Final Stages of Inner Bicep Tattoo Removal
I'm not sure what my motivation was behind getting...
If I think about it, I haven't been comfortable with having the the tattoo on show since the day I got it. I would feel awkward if people asked me what it meant or wanted to see it. That shouldn't be the case, I know. I've decided that I'm not a tattoo person, its as simple as that (it's just a shame it took getting a reasonably large tattoo for me to realise it!).
What I need to do is look forward. I can dwell on regret, the what if's etc. I can be angry at myself for making a lousy decision, but none of that will help. I'm going to take pro-active steps in putting things right and re-gaining confidence in being able to wear t-shirts in public again and facing my topless self in the mirror!
Now, the problem I have at the moment (that I'm obsessing over daily) is this weird staining thing I seem to be prone to (at least from the one treatment I've had). I've been told that it will clear by itself over the coming months, but being the over-thinker I am, I'm worried that I could be left with a permanent stain in place of the tattoo. Having said that, I'd sooner rather be rid of the bulk of the ink and then perhaps use something to cover the remaining shadow up, should it come to that...which I hope it doesn't. I think there might be still be some light ink underneath the sun, so it might not be as bad as it looks, but it's still a real concern to me.
I have today booked a consultation at a different place for next week. I'm hoping I might be able to get a second opinion on what might have caused it. I'm also going to get a price for the removal of the rest of the tattoo - which is going to hurt (in every sense), I'm sure! If the price is reasonable then I'll likely go ahead and book up. If its way too expensive then I'll likely go back to the original place (which wasn't too pricey). However, in my mind I associate this place with this strange staining now. The suspicious part of me is worried that it could be be due to the laser they use, the strength or something along those lines. Anyway, I also have a follow up consultation in there the week after. So on a positive note, I've got a couple of options. On a negative note, my bank balance is gonna take a hit.
I'm going to keep this review up to date with my progress, including pictures. I find it helps to get this kind of stuff written down. Also, if it can help anyone else in making their decisions, then all the better!
My technician also did a test patch on part of one of the sun rays (I won't try and describe where on the picture because the whole thing looks such a mess!). It didn't really seem to be picking up much though so I'm not sure ill see any change in the strange browning.
I'll post up another picture in a week. I'm hoping to see some decent fading in the black (I hope) but I understand it can take some time for this to start!
Feeling generally down and deflated about the whole thing at present. Such a long process and none of this should even be happening. What a silly mistake!
24 hours later...
As you can see, the whole area is still pretty angry - red and swollen. Several blisters have formed on the darker areas but they're only very small.
You can see that the darker ink is already breaking up, especially the lettering. It's worth mentioning that I had the lettering done about a year prior to getting the rest, and at a different tattoo parlour. It'll be interesting to see if there's any difference in the fading.
Sleep wasn't too comfortable last night and I imagine it'll be the same tonight!
I can already tell the lighter areas are going in the same direction as the sun - brownness. I wish I had an answer as to why...
I'm having a problem telling if what I'm feeling now is still light pain or if in fact it's just skin tightness. The itches are setting in but don't seem to be too bad (yet).
I'm applying an organic Aloe Vera gel 2 or 3 times a day at the moment which cools and soothes the area and is meant to promote healing (so I've heard). During the first few days whilst the skin was a bit more blistered I applied Sudocrem, which has antibacterial properties.
The lighter areas (shading) that were treated seem to have turned red. When pressed they turn white. Obviously a lot of blood under the surface. This is pretty much what happened with the sun rays. I'm not sure what's causing this, could possibly be erythema?? Either way, I'm anticipating this to fade down and turn a light brown like before. Once the rest of the of the tattoo has faded down enough (and assuming the light brown hasn't cleared) ill need to see a dermatologist to try and figure out what it is and how I can hopefully clear it! I'll post a pic up at the 10 day mark once the surface has healed a bit more.
Whilst all of this is massively inconvenient, a real regret and a general pain in the a*s and something id much rather hadn't happened, I'm quite keen to see how and if this treatment works.
As predicted: the lighter shaded areas have now turned a brownish colour (like the rays did) and this is what worries me the most. It looks pretty rubbish at the moment.
The enormity of the situation (in my mind) has really hit home recently, and I'm starting to struggle a bit. This whole thing is on my mind 24/7! Any useful / uplifting advice would be appreciated :( Thanks ppl
Time Till Next Session: 39 days (but whose counting)
What do you guys think? Does this look like some leftover residual ink to you? Hyperpigmentation? I've gone on about this a lot on here, I know, just reaching out for any other ideas. Does she need to switch the laser up a gear to get at whatever's lingering around under the skin? If they can solve this I'll be a lot happier in knowing that they can treat the rest if it in the same way.
4 1/2 weeks since first treatment (I'm saying first as the top and bottom of the tattoo were treated separately on different occasions, so I've actually had two treatments, but technically one complete treatment of the tattoo... confusing!)
As you can see, the areas that were bright red after the treatment (the shaded areas) are now a dullish brown. The lettering has broken up somewhat. I'm pretty sure it's faded all its going to fade for this treatment.
I've decided to continue my treatments at a different place. Ill be being treated by a consultant dermatologist who specialises in laser treatment. Ill be paying a little more but I'm hoping it'll be worth it to be in the hands of a professional. The previous place I was going to was ok but it felt a little rushed.
Next treatment is 4th October. Ill post another update just before and then after that one. I'm hoping to see the darker areas begin to break up after number 2 and I'm keen to see what his take is on the brown sun that doesn't seem to want to set!
Still giving myself a hard time most days about this whole thing, but starting to settle in to the journey now, I hope.
Enjoying keeping an eye on everyone else's journeys too :)
(That wasn't as quick as I thought!)
Cover Up Sleeve
So I purchased a cover-up sleeve from the US and it arrived this weekend. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to mention the name of the website on here, but if you google 'tattoo cover sleeves' it can be pretty easily found. Feel free to message if you can't find it.
