Expensive Cover Up - Japan

2 months ago I have a cover up of a tattoo which...

2 months ago I have a cover up of a tattoo which originally had my daughters name on it. The problem was I got the original while on holiday and the tattooist did a horrible job and so when I got back to Tokyo, I got my usual tatooist to re-write the name on a different part of my bad and to cover up the botched job.

As soon as it had finished i knew I disliked it. It petrudes out from my shirt and just looks out of place and has made me pretty down and embarrased about my choice and my body.

I considered a cover up but that will probably just make things worse and so my only choice is removal. The process in Japan is very expensive and the cheapest I have been quoted is $500 per session for Q-Switch YAG laser. I know this method is not guarenteed but the specialist advised me that it should take around 5 times to erase which means at least $2500. The other method he mentioned was surgery which would cost $2400 but leave a scar and would have to be paid for in full. Can someone advise me if 5 times is feasible with laser for such dark ink or if surgery might be the better option?

Thanks in advance

Consulation reserved

So I have made a consultation to see a specialist on February 14th at a place called SBC clinic here in Tokyo Japan. They offer a variety of tattoo removal method but what interests me is that they are the only place I know that has the Picosure in the area so will update once I have been.

It seems there are some mixed reviews on the actual effectiveness of the Picosure so I am interested to see what advice the specialist makes.

First visit

So on Saturday I visited to clinics in Tokyo.

The first location told me that lasering would be leave very little effect on the tattoo and similar ones they had treated had only faded slightly. The doctor told me he recommended removal by staged excision and that it would have to be done in three parts, each 3 months apart. I was shown some pictures of the scar it would leave and it wasn't to bad, I did feel quite queesy when I was shown pictures of the cut out skin though. The price for the operation however was roughly $4000.

The second location, had a Picosure laser but the doctor again was not sure that it would yeild any great results. The price for the picosure was $900 per time and it is one of only two of the machines in Japan. The doctor then recommended a excision with a skin graft. I was shown some pictures and it looked slightly better than the staged operation. The price was $2400 and I told them I would take a couple of weeks to consider my options.

It would be great to put this whole thing behind me but obviously the idea of an operation and scar, as well as the cost is a little daunting.

Emailed another clinic

A friend told me about a clinic in Tokyo that offers a limitless package for $2400 which basically will allow you to continue visiting until the tattoo is cleared. Apparently they use the Medlite C6 machine, I am not sure of the quality of this device but I will at least visit for a consultation. How long in this case, it would be great to have a limitless package but I only have a year and a bit left in Japan so I don't know feasibly how many sessions could be fitted in this time.

Laser first session

So after having the consultation at ???????????? (Tokyo Beauty & Skin Care Clinic) which was actually located inside the World Trade Centre here in Tokyo, I decided to go ahead with the lasering path.

They seem to be the most tattoo focused clinic in Japan and what I liked was their realism as they told me that honestly they could not guarentee full removal, but that with 15-20 treatments it "should be" almost invisible to the naked eye (more likely closer to 20). The price was 177,000 yen which translates at close to $2000 and they basically give you as many treatments as you can fit in 24 months, of course they cannot treat you more than once a month.

So, i got zapped with the Medlite C6. The pain wasn't as bad as what I was expecting although I was definitley glad when it was over. It does feel like someone is flicking hot oil on you but the pain is managable. The doctor told me he used one of the lower settings though which is common for first time paitents to see how much their skin can handle. My arm was then bandage straight after with a Gentamicin sulfate (sorry I am not sure of the English but I am literally translating from the Japanese). I was also given a Azunol Ointment made from Dimethyl isopropylazulene to be applied in case of scabbing or itchiness.

Taking the bandage off this morning its unclear how much has actually faded, seems to be a lot of red spots. Does everything look okay?

10 days after first treatment

It seems to have faded in around the outer areas but not ally much in the middle as yet. Have booked in for another session at the end of March.

Another tattoo

As a little bit of a treat to get over the failure of the one on my I arm I finally got a tattoo I had been considering for a long time. I am really happy about the work and it is on my thigh so it will not be any bother. I guess, for me I really like tattoos if they don't pertrude on my daily routine.

