My Tattoo Removal Process - Reno, NV

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I currently have two tattoos that I really love,...

I currently have two tattoos that I really love, and one that I hate. The one I want removed was the first tattoo I ever got (and also the largest of the three). I was only 18 and like many 18 year olds, made an impulsive decision and have regretted it since then. I also imagined at the time that the tattoo would turn out much smaller than it actually did. I know this tattoo isn’t nearly as unfortunate as having some ex’s name plastered on some super visible location, but I still have been unhappy with it going on 6+ years now. I finally made the decision that my general unhappiness towards this tattoo has to stop. Over the years I have avoided going out in swimsuits, crop tops, lace-back tops, and even most tops that are white because the tattoo shows through. My dream is to be able to finally go out without feeling self conscious about the tattoo or feeling bad about it. I am still a huge supporter of tattoos and still like my other two.

I have been looking into tattoo removal over the last two years but felt general anxiety when doing so and always put it off. The two main reasons are probably like everyone else: the physical pain and the cost to do it. I finally came across a nice groupon deal to get three sessions for the price of less than one session for a tattoo my size, so I went for it. I then made an appointment to get a consultation and start the removal process directly following it (if everything went well). I was extremely nervous mostly from the fear of how much it would hurt. My tattoo is located on the right of my lower back, and the area is approximately 4”x3.5”. The pain did feel similar to hot bacon grease on the skin and hurt a lot, however I was told that the amount of time the laser would actually be on my skin would only last 30 seconds. I had her take a few breaks every 7-10 seconds just because it really took the breath out of me, and stopping to ice helped with the pain. I did not receive any numbing creams or shots, but it was over so fast it probably wasn't worth the time. The woman doing the treatment was also very friendly and nice. She told me she has had tattoos removed as well so it was comforting to me that she knew how it felt.
So far I have only had one treatment done, and have been told that the fading will start to occur slowly over the next month. The photos I am adding are my tattoo the day before, and directly 10 minutes after the first treatment. I am writing this only a few hours after my first treatment, so I will try and update in 2-4 weeks and post another photo hopefully showing some fading starting. After that, I would like to keep updating this monthly with photos of my fading tattoo.

Let me know what any of you guys recommend for after-care. I was told to ice it today then basically leave it alone (not pick at any scabs etc.).

Update May 12/2014

Just went in for my second tattoo removal session. This time hurt more than the first one. I haven't seen any noticeable fading yet since the first session. I asked about this and was told professional black tattoos can take 3-4 sessions before you start to notice any fading. I hope this is true (but I'd love to see it sooner!)
I've included a photo taken just 30 minutes after my second session. Next session will be in another 4 weeks. I'll post more photos then.

Third Session on 6/30/14

I got my third session today, and feel like the swelling is a little worse this time. I haven't seen any significant fading yet, but have been told that can be typical with black ink professional tattoos. Here's to hoping this session will result in some fading finally! Sometimes I think I forget how much it hurts when I go in, but I'm glad the place I go to gets it done pretty quick.

Blistering on Session #3

Only one day after my third session and I've finally noticed some blistering. I am guessing this means each one of my laser treatments is getting more intense (?).

Third treatment... hives, swelling etc

I am currently three treatments in and I feel like I'm finally starting to see results in fading. The bad news though is that I broke out in hives and got facial and palm swelling about five days after the treatment, and it hasn't gone away yet. Because the reaction was so bad, my primary doctor has advised that I hold off on any more treatments until I see an allergist and try to figure out the cause behind this. Of course I hope that it wasn't caused by the ink removal and that I can keep going, but for now I'll be waiting on any further treatments. I wanted to post this update because I've only come across a few cases of hives or allergic reaction from tattoo removal.

Two months post session #3

After my third session I mentioned breaking out in full body hives, and I even suffered from facial angioedema (swelling) a few days after the session. Over the last two months my hives have very slowly been getting better. I have had multiple tests ran to narrow down any other cause of the hives and both allergists I have seen and my primary doctor think it is due to the tattoo removal. Their best guess is that my body had an allergic reaction to the pigment breaking down in my body. Because no tattoo inks are FDA monitored, it's really hard to know exactly what I am reacting to. I spent about 3 weeks living on Benadryl, followed by another 4 weeks on Zyrtec. Now I'm down to taking only one Allegra a day to stop the left over itching. I'll be glad when it's finally all gone! I thought I would just update this incase there is anyone else out there suffering from this type of reaction as I've come across a few others like me.
As far as the tattoo removal, I will be stopping any further treatment. Perhaps in another 5-10 years people will know a lot more about avoiding these allergic reactions.
Sierra Nevada Wellness Center

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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