As you can see from the picture, my one is designed to cover tattoos on the upper arm, although they do a wide range of sizes and colours to cover tattoos all over the body! I went for a skin tone colour. It's surprisingly comfortable to wear and seems to be quite well made. I'll mostly be wearing mine at the gym when it isn't practical to wear long sleeves, and also a bit around the house when in a T-shirt. Although it's obviously there, it seems to make things more bearable when bearing a bit of arm skin again! Probably mostly psychological, but it's cool to not long down and see the inky mistake looking back at you. I find myself consciously making an effort not to raise my arm up when in short sleeves so I can't see the tattoo as much - which is just ridiculous, so hopefully this might help that a bit.
According to the website it also provides excellent UV protection. I'm thinking it might come in handy in the couple of weeks after treatment when the skin has had its ass kicked and needs protecting.
Anyhow, give me a shout of anyone wants any further info, just thought I'd share this.
Treatment number 2 next Friday!
Minor Change Of Plan (pretty boring stuff really)
Anyhow, managed to get a treatment booked in for Friday which is good. Round 2 here we come.
Session 2 Done...
Power went up a bit this time apparently - I could tell. Seemed to bleed a little more than I recall last time so she dressed it before I left. Anyone else experience minor bleeding??
She commented on the sun rays looking lighter than when she last saw it (which I hope was sincere and not just being nice!).
Arm feels like s**t right now. Going to keep it covered for the rest of the evening and then unveil Frankenstein's monster before going to bed for what will undoubtedly be a horrid nights sleep. Moan moan moan!!
We scheduled the next session for 8 weeks. I initially put up some resistance, as I was hoping for 6 (the waiting in between sucks) but she assured me it's for the best. I guess in the grand scheme of tattoo removal, a couple of weeks really doesn't make much difference.
I'll get a picture or two up as soon as it looks less like a shrapnel wound.
Have a great weekend folks.
Post Session Healing
I've purchased some bio-oil and am planning on massaging it in to the whole area, twice a day, once the surface is healed. This'll hopefully keep any scars at bay and is apparently just very good for the skin (especially after it's taken a beating).
Area still a bit sore, but rapidly easing, probably one more mildly uncomfortable nights sleep and that'll be it for this one (I hope!).
I'll next update when the surface is healed and I'll stick up a comparison picture or the whole tattoo (fingers crossed for some decent fading!)
On a bit of a downer today (seems to always happen on a Monday!) hope everyone else is doing alright. This whole waiting game sucks!!
Anyway, thought I'd quickly share what I'm doing to try and aid the removal process and look after my skin. If anyone has any tips, please share!
1. I'm currently drinking about 3 litres of water a day to support my lymphatic system as it works on breaking down and flushing out the ink.
2. I'm taking a soluble multivitamin each day to help support my immune system. The weathers getting colder now and if I pick up a cold or a bug it'll likely compromise my immune system and my body will have to draw its resources away from the tattoo whilst it tackles it. Need to try and prevent this!
3. I'm massaging bio-oil in to the area twice a day. This is (supposedly) good for damaged skin and might help prevent scarring. It's also contains Vitamin E, which is important for skin health.
4. I'm applying a factor 50+ sunscreen to the area once or twice a day (which is actually intended for babies!). This is likely not doing a great deal but I've heard it's very important to protect skin that's hyperpigmented (even against office lighting(!) and may even go a little way towards reversing it. Plus, the additional massage and moisture can't hurt (I hope).
5. Exercising two or three times a week. As well as lifting weights, I'm putting a little more emphasis on cardio now in order to get that blood pumping (and in theory, bringing more microphages to the tattoo site to do their thing!)
So those are the 5 steps I'm taking at the moment. They may be doing something, they may be doing nothing at all! Sometimes I wonder if I should just leave the skin alone entirely, but I figured it surely can't hurt to just be rubbing stuff in to it now and again?
Is It All Worth It?
As you can see, the black ink is responding well, some of the text is fading out, but in place of the ink I'm being left with a brown smudge. Surely that defeats the whole point of trying to get it removed?! I can't bare the idea of being left with a dirty brown smudge inside my arm for the rest of my life.
Every single day I'm asking myself the same questions - is this the ink breaking down? If it is the ink, why cant she remove the sun rays, why won't the laser pick them up? Is it hyper-pigmentation? If it is why isn't it fading out? Is it something else? Is it permanent? blah blah blah... If the position of the tattoo wasn't in my line of sight every time I wore a t-shirt or had a shower etc, then this wouldn't be so much of a big deal. But its always there, starting right back at me.
I'm extremely close to re-setting up the appointment with the laser specialist / dermatologist, to get his take on things. It'll cost £150, which is a huge chunk of cash (especially in the run-up to xmas, amongst other things), but I'm hoping at least he would give it to me straight and I'll know where I stand. If this brown staining is likely to be permanent, it seems fruitless to carry on with the treatments. My only options then would be a cover up (which I don't think would solve anything) or a surgical procedure (which would scar and would still take months and months!).
I try and tell myself that in the grand scheme of things, I'm still early on in this process, however, I had the first treatment on the sun-rays about 5 and half months ago now.
I've read that black inks can be made up of different colours, and I've come across other accounts of black degrading down to brown, but I worry that this then becomes a hell of a lot more difficult to clear, and I worry my current technician doesn't have the expertise to deal with this. Then again, I also worry that I could spend £150 to go and see this chap and he wont be able to give me a definitive answer! His details can be found here: http://www.exetermedical.co.uk/about/our-staff/dr-anthony-downs/
I've no doubt he is an incredibly knowledgeable guy, but I just worry that he might not be able to help me. What do people think?
Sorry for the glum post on a Sunday morning! hope everyone's feeling a bit more positive than me today!
Anyway, I got in touch with another well-established tattoo removal place in the South West (UK) to try my luck and see if they had witnessed this browning phenomenon during tattoo removal. A very helpful lady (presumably their laser technician) got back to me and said that it is something she has witnessed from time to time. She did seem to concur that (through her own research) this could potentially be iron deposits in the skin following the trauma of the laser (I'm now pretty sure it's this). She also said that when this does happen, they generally tend to find that it clears following the next few treatments. What's interesting about this is the fact that I've read on google about how effective the Ruby laser can be at clearing iron deposits under the skin (hemosiderin) -- this place uses a Ruby laser as well as the standard ND:Yag, the place I'm at currently only has the ND:Yag. I'm wondering if there patients are seeing this brown stuff clearing through use of the Ruby.