Anyway, as far as recovery goes I am noticing a few holes around the tattoo which have already opened up and returned to my original skin colour so I am hopeful about total removal. I think it is just a case of not expecting it to be over in a year and just think of it like a process like losing weight or learning a language.

three weeks after initial treatment

In the last week I have seen some major fading in the tattoo and actual holes in areas. The coverup is actually fading so much that I can already see the previous tattoo underneath.

Will be booking my second session in the next week or so.

1 week after second session

Around a week ago I went and had my second session. The pain didn't seem as bad this time and there wasn't as much blistering after (although still a small amount as you can see) despite the doctor informing me that we were using a stronger setting than my first visit.

Seems to have broken up a few more sections although I am not sure if it is actually fading, as opposed to simply being zapped straight through in areas. There are a number of clear holes in the tattoo now. I hope to see more next time.

4 days after third session

So I went for my third session last Thursday. It seemingly didn't hurt much during the laser but afterwords the pain was definitley the worst I have had so far. The area around the tattoo seems much more red than previous sessions with blistering comparable to the first occassion. Large amounts of the outer areas seemed to have been broken up quite a bit and although it is difficult to see in the photo there are quite a few tiny holes appearing in the body of the tattoo too. I just hope my skin heals in time for the next session in 4 weeks and that it starts to fade more than just being broken up. Still, not too bad for third session, I guess?

3 weeks after 3rd session

Everything seems to be fully healed up so I have already booked my next session for this upcoming Saturday. I am noticing a lot of the tattoo underneath coming through but what is worrying is that it seems to be more solid than the broken up cover-up. Fingers crossed that the session tomorrow can knock it out quite a bit, especially the nose area which petrudes out of my shirt.

1 week after 4th session

So for this session, I had forgot my painkilling strips the hospital supplies me with each month but the pain during the laser wasn't too bad. However, after ouch! I have had to keep it bandaged for almost a week as it blistered pretty bad and the itching sensation has been pretty constant. Taking off the bandage today and giving it a quick wash and a scrub has revealed that most of the cover up is now gone, or going and the tattoo underneath is the only thing left. The colour seems to have faded slightly so i am hoping this will continue.

I am going to leave off booking my session until everything is healed fully. Does everything look okay, I am slightly worried by all the redness..?

Cover up is almost gone, but a few bumps are still present

So things still seem to be developing, although it has been very itchy of late (probably due to the current humid season in Japan) so I went and recieved some creme from my doctors.

The itchiness has subsided but I still have a few scabs so I have decided to leave it until later in the month before I go back for my next session. The ink in the picture actually looks a lot darker than it appears to the eye (more of a green look) probably due to me slapping it with lotion an hour before. Still a long way to go though...

A week after 5th session

It has been a while since my last update as I was travelling for a month or so but in that time there has been some fading, but it is definately not as pronounced as earlier sessions were. I am starting to wonder if this thing will actually come off or I am going to have to eventually just get it covered which I really don't want to.

Week after 6th Session

So had my sixth session just over a week ago, the laser didn't seem to hurt half as much during the lasering but after was really sore and almost compareable to the first time. However, there wasn't much blistering and just some skin peeling and itchiness as usual.

There has been some fading in the centre of the tattoo but the outerlines still seem prominent and strong. I am really wondering if this will actually completely fade after all.

Anyway, it is starting to heal so I will be ready for my next session at the end of September.

4 weeks after 7th session

The fading has definitley slowed down a lot now and I am starting to get used to this blob on my arm. I have my 8th session tonight and then a further two more before I move back to the UK in January. I kinda hoped it would be showing sides of almost being gone but I figure once I am back in the UK I might need another 5 or 6 sessions to really get it gone.

Session 10 - end in sight

Hi there, it has been a while since my last update and I have had about three more sessions since my last post. There is still a bit of ink and the skin where the tattoo was has taken an odd pink colour (is this usual?) but I can see the end in sight.

The clinic told me I probably have about three more sessions to go.
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