My half sleeve was my first large body...
My half sleeve was my first large body modification and even though I went to a reputable shop, I was set up with a fairly new artist (I didn't know this at the time) and I should have been told what I wanted didn't translate well into a tattoo. I am friendly with quite a few artists in the area now and dated an artist for five years, and the consensus has been that a cover up at this point isn't possible! It's time to get it removed enough to start over. Shortly after I originally finished this piece I did go somewhere to try and make it look better, but there was only so much my artist could do.
I had my first picosure appointment yesterday at 11am in Allentown, PA. I was really pleased with the service and it was mentioned that maybe splitting treatments into half of the piece could be done. We ended up doing front, sides, back, all of it!!! When we were almost finished I burst into tears like a little kid.. With complete and utter abandon. And I thought I had a high pain threshold. All three different laser types were used, but the actual service did not take long at all.
I'd say the pain lasted for about 16 hours after the appointment. It was like a grease fire was constantly burning on my arm. Sleep was ridiculous, I woke up about once every hour but at least I had the wrap on me. When I took it off this morning to clean my arm with a mild soap and lukewarm water, the blisters were formed. Holy shit they are big and only wrap around my arm where the blue ink was.
As I type this, two blisters have burst and I am letting them drain onto a pile of tissues underneath my elbow. I'm glad I took the day off work today but I wonder how I'll do tomorrow. I'm a hairstylist and I can't imagine these blisters popping in the middle of a client's service. I was told if I had blisters I shouldn't put the aquaphor on it anymore. I think they knew how big my blisters would get. There's no way I could put aquaphor on gently enough.
Two days later
Well I got to sleep and wake up every two hours, which is better than the night before so I feel rested enough now. I've had to take today and tomorrow off work as well which is super inconvenient. If I don't work, I don't get paid, and it's thanksgiving next week. If I knew I was going to be unable to lift my arm or knew I would blister up this badly I would have planned my appointment better.
Anyway I'm getting used to the blisters now. It's a shame even when they burst they keep filling up with fluid. I wish I could burst them myself but it was strongly advised against. They don't hurt too much but are definitely sensitive, and my arm is still swollen and feels very heavy :(
Just felt a blister burst! Gtg..
Faith is wearing thin
Sleeping is so uncomfortable now, feeling my blisters leaking and not being able to properly rest my arm are wearing me down. I have to keep my forearm propped up to make sure my swollen, heavy, bruised and blistered upper arm don't rupture anything. So I'm still waking up every two hours and I have to force myself not to get up and stay awake. The blisters seem bigger today and I'm supposed to be back at work tomorrow.
I hope this is one of those cases where the technician was like "right, she can handle the pain, let's blast that stubborn blue out on the first try".. and the recovery is atrocious, but it's going to be wayyyyy above what I expected the removal to turn out like.
I can only hope.
Got in touch with removal place
To make sure leaving the blisters alone was the right thing to do I got in touch with the removal place with the photo I posted earlier and they said due to the size I should lance them. Mum has been dying to do this so she was in her element. I feel so much lighter and happier! It's bandaged up now and we'll see if they fill up again. They also said the amount of fading was incredible for this many days in, and that put me in a really good mood. My spirits are definitely lifted :)
5 days in! So much better!!
My spirits are high and I'm back at work a little sore but feeling great.
Feeling like myself again!
My arm is still a little tender but I only notice it when people touch it by mistake or get a little huggy and I'm not ready for it! Part of me doesn't realize what hell I went through because I'm able to forget about it and can finally say I'm excited for my next treatment. The pain feels far enough away that I'm optimistic it won't be as bad as before.
Just had 2nd treatment
I brought my mum along with me to drive the hour it takes to get there, and I feel like I was triggered by the pain from last time and was pretty lightheaded sitting down for this session. I think having mum there also made me more open to crying easily!! Ugly crying!! I was so happy with how it had faded from the last appointment, but it's on the inside of my arm where the density of black and blue ink is the heaviest. I was dreading it, to be honest. I felt like a pussy and I hate being so physically vulnerable. The tech said I'd probably have the same kind of blistering as before, so I can't wait to see those bad boys again. I do feel better knowing what the post-treatment process is like. I can deal with that. Especially once it stops hurting :) it's been about 4 hours and I already feel like it's less painful than last time. The burning feeling is still here but I haven't cried in a while.
