people, aftercare is key...and don't pick at the scabs. :) They will fall off when they are ready. Only a few tiny rough spots left. Still sticking to my routine. I also recently added a zinc supplement to keep my immune system in check. Until next time!
Treatment two down
12 Nov 2015
2 months post
I had my second treatment today - about 7 weeks after my first one. My doctor used three different lasers - one to target the red and yellow, the pico for the rest of the tattoo, and the last is used to prevent blisters. I'm not sure which was used on the red/yellow, but it did hurt more than the pico. More of a burning sensation. I also noticed the smell of my skin burning, which was gross, but the whole treatment was over in 10-15 minutes. For me, the most painful part is the 24 hrs after treatment. I'll be back on the moist healing routine (detailed in previous post). He told me that due to the additional laser it would take a little longer to heal. I'll be posting pics along the way. For now, here's a shot that I took just before getting treated.
Pictures from last treatment
14 Nov 2015
2 months post
Here are some pictures from my second treatment on Nov 12. It looks worse than my first one, but an additional, more intense, laser was used to tackle the red/yellow. I had more pinpoint bleeding this time. I have had a few tiny blisters develop, but nothing that has bothered me. No more pain and swelling - that subsided within 24 hours. At this point my routine is, silicium gel, arnica gel, and aquafor.
11 days post 2x
23 Nov 2015
2 months post
Here is a shot of my wrist 11 days post second treatment. Skin scabbed over and peeled off within this time. My focus now is keeping it moisturized - feeling drier than the last time - while it continues to heal. I see more fading in the outline and the wings. :) Probably won't have another session until after the holidays.
Nearly 7 wks post 2x
29 Dec 2015
3 months post
Quick update on my progress. I think I have some pretty good fading this time around. Most of the yellow has gone, red has lessened, and I've noticed more breakup in the black outline. It's nice to see my skin peaking through where there used to be color. Third treatment is next week. Not looking forward to the pain, but it's worth it for the fading.
I had my third treatment today. I had three different lasers again - one for the red, the pico, and the laser to prevent blisters. As you can see it is quite swollen, but the treatment itself was not as bad as before. I had quite a bit of fading from my second session, so I'm guessing that is why - there is not as much color to zap. I'll be on top of my aftercare routine for the next two weeks, then silicea throughout the day. I'll try and post another pick before my next session in March.
I've had some inquiries about my aftercare routine so I thought I would do a quick post about it. In the months before I started this process I did a ton of research and tried what I thought would work best for me. This would be my advice for anyone thinking about or currently going through this process - you know your body best. If you have any doubts or questions about something you're thinking about trying I would recommend posing those to your doctor.
After treatment, I leave my Doctor's office with my wrist wrapped and an ice pack on it. I ice it for about 10-15 minutes at a time, with about the same amount of de-ice time - so 10-15 on, 15-20 off. In my research I found that leaving ice on too long can cause nerve damage; even frostbite. Yikes! Also, I never apply the ice pack directly to my skin because this can cause additional burning; I always wrap it in a towel or washcloth. After the first 24 hours my swelling is gone and I don't ice it anymore. My first dressing change is about 5-6 hours after my treatment. I put a layer of silicea gel (let that dry), then arnica gel, and aquafor. I cover that with a cotton pad and wrap it with gauze. I keep an eye on it every 5-6 hours making sure my dressing doesn't completely dry out; I do this for the next 7-10 days. If I feel like it's getting irritated then I let it breathe for an hour or two then wrap it again. For me, after the initial week, I can usually stop wrapping it so much and let the scabbing process begin. During the scabbing process, I usually just stick with the silicea gel. If it feels really itchy I put a layer of Sudocrem cream (something I discovered from another reviewer here, tattooroseregretter). The scabs eventually fall off, on their own, within the second week after treatment. I don't pick at the scabs since this can contribute to scarring. The weeks after, leading up to my next appointment, I use silicea gel; on occasion I'll put some whipped organic argan oil on it. It can be a pain and may sound like a lot, but I feel that caring for my skin, especially right after treatment, is important. These laser treatments can be brutal. In my experience, how you deal with your skin/body after treatment is just as important as the treatment itself.
27 Feb 2016
5 months post
Almost time for my fifth treatment. Feel like I'm halfway there. Sometimes I still get down about seeing it there but the comparison pictures help.
I had my fourth, not fifth, treatment today. My doctor was really pleased with my progress. He said it looks like I'm more than halfway there. Very nice to hear! The session itself was slightly more brutal. The medlight laser used first was increased for a few stubborn areas. Thankfully it was only a few painful zaps. The pico and other laser, to prevent blistering, were barely felt. He did tell me that I would swell/pinpoint bleed more and that my healing would take a little longer this time around. I completed my first change there is definitely more swelling and pinpoint bleeding. I've been icing it all afternoon - may need to continue with that tomorrow.
First change is always the worst.
Ready for treatment 5
27 Apr 2016
7 months post
So just a quick update before I go for my fifth treatment. I have had quite a bit of fading in the past 8 weeks. Starting to see more of my skin! There is still green, black, and red but considering how pigmented it was in the beginning I think I'm doing really well. Hoping I only need a few more zaps. Here is the latest comparison.
30 Apr 2016
7 months post
So this one hurt. I got to experience a fourth laser and it was definitely the most painful one I've experienced. My Dr said he used it to help push out the ink in the really stubborn areas. He's been right about everything else in the past so I'm trusting him on this one. I'm still swollen but didn't have any pinpoint bleeding and no blisters.
Time for number six
27 Jul 2016
10 months post
My sixth treatment will occur on Friday. I decided to wait an extra month for several reasons but mainly so that my skin would have a longer break to heal and recover. The photo comparison is from my original tat to now, 3 months after 5 treatments. Until next time!
Seventh treatment down
I waited about 16 weeks to have my seventh treatment. My doctor is really pleased with how things are fading - the end is near! He is recommending that I continue to wait longer between these last treatments since now the ink being dealt with is more towards the surface. He did say that I would bruise more but the arnica gel should help with that. I got zapped with all four lasers as in my most recent treatments, but it didn't hurt as bad. I had swelling and the slightest pinpoint bleeding.
Comparison photo between 6 and 7
Here is a comparison of the amount of fading ink between treatments 6 & 7. For anyone starting or thinking about starting this process, remember that Patience is key.