She said it would more than likely clear after the next few treatments (which would be amazing but I find difficult to believe, given her attempts so far), however, if it didn't, they would welcome me as a new patient regardless of how far in to treatment I am, and give it a go with the Ruby.
So my plan* is to now stick with my current place and go as far with them as I can and then once all the dark ink has gone, possibly make a trip to this other place and see if the Ruby can take on this browning!
Just though that might help for anyone experiencing something similar (I know there's a few of us on here).
*plan always liable to change as I anxiously move from to day to day with this whole thing!
I found Milk Thistle tablets on a reputable eBay store for pretty cheap! Thought I'd share! I'm probably going to start taking them today in preparation for the next influx of ink in to my body after next weeks session!
Hope everyone's doing ok.
2 Days Till Treatment #3
Anyway, treament 3 is Friday and I'm hoping to see a decent amount of breakdown in the black areas over the Xmas period. The ideal Christmas present would be to see the stupid Sundays dissapear for good, but it's not going to happen. Need to decide after this treatment if I want to move elsewhere, as it's getting to the stage now where I need to see some sort of clearance of the brown areas (which I think is going to require a specialist) to know whether or not this whole thing is going to be in vain! Post treatment 3 update to follow in a few days.
Stay strong everyone.
Treatment 3 In The Bag - WARNING: Gross Picture Below
Anyway, pain was bearable (seemed less so than the older machine they used last time). Again, had a lot of pinpoint bleeding as you can see in the picture!!). She said some people are just prone to bleeding a bit more than others. I had to pay a little extra this time as she went over the inner part of the sun rays, as it's evident there is still ink lingering underneath. Be interesting to see how they turn out in a couple weeks. We did another patch test with the 532nm (left of photo) to see if this picks out the brown. All in all pretty happy with the treatment (happy's probably the wrong word, but you know what I mean).
Again, sorry for the picture, I know it's pretty hideous! Normally settles down after a few hours. Pictures to follow in the next few days!
Have a great weekend folks.
Keeping a close eye on the part of the sun rays we treated. It's difficult to see, due to the scabs and the lingering redness around each one, but it almost looks as though they may have faded a little. Any appreciable difference would be fantastic! I'll post another couple pictures when the surface has healed (probably a week or so). Stay safe!
Attached are a few pictures as of today, 4 weeks post my third treatment.
There seems to be lingering redness around the areas of the sun rays that were treated - this is really bugging me. It seems worse after exercise and the shower. What's strange is that if I pull the skin tight, the redness clears and I'm left with what appears to be a small amount of ink. As soon as I let go, the redness returns. Also, if I look close enough (really close) I can see small holes in the surface of the skin where the tiny scabs were. I wonder if the skin is having a harder time healing perhaps? I'm fairly sure now I'm going to require a different laser to clear the lighter, lingering stuff. I just hope it can be done. I'd be so much happier if the sun rays were gone, so much happier.
The patch we did with the 532nm (to the left of the tattoo) doesn't look to have done a great deal, other than traumatise the skin a bit.
I'm quite a pessimist, and unfortunately I'm stuck in a very negative mindset about this whole thing, but I THINK the tattoo is very gradually fading.
Yep, that's it for the good stuff.
I have been slightly worried that the spot size used on me thus far has been too small, with potentially too higher fluence, thus leaving these small scabs and not 'treating' the entire tattoo, if that makes sense. I've read that the spot size should be as big as possible to begin with, and then made smaller towards to end. But what do I know!!
My next treatment is due on the 3rd January, however, I have a consultation with a view to a patch test and possibly even a treatment utilising the Ruby laser at a different clinic on the 11th, with a lady who I've been emailing who sounds very knowledgable and has extensive experience in the industry. She also specialises in camouflage, so I'll be probing her for makeup tips. So in the next few days I need to decide how in going to play my next step. Based on the fact there is still some redness, I'm inclined to cancel the 3rd and move my treatments to the new clinic, starting on the 11th. Just not sure what to do!!
Anyway, enjoy the holidays folks, we deserve it! I'll post up a new update in the new year.
I just purchased a flippin' trampette...
...or mini trampoline, or rebounder.. whatever you wanna call it!
I noticed a few folks on here talking about the benefits that exercising on one of these nifty little pieces of kit can have on the lymphatic system. I won't go in to the science, but be sure to check out the link below and read the article...
If you don't fancy reading through the article, I'll quickly sum it up...
Essentially, the lymphatic system is what rids our bodies of all the toxins and rubbish stuff that we naturally accumulate over time. And for us folks who are having our tattoos blasted by a laser every so often, it's this that is responsible for collecting up and carrying away the fragmented ink particles. Unlike the arterial system, that moves blood around the body, the lymphatic system has no natural 'pump' as such, and so relies on things like exercise and massage to encourage flow and movement. Studies have suggested that regular use of a rebounder can significantly increase the efficiency of the lymphatic system, due to the movement involved.
Ergo, vastly improved lymphatic flow surely = assistance in tattoo removal.
Aside from this, it has a number of other benefits to health, including just being a great cardiovascular exercise tool!
I literally only found out about this a week ago and have done some reading. As with everything else, nothing is guaranteed to speed up the process, but if we can assist our bodies in anyway possible (plus get a decent workout out of it at the same time) I figured I couldn't let it pass by.
Not sure how many times a week I'll try get on it, definitely twice at least; hopefully the neighbours wont catch a glimpse of me through the windows!
Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. I'll post a new update in two weeks time after my next treatment - which will be at a different clinic and potentially getting the Ruby laser involved.
Take it easy folks.
Happy New Year!!
Just wanted to wish everyone the best for 2014 and to express my gratitude to all those on this site who have helped me through the last few months. This site has been massively helpful in getting me through a real testing time. To some, it's 'just a tattoo', but to me it's the biggest stress and strain I've had to endure in my life (which is probably a little pathetic, people deal with far worse every day). Dealing with the constant feelings of regret, the 'what ifs' and the not knowing of what lies ahead has really taken its toll on me in 2013, since I admitted to myself that I'd messed up with this thing.
2014 will be the year I get this sorted out and I look forward to watching and supporting everyone else, as they do the same.
Thank you folks.
The Importance Of Taking Pictures...
If you're anything like me you'll find yourself obsessively, impatiently looking at your tattoo every day - in the shower, whilst brushing your teeth, whilst changing for bed... It can be very disheartening when you think not much is happening, even after reminding yourself over and over that this thing is a long process. Comparing photos from weeks (or even better) months apart can give you a little boost and remind you that fading IS happening and that every day you're heading in the right direction towards reaching your goal. So if it isn't something you're doing, I highly recommend it's something you start. There's definitely something psychological going on here, its almost as if your brain disregards what the tattoo was looking like a couple of months ago, and focuses only on how its looking at present, which is obviously unhelpful and creates a false mental record of your progress.
I recall after my very first session that I was going to take a picture of my arm every single day, as I thought it'd be something pretty cool to behold at the end, in some sort of sped-up slideshow - soon got bored of that! A photo a week or a photo a month is a much better idea.
Promise this is my last update till my next treatment next weekend.
Session 4: New Clinic, New Technician, New Laser
I'd been in communication with them via email over the last few months and was really impressed not only with the communication, but also the level of knowledge that their technician, Emily, seems to have. She seems to have to taken a real vested interest in the areas of my tattoo that turned brown (as well as the rest of the tattoo, obviously), and understands how much it's been bothering me. I was with her for an hour this morning, and she listened to all of my concerns and answered all of my questions. She concurred that (aside from a skin autopsy) there is no real way of telling if the brown areas are iron deposits, feint ink or melanin, however she tended to agree that the Ruby laser would likely have an impact on whatever it is. She also said that she'd only very recently treated a guy with some browning and that it had shown significant improvement with the Ruby, which sounded promising.
So, we proceeded with a full treatment (rays included) using the Ruby laser. She said she couldn't go in too hot, as she wasn't aware of what my previous settings were, but that we'd start at a fairly decent setting - 6KJ with a 5mm spot size. The pain was fairly comparable to the YAG, although there was no bleeding. After about 2 minutes I asked if they used a chilled air blower, like the previous place, she said yes but that a lot of patients don't bother with it!! So I went it alone, no blower, nothing!! It wasn't too bad to be honest. The brown areas were again picking up the laser and she seemed fairly happy with this, some of the really light areas struggled a bit, but that's to be expected.
Right now I've got some blisters going on, as you can see, which she said was to be expected with the 694nm. The area is very red and looks quite similar to my first full treatment a few months ago. Pain levels are easily tolerable but I'm trying to be careful with the blisters.
Aloe Vera: Check
Next appointment scheduled for 8 weeks today.
Let's see how this goes!!
24 Hours Later: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Tattoo Lasered
Area looking pretty grim this morning, glad she only went in at 6KJ now!! She said that the Ruby reacts quite differently on the skin than the YAG. What I gained in not bleeding this time, I seem to have made up for in some hefty blisters!!
Plan: Lots of Aloe Vera, lots of staying hydrated and lots of hoping it doesn't stay so angry looking for too long!!
Update.. Kind of.
It's been 6 weeks since my first treatment with the Ruby laser at a different clinic. Time has flown by, but I'm disappointed to say the Ruby hasn't really done a great deal as I prayed it would. My hope was that it would pick up on whatever was giving the 'brown' appearance and get it moving, but it seemed to only redden things up and potentially make it a little worse. Only now does it seem to be almost back to what it was.
For all the blistering and scabbing that followed, the results on the dark areas were lacklustre.
I've been reading up a lot in the last few weeks and trying to educate myself as best as possible on what makes a good laser removal machine. It transpires that the machine at my first clinic, with which I had 3 treatments, isn't particularly powerful, and is geared around many other treatments, aside from tattoo removal (something you should apparently look out for). This would perhaps explain why their technician went in at a smaller spot size from the get go (smaller spot sizes are needed to generate more concentrated, higher power) and apparently reducing the spot size can result in a lot of the energy being superficially absorbed by the upper layers of the skin. Long and short.. I think I could have been further along now if I'd been treated with a better laser to begin with, and I might not even have been dealing with this brown thing. Anyway.
My next treatment is on the 4th March. I've been in touch with the technician and asked if we can use the YAG, as I didn't see much from the Ruby. They operate the Quanta Q Plus A, which (I think) has almost double the power of my previous laser. I'll be emphasising that I really need to start seeing things moving along a lot quicker from now (for the sake of my sanity) and I'll be insisting on a relatively strong and very thorough treatment (we'll probably leave the sun rays, and maybe work with a tests patch of the brown stuff). This machine apparently uses a square 'spot', which is supposedly good for an even, 'homogenous' treatment. We'll see.
Like a few others, I'm accutely aware of the fact that the milder/warmer weather will be upon us again in the next few months. I had hoped to be able to feel confident in baring some upper arm skin this summer, after keeping covered up last year, but it's looking unlikely again. I try to take pride in my appearance, I work out regularly and I'm reasonably happy with progress I'm making in the gym, but having this thing on me is like owning a decent looking sports car, but with the most stubborn bird crap sprayed all down one side. So it's having to stay in the garage, even on a hot sunny day when you should be out cruising with the hood down.
I'm babbling, sorry.
Hope everyone's doing ok. I'm seeing some good success stories developing on here.
No pictures today, as there isn't much in the way of progress from my last treatment. Hopefully that'll be different for my next update.
Update: Treatment 5 - New Laser
I think she fired around 3000 shots in total.
Some crazy raised-ness was going on shortly after, but soon died down. The area is now red and a little crusty, like normal - but I'm happy to report no bad-ass blisters this time!
Next treatment April 22nd, but I'll post again in a few weeks - really hopping to see some magic this time - I want this thing faded down as much as poss before the summer arrives.
Hope everybody's doing OK..
Anyone get this..
Anyone else find that they feel particularly down about the process in the couple of weeks following a treatment? For me, it tends to be at the beginning of week two, and can last for a week or longer. The buzz of getting another session done, and potentially dislodging a load more ink particles, starts to wane a little bit. The scabs begin to separate from the skin as your body does it's thing and there's ugly pinkness-a-plenty. Your mind plays tricks on you as you desperately look for any signs of fading, even though you know it doesn't really happen (noticeably) for a few weeks, but the ink is looking very similar to how it did before. The whole area generally looks a mess and you can't help but ruminate daily about what the hell you did to yourself!
It's a rough old thing this tattoo removal malarkey!
Thoughts Needed: Exercising and Lifting Weights During Removal
Check out this excerpt (mainly the bit about Inflammatory Reaction):
Seems to suggest that as part of the inflammatory response in the muscles, an influx of microphages are brought in to the area to help remove debris, following strenuous exercise. Kind of got me concerned - what if these scavanger cells, that are necessary to remove the shattered ink via phagocytosis, are largely being perpetually drawn to our muscles (in the hours and days following workouts) to remove debris from breakdown of muscle fibre etc, and as such, we're getting a reduced amount at the site of the tattoo?
I'm SURE that exercise has to have a positive effect on things (increased blood flow etc), but what if too much of it, or lifting weights too often might slow things down?
Im probably thinking waaay too deeply here, but I'd be keen to get some thoughts, if anyone has any!
Treatment 6 Tomorrow...Could this be the halfway point?
I have my sixth treatment tomorrow. Really not sure how we're going to play it. Overall, the dark stuff has definitely faded a shade in the last 7 weeks. Some of the letters appear to be perhaps 70% gone. Although some of them are still reasonably dark. The same goes for the mountains etc. I can feel some very, very minor scarring on the two dark areas nearest my forearm (where the skin is thinnest, I think). Very slight though.
The areas of brown still continue to depress me. They look ugly. I kind of wish I'd never had a treatment with the Ruby laser, as it only served to darken things up a little, in my opinion. You might remember, we did three test patches on one of the sun-rays last time. Two with the YAG at different strengths, and one with the Ruby at quite a high power. The two with the YAG have done little (the patch with the higher fluence is still slightly red). The Ruby patch potentially looks a little lighter, but also the skin doesn't look like it should yet. I don't think I'll ask her to touch the sun-rays tomorrow. Whilst I detest them with a passion, they are still fairly light, and I know if she treats them there's every chance they could turn dark for a few weeks. Its our honeymoon in 5 weeks or so, and I know I'm going to be self-conscious enough of the rest of the tattoo - I can't be dealing with darker rays too. It will have been around 14 weeks since the other rays were treated, and they haven't done much. If they don't appear to have changed at my next treatment (22 weeks) then we'll have to hit them again I suppose. I'm still confident I can see ink in there when I press down on them and contort the skin in certain ways.
So, the ever-changing plan at the moment is, decide on the best treatment parameters tomorrow and have a decent, overall treatment (except the rays). Take 8 weeks for fading/healing. Within this time I'm getting married, going on our honeymoon etc - so I should have enough going on to keep my mind fairly occupied. Have another treatment a couple of days after we get back (mid-June) - this could potentially be a complete treatment of the whole tattoo. Then take 3 months off over the summer for extended healing and fading. This'll take me up to 7 treatments.
It's depressing to think that next month will be a year since I decided to remove the sun-rays, and they're still there, admittedly a lot less dark. This month marks 8 months since I started removal of the rest of the tattoo (and is kind of what I count as my official starting point). I keep trying to remind myself that 8 months is still fairly on in terms of tattoo removal. I really hope that in another 8 months time I'll be close to end of this nonsense. It saps so much of my mental energy. Just earlier today I got ready for a gym session, got sidetracked a little by looking at the tattoo just before I left the house, and the next thing I know I was feeling miserable and decided I couldn't be bothered. Terrible I know. That's what this monster does to me!
I'm determined to get out in t-shirts this summer, regardless of where I'm at. I won't be confined to long sleeves this time! Plus, I know that the things will be more positive than they were 8 months ago, when things were REALLY dark and REALLY brown.
I must apologise about the picture quality. There's something really tricky about trying to take a decent picture of your inner arm! Hopefully you can just about decipher what's been going on. I find the tattoo looks different in different lighting. In dull day light it looks darker and generally hideous, compared to artificial light. I'm sorry also that I haven't been taking pictures consistently in the same light/room/position.
I hope everyone else is getting along well with their removals. It's really great to see this forum flourishing and packed with people at lots of different stages of removal. I'd like to thank everyone again for their continued support, not just to me, but to one another also.
I'll potentially update again after my treatment tomorrow. However, if we just go ahead with another treatment with the YAG, there might not be too much to report, in which case I'll update in a few weeks.
Completed session 6 last night, feel OK about it. We discussed the best way to approach it and settled on leaving the sun rays this time and treating the rest of the tattoo with the YAG 1064nm at 11 joules, again with a 3mm spot size. Slightly more power than last time. We got some good frosting, which lasted a couple of minutes, probably the best I've had so far. The 'snap' of the laser this time was very loud and sparky, which I can I only assume was a good thing, as it interacted with the ink. The whole treated area temporarily became raised (as you can see in the photo) and seems normal for me, soon going down after half an hour or so.
We did a very small patch of the light stuff with the 532nm, as a test. The frosting (as you can see) was bright white! It also lasted for longer too. This got my hopes up a little, but my technician reminded me that this wavelength interacts with the blood under the skin, so pretty much always gets a reaction. We'll see if anything happens.
I'm fortunate in that Emily (my technician) has done some courses in camouflage makeup. We spent the first twenty minutes of the session matching my skin up with the right shade of 'Dermacolor' - she had some colour palettes in her office. I've managed to find a couple places online that sell it, for reasonable prices, so will order some in the next few days, once I'm healed. I'll let you know how I get on with this at my next update, but it looks really good so could be worth a go for some people!
I hope I'm Ok mentioning the brand name?