Side note for women getting this done: both of my appointments have been when my period is due 1 or 2 weeks from the treatment date and it makes a terrible difference. I wish I could plan it but I have an irregular cycle. The pain I experience might be completely different to you as I know we tend to experience more pain the closer we are to our cycle start date.
Day after 2nd treatment
10 Jan 2017
2 months post
The burning pain after treatment 2 did not last as long as last time! I was able to sleep decently throughout the night and I woke up to a very swollen upper arm but only one sizeable blister so far :) this recovery is already remarkably better compared to my first treatment. I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow evening for one client and as of right night I think it's possible :)!! Just in case, I took Thursday off too. Here's hoping to a less gross blistering healing time :)
Day 2 after Treatment 2
11 Jan 2017
2 months post
I slept really well again, and the smaller blisters have stayed small! I'm so glad!! Even the large blister isn't as bad as the ones from last time. The swelling is crazy and heavy and I hope it doesn't travel down to my hand like before, it was scary seeing it all so puffy.
As for my aftercare, we left my arm unwrapped after this appointment, and after 4 hours I was able to wrap it in this breathable tape meant for blisters and burns that they gave me last time. I was told if I get blisters to stop using/not use any aquaphor, so all I do in the first few days is wash with antibacterial soap (I rinse over the blisters instead of touch them) and pat dry. At night or if I have to go out we tape non stick gauze pads of various sizes together to wrap around my arm and then wrap that in a breathable bandage! It's a bit of a process which is why I'm so happy this time there's only one blister big enough to worry about :)
I took some photos but it's pretty difficult, my tattoo looks blurry but my camera isn't out of focus :)
Treatment 2 day 3
12 Jan 2017
2 months post
I slept really well again last night! Since we lanced a blister yesterday I've been putting aquaphor on that area, and I didn't want to bandage my arm before bed and then peel it away the next morning, undoing all the healing from over night. Last time that happened I basically had a little hole in my arm that took forever to heal :( anyway it seems to have worked, I didn't get it stuck to my sheets or hair!! I don't feel like there's a difference between yesterday and today for me. My arm is still heavy, swollen, and sore, but I took photos anyway :)
4 days after treatment 2
13 Jan 2017
2 months post
Still pretty much the same as yesterday, but I think some swelling has gone down! I'm back at work for a full day so we'll see how that goes.
Day 5 after treatment 2
14 Jan 2017
2 months post
Work went very well yesterday and I think it helped the swelling a LOT. I believe this time after the last treatment the swelling was so bad it travelled to my hand and stopped before my fingers, and didn't subside until 10 days after the treatment(!) I was quite uncomfortable with my wrap on and scared to take it off for the fear of it peeling away fresh blister-popped skin, but when I took it off the gauze came off beautifully and I saw some crusty parts which meant some smaller blisters had burst but not badly enough to be painful or exposed!! I left it alone overnight and this morning I washed with antibacterial soap and my arm was on fire!!! The itch is unreal but welcome, as I'm sure it means I'm healing. I smelled my arm to make sure it wasn't a gross infected smell (there were no other signs of infection but I heard that an off-smell is one of them to look out for) and I regretted it immediately just because my arm still smells like burnt skin. Ew. Ew. Ew. I would have gladly held my arm in the freezer to ease the burning sensation but I had to get ready for work!!
I've also noticed that my arm isn't as tired as last time when I use it (as a hairstylist I rely on my arm strength) so that's a nice change this time around as well.
Almost a week after 2nd treatment
15 Jan 2017
2 months post
I went to bed with the feeling I was getting a cold, and I slept for about 9 hours tossing and turning, waking up feeling like a congested monster. So much for my productive weekend!! I will post another update in a few weeks when the scabbing disappears :) happy healing everyone!!