When I was 19 I decided rather impulsively that...
5 Feb 2014
Day of treatment
When I was 19 I decided rather impulsively that what was missing from my life was a tattoo. I distinctly remember several people trying to talk me out of it, or to at least think it through a little longer, but if anything the discouragement from others seemed to push me along even faster. Before I knew it, I had a good-sized band of a rose on my right upper arm. I regretted the tattoo almost as soon as I got it, and I can relate to a lot of the feelings of depression and anxiety that I have read in other people's stories here. It is amazing how such a seemingly small thing can affect your outlook, but I completely identify.
I got my tattoo 14 years ago, and along the way my feelings towards it have ranged from forgetting it is there to acute anxiety that keeps me up at night (rare, but extremely unpleasant). About 4 years after I got the tattoo I went to a clinic to see if it could be removed and the technician told me that there was too much green and that it would never come off. I was EXTREMELY disappointed, but was hopeful that at some point there might be a laser that could get the ink out. I waited, and just recently experienced one of those anxious nights where all I could think about was getting the tattoo off. I found this site and was extremely encouraged. It has been very helpful to read about the process and to see pictures. I feel that I now have realistic expectations. Ideally of course I would love to completely erase the tattoo, but I realize that there is a pretty good chance that won't happen. Worst case scenario, I would like to fade the tattoo so that's it's easily disguised with make-up. I'm not interested in a coverup.
The day that I decided that I was 100% going to make the consultation for the tattoo removal (and even making that decision was tough, what with all the unknowns) something happened that solidified the decision. I went to the gym and worked out. One of the owners said to me (God knows why he even told me) that another patron had asked him my name. He said to me that he said to her, "Curly hair, prison tat? That's Kate." I was sort of like, wtf. I mean, PRISON tat? But he totally didn't mean anything negative by it, he was describing me (and my tattoo) as he saw me. So then and there I was like, Yeah, I'm going for it.
I went for the consult today and ended up getting my first treatment done. I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance but damn that HURT! Especially the inside of the arm. The nurse was great, and used cold air. She told me I could take a break at any time, but I somehow powered through it in one go. Several hours later and the dressing is still one. I'm not having any pain at all, and don't think I'll even have to take a Tylenol, which is a relief (but we'll see, haha).
I'm posting pics before my first treatment. As you can see it's starting out fairly faded. I'll try to post followups every couple of weeks. I'm grateful for this community and looking forward to being a part of it. :)
2 weeks after first treatment
It has been 2 weeks after my first treatment, and I'm pretty much all healed up. I am pleased with the results -- the fading isn't exactly dramatic, but I can see it. I don't see too much happening with the red and the yellow, but the nurse told me that those would be the most stubborn areas. The fading is most apparent in the leaves and the vines. I'm hoping that after a few more treatments things might really start breaking up. :)
I've been trying to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and get plenty of rest, as many people here have advised to do. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the whole thing. It feels good just to have gotten started with this after so many years of regretting the stupid tattoo. I'm going to schedule my second treatment 7 weeks after the first. It is very hard to be patient, and as long as I don't have problems with healing or scarring I will probably schedule treatments 7-8 weeks apart. I keep reminding myself what so many others have said here -- fading is a continuous process and that patience is a virtue when it comes to this. I wish it was a little easier.
I hope you all are doing great and look forward to reading all of your updates as they come along!
Treatment #2 in the books
I went today for my second laser treatment. I have had some fading in the green / vine areas of the tattoo, but not much in the red or yellow of the flower. I asked the laser nurse Heidi if she could treat the red and yellow ink with the nd Yag laser and do Picosure on the vine, since it seems to be working well. She told me that she isn't supposed to start with the nd yag laser until minimum of the 3rd treatment. She lasered the tattoo with the Picosure, and it was much less painful this time. Maybe it was just that I knew what to expect. Once she went over it she noticed that the flower part of the tattoo wasn't frosted or swollen, so she decided to use the nd yag laser over that part after all. She bandaged me up, I went to work out, and now I'm home. I've had a peek under the dressing and there is a tiny amount of blistering. Mostly the skin looks inflamed around the vine. In any event, I'm not worried about it. I've decided to take the advice which I keep seeing pop up on this forum, which is to take your time in between treatments . . . so I scheduled my 3rd treatment 3 months from today. I did notice the the tattoo was slowly fading all along, so it seems I might as well take advantage of that, as well as allow the skin to heal up nicely in between treatments. I've had the tattoo for so long that, although I can't wait for the day that it is gone, I'm not in a mad rush to get it off (though I can completely relate to that mindset).
I will post pictures in 2-3 weeks once I'm all healed up. Hopefully there will be some nice fading going on! I wish you all well out there, happy weekend, and happy fading. :)
Treatment 5 coming soon
Well, when I went to update my profile I saw that it has been a year since my last update. I have had poor follow through with updating to say the least, but I have been getting treatments and the fading is pretty apparent in the pictures. I've been waiting 3 months between treatments and will continue to do so to achieve maximum fading and skin healing. I have felt much less anxious about my tattoo since starting the laser treatments. I'm not sure if it's because the tattoo is lighter, or if it's that I feel empowered knowing that I am doing all that I can to get rid of it. The tattoo is a faded mess, but I feel no worse about it because I never liked it anyway!
I have been keeping up with your posts sporadically and just wanted to give a little update. Sending good thoughts and cheer to everyone on this site who is going through the same process.
To be continued......
Heading into Laser treatment 7
Heading off to get my 7th treatment in a few minutes. As you can see, there is still plenty of ink, but there has also been some dramatic fading. When I went in for my initial consultation I was quoted 8-10 treatments. Yeah right! Even then I knew that was total BS. At this point I'm mentally preparing for 15-20 treatments to get as much ink out as possible. Expensive? Very. But I cannot tell you the weight that has been lifted from my chest since I started laser treatments a year and a half ago. There is no easy answer -- but there is hope!
I'm going to wait until the end of October get another treatment after this one. I have been totally diligent about keeping the tattoo covered, and as a result I have a white stripe around my upper arm where the skin is really pale. After I heal up this time I'm going to get some sun and relax a bit. It's hot!
I'm feeling very optimistic and hoping that everyone else out there dealing with this issue is making it through as well.