I'm going to update again in 8 weeks time, just before number 7 on the 17th June.
I've seen decent changes with my last two treatments. The difference between the Quanta and the laser I was being treated with to begin with is quite apparent. Although what I'm gaining in improved fading, I'm having to exercise more patience with healing. It's fair to say my last treatment was aggressive (so was the one prior). I'm noticing lingering redness (even now, 5 weeks from the last treatment). It's most noticeable around the dark areas, like the lettering. One of the words, nearest my armpit (interestingly) is now pretty much indecipherable, but there is some redness (maybe some hyperpigmentation in it's place). You can kind of see what I mean in the picture (not the same part of the text).
I had originally planned to have my next treatment (17th June) and then take there months off, but I'm wondering now if it would be sensible (as much as I'm gonna hate it) to cancel the session and take the next few months off. The skin has been subject to three aggressive treatments since Christmas (1 Ruby session also - picture on left is post Ruby healing), not to mention the treatments I had last year. Apparently an extended break, mid treatment, can really had a positive impact - allowing for proper healing and extended fading.
The other part of my brain wants to get another treatment in the bag, and I'm worried I'll be obsessing about whether or not I should have had one or not over the summer!!
We go on our honeymoon this weekend for two weeks (now a married man! Scary stuff!). I'm determined not to obsess about it. There'll be occasions when I'm topless I expect, I'm really hoping I'm not overly self conscious of it. I know that I'm going to be 'aware' of it the whole time.
I've got some strong sun lotion to throw on it daily and will be taking care of it.
I guess I'll decide what to do when I return. My clinic is great and said it's no problem if I want to cancel right up until the day before. Hopefully it may even fade more in the two weeks I'm away. I do sometimes wonder if the real fading begins only once the skin has healed - in which case I may have been jumping at these treatments too prematurely!
We haven't touched the sun rays since January, and I've decided not to touch them till the rest of the tattoo is at the same level. Despite how much I hate them, I can't risk spoiling my summer even more by potentially making them worse or darkening them up. For now I'm using Dermacolor to help lighten them. This boosts my confidence a little bit. It's good stuff, if anyone is thinking of checking it out.
As always, good fading and good healing to all.
Catch up in a few weeks!!
Time For A Break...
Anyway... I had a few down days (some worse than others), and thought about the tattoo a lot (like I have been doing for a year now).
I find there are times when I feel I should just go for a coverup and be done with this, but I MUST press on!
Like I mentioned in my last post, I've decided to postpone my next appointment (which was due in a couple of days). It's going to be pretty tough but I'm going to wait at least another 6 weeks before I have another treatment. Possibly longer. As you can see in the picture, there is still healing taking place, even after almost 8 weeks. Areas of the tattoo get a little pink still when rubbed. I think the skin on this particular part of the body is quite delicate, and perhaps takes longer to sort itself out. You can see the pink area near my armpit that she tested the 532nm with (the area that got the really white frosting). This is taking AGGGGESSSS to heal for some reason. Anyone know what I could use to speed this up?
Also, you'll notice that there appears to be areas (most prominently around the lettering) of brown-ness (not just the areas of shading that have been like that from the start). I think this is either a) hyperpigmentation or b) broken down ink migrating away from the site. Either way, I don't think another session right now would be sensible, considering there still appears to be a lot going on. I also want to test the theory that an extended break, mid treatment, can yield some good results.
I'm buckling up for another uncomfortable summer (mentally speaking mostly) but taking some solace in the fact that I've come a good way since last summer (and hopefully won't feel quite a miserable as I did a year ago!). Hopefully this time next year all that'll be left is a faded reminder of all of this (which I've pretty much come to accept is likely the reality now - hopefully very faded, mind!).
Anyway, comparison picture above from start till now. Lighting is artificial in the most recent one. It's ugliness changes depending on what light you view it in. With natural light in a room it looks pretty gross, but I'm gonna use the Dermacolour to fade it down a bit and hopefully get me through the summer.
This'll probably be my last update for a few weeks. I'm going to keep track of everyone else's reviews and comment where I can. We're all in this together!!
Keep going people, keep going.
Just Checking In...
Going forward I've decided to put 12 weeks between treatments - this means that'll I've had ten treatments (4 more) by the time next summer rolls around, and I really hope I'll be almost done by then. This still weighs very heavily on my mind for a great deal of the time, but I'm hoping that persistence will pay off in the end.
I'll post a full picture with my next update, after treatment 7, in September. I just wanted to highlight the break up in the dark areas in this update.
I'm gradually coming to terms with the fact that the skin there will never likely look as good as new again, as there are some sections of the tattoo that are very slightly raised - but provided we can get all the pigment out, I'll be ok with this.
As ever, best of luck to everyone and keep at it!
Better Progress Comparison Pics...
Was on a bit of a downer this evening, so decided to try and pull together some more comparison images. I must apologise for the lack of continuity - not only do I apparently make bad tattoo choices, but I also can't seem to grasp the concept of taking pictures in the same lighting!
Anyway, next month will mark a year since I started full removal - here's where we're at...
Promise not to update again till September..
This thing is really taking it's toll on me of late. I'm not too proud to say I've been reduced to tears because of this whole mess on more than one occasion recently - which to some may sound pathetic, but it's true.
The tattoo today looks as dark and as brown as ever. It's clear my tattoo hasn't responded to laser treatment in the way most do. I'm now left with a black/brown mess on my arm that I can't stand the sight of and just perpetually makes me feel miserable.
I've emailed a nearby clinic (i mentioned them earlier in my review) to ask to see their consultant dermatologist, who specialises in laser treatment. I'll be asking him for his expert opinion and what the likelihood is of this staining clearing. It's clear that waiting isn't helping - the sun rays were last treated almost seven months ago and they're pretty much as dark today as they were then. I still hope that some kind of optimal laser settings are required to remove this browning, but it could be permanent, I really don't know anymore. I'm also experiencing brownness appearing around the lettering, which wasn't the case before. It's just all a little too much. I don't want to pay any more money on treatments if they're just going to make things worse and not better. I certainly don't want to be stuck with a brown silhouette of a tattoo either. I'm being as patient as I can, but I can only go so far.
If the consultant is unable to help then i may well start looking at a coverup. It seems like my last option. It would be something i'd have to think very long and hard about (something I neglected to do when I first got the tattoo) and would have be done by the best artist I could find. That said, I still don't know if it's light enough to cover yet! At the beginning of my review I think I said tattoos aren't me, but in hindsight I'm wondering if I felt that because this tattoo put me off. Maybe if I can get something I really like that looks fantastic over the top of it, then, who knows.
The pictures in my previous couple of updates look considerably better than the tattoo does in person. I just took another one and it looked awful - so much so that I can't bring myself to post it.
I feel pretty hopeless right now.
So sorry to post such a negative update. Like I've mentioned before, I want to be as candid as possible in documenting this process - including all the very low points!
I know there are people on here who have been at this for a lot longer than me, but I'm so mentally drained from a year of constant worry and obsessing, that I need to do something about it now.
I'll let you know if I get an appointment with the consultant.
In the mean time, good luck to everyone as ever, and I look forward to continuing offering my support where I can.
That said, I still get taken aback by how kind and generous people are with their support on here. Thank you again for the ongoing comments. I've updated quite a bit lately, and I hope it doesn't look like a cry for attention.
I promise my next update will bring more positive news.
In the meantime, I'm going to start thinking about how I might go about a coverup, but it wouldn't/shouldn't be something I go ahead with (if it gets to that point) until next year. Can't hurt to start throwing a few ideas about.
Enjoy your week folks, I'm making it my goal to stop this obsessive thinking! :)
Five Month Break Complete, Now Show Me The Laser! (But First, A Consultation)
Summer time is coming to a close here and the weather is starting to cool down a little (which is good news for those us tiring of having to make excuses about being in long sleeves!).
My last treatment was back in April, and I (reluctantly) wanted to take some time away from the laser to allow for some extended fading and to give the skin a bit of time off from getting beaten up!!
So, how's it looking....?
Well, there has been some definite fading in all of the dark areas (the lettering and the mountains). Some of the lettering nearest the armpit is all but gone (which I assume is due to more movement and friction in that area, drawing more blood in. My last treatment was pretty intense, and as a result an army of melanin warriors decided to join the battle - resulting in some brownness around the inked areas (on parts of the skin that contain no ink), mainly the lettering. I have theorised about this, and wondered if this was due to the spot size used being wider than the area of ink (talking about the lettering here), and so something was also being targeted within the un-inked skin (even though I know its mostly only supposed to target the ink pigment) - anyway, not sure about that.
The lighter areas remained kind of the same, and may have faded slightly (the shading at the bottom etc). The sunrays have perhaps faded a fraction since they were treated at the start of the year, but their brown silhouette remains very much there and haunts me daily! In certain lights and at certain angles I can see that they are ever so slightly raised up - so I assume we're dealing with some minor scarring. I also have a couple of very small (what I think are) keloids in the darker areas, which I assume could have been due to scabs coming off prematurely. I'm not too worried about these, although they do get a little pink from time to time. All in all I think the extended break was a good idea.
So, i'm 6 treatments in, and if I had to guess, from looking at the tattoo, I'd say its between 50-60% faded. Not bad for 6 treatments, but still a good way from what I'd consider an acceptable outcome. My last two treatments (with the Quanta Q Plus A) probably yielded the best results so far, but the trade off has been some additional hyperpigmentation (and maybe even a little scarring).
The whole brown thing still gets to me. I don't know if I'll be able to settle with a light brown silhouette of the tattoo, once all the ink is gone, I'm just not sure that's an aesthetically sufficient outcome for me. So, for that reason, I decided to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to get their opinion on my progress so far, what the brown is and if it can be targeted/dispersed etc etc. You may remember from earlier in my treatment that I'd scheduled to see him before, but pulled out due to how expensive it was. I re-booked to see him, and am due to do so this Thursday.
I know some people on here think that seeing a dermatologist is a waste of time, as they don't really have an understanding about how tattoos are applied etc, but, this guy (according to the credentials on the website) is a consultant dermatologist and laser specialist of international standing. He has collaborated with the likes of Cynosure and Candela as an advisor and clinical researcher and is considered the leading opinion on non ablative laser treatment in the whole region. I get twenty minutes with this guy, for quite an obscene amount of money, and I plan on walking in there with a list of twenty questions and lots of photographs etc. Depending on how the consultation goes, I suppose he may offer his services to remove the remainder of the tattoo, tackle the brown etc. Or, he may just tell me to keep going where I am. I know one of the worst things you can do in removal is switch clinics (especially more than once!), but I got to be smart here. If he offers his services and the price is similar to what I'm paying now, then I may be very tempted. They're also situated within five minutes of me, not an hour. It all depends on how well the consultation goes and if I develop an affinity with this guy. I'll also be asking him (purely out of interest) what my surgical options would be (if any).
So, that's where I'm at at the moment. I'll be sure to post an update once I've met with him and I'll try take some decent photos (although I find it more difficult each time, as I just hate looking at the thing!!).
On a side note, I've been seeing a therapist recently to try and help with obsessional thoughts on this thing. We're working on 'accepting uncertainty' - which is pretty relevant when it comes to tattoo removal! I'll also keep you posted on if that helps.
All the best for now.
Anyway. I gave him a brief rundown of the situation, and showed him a couple pictures. I spent all day trying to work out what I was going to say, but still couldn't get it all out in the right order, nor say everything I wanted - but I think he got the jist. I said my primary worry is being left with a brown silhouette once the ink is gone. I showed him the tattoo. He had a look in to the skin using some pretty cool handheld device with a light attached - very similar to what doctors use when they peer in to your ears! He said that the colour wasn't the right kind of brown to be hemosiderin (iron deposits) so I guess I can finally cross that off the list of suspects. He pretty much agreed it was an abundance of melanin, the colour producing cells, possibly mixed in with some ink particles too. He did a couple of small patches with a fractional laser (which I barely felt!). Nothing much happened except for turning the skin a little red for a few minutes. More interestingly he advised me to go away and try a cream called 'Pigmanorm'. They ship it in from Germany. It contains 5% Hydroquinone, and essentially works as a depigmenting cream (cost me £40!!) I've heard different things about hydroquinone, and I know it's quite a contentious ingredient, but I'm at the stage now where I'll try anything to reduce this brown tinge. I'm to apply it three times a week (I'll probably apply it every other day) and see how it's looking after a couple of months. I found translated instructions online that say to cease use if it isn't working in three months, so if it is going to doing something, hopefully it should be visible after a few weeks. I still don't know if something topical is going to reach to whatever depth this brown pigment is sitting at, but then again, who knows where it's sitting at!!
I called my clinic and told my technician about my consultation. Reluctantly, at the advice of the doctor, I should continue with my break away from the laser, whilst I give this cream a chance. So for that reason I'm not having a full treatment on Tuesday. However, I am going to have a couple of patches blasted with the Ruby laser again, at different spot sizes and higher energy. We did a really small patch with the Ruby back in March, at a higher energy than my full treatment with it back in January (the one that didn't do much) and it looks almost like some clear skin peaking trough, but it's too small to tell, hence I want to go a little bigger.
The waiting game sucks so bad, especially when not a lot appears to be happening. If this cream doesn't deliver, and the Ruby laser doesn't do anything, then I'll have to weigh up my options (which are fairly limited!!). The doctor did say that studies have shown that ink will continue to fade up to a year after a treatment, so that made me feel a little better in knowing that all this time passing me buy isn't being completely wasted!
I'll post again after my patch tests with the Ruby next week. Not really worth putting up a picture at the moment, as it's so hard to capture what's going on, and doesn't look too different from when I posted in April.
Ruby Patch Tests
Just made the 2.5 hour round trip for a few patch tests with the Ruby. Could be clutching at straws but a (really) small patch we did with it back in March almost seems to be showing signs of clear skin in one of the sun rays, so I wanted to do a couple of bigger patches, with a couple different settings (high fluence) to see if it can fade the brown at all.
Quite frustrating not to have a full treatment, especially as it's been five months since my last, but I'm going on the dermatologists advice, and want to see of the Pigamanorm does anything to help reduce the brown on the rest of the tattoo.
So, to summarise, I'm now going to wait and watch for a few weeks a) to see if the Pigmanorm fades the brown at all or b) if the Ruby fades the brown at all. Best case scenario is at least one of the square patches we hit with the Ruby clears, or at the very least shows some fading. Second best case scenario is that the Ruby does nothing, but the Pigmanorm does. Worst case scenario is that neither does anything. Irrespective of what happens, I'll be having another treatment before Christmas. My technician and I agreed that there's still a decent amount of black to target, and once that's gone the whole thing will appear really light. We can worry about the brown later.
I'll update again in a few weeks. Fingers crossed.
So I've just got home from my seventh session (not including the small test patches I've had done here and there) after a 6.5 month layoff.
Unfortunately (as you might see in the picture) the Ruby patches hasn't fully healed yet, and are sill red, so it's not clear to tell if they did a great deal. My technician was quite surprised by this, as it's been 6 weeks. On a side note, I'm thinking of asking my doctor for a diabetes test, as I've noticed I tend to heal a little slower on other parts of the body too (and pee quite a lot!!) - anyone any experience with this?
Today we went for a partial treatment on the remaining script and mountains. I wanted to leave the sunrays again and also the shaded area below the script, as I plan on continuing the Pigmanorm cream on these sections over the next couple of months. My thinking being, if these brown areas are a post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation response then going over them again could just end up 'stacking up' more melanin under the skin, which I don't want. So, if I give the Pigmanorm cream (which contains 5% hydroquinone) a full and thorough chance of supressing the melanocytes and THEN go over the areas with the laser, in theory this should lead to easier targetting of the remaining ink and less likelihood or additional brownness forming (IF it is melanin). I'm only 7 weeks in to using the cream, so by waiting till my next appointment on January 10th, i think it will have had enough opportunity to do its thing. If not much has changed then at least I know I've tried it. All a little complicated, I know. Hope that makes sense!! I'm trying to approach this as sensibly as possible. One thing I do take a little comfort in is that I can actually see there is still some targetable ink left within the sun rays. So at the very least we should be able to fade them down a bit more.
Anyway, I expressed my concern that the uninked areas around the ink (especially the lettering) took on a little of this browness after my last two sessions, and so I asked about using the 2mm spot, to try and reduce overlap on to uninked skin, which we did. We went over the remaining dark stuff in as much detail as possible. We were up pretty high with the fluence (around 20j I think), and managed to hit most of it. Still getting a good 'snap' reaction and some immediate frosting, although this session seemed a little less painful than the others. The difficulty arose when all my surrounding skin started turning red (I've got such rediculously over-sensitive skin) which made it a little tricky to decipher the ink. Anyway, all in all I'm relatively happy with how it went, and ready to push on with this now.
I'm also trialling a new aftercare lotion - so I'll be sure to let you guys know if this helps. Right now the area isn't very painful at all - I don't know if this is the lotion, or if it's because there was less damage caused by the laser, due to their being less ink!
All the best for now folks. I'll update the day of session 8 on January 10th, when we'll probably do a complete treatment.
A-ha! those mind games...I remember you.
I'm probably preaching mostly to the already well-educated on here, but for those who are new to this and perhaps don't fully understand the process that the ink/skin is going through after each session, it's important to remember that the full extent of the success of your most recent laser session is only fully realised just before your next treatment. It's a very gradual process of breaking up the ink, then allowing the body to naturally collect it up and take it away over the following weeks and months. Don't get sucked in to thinking that a treatment has done nothing (assuming the technician has used sufficient settings) in the first couple of weeks or probably even the first month... The real work happens in the weeks following on from that!!
I hope that reassures a few people (myself included!)
All the best for now. This is my last update of 2015. I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and I'll update on Jan 8th (as per the original plan!!)
So I've just got home from another ass-whoopin' courtesy of the laser. Today marks 9 weeks since my last treatment.
I healed fairly decently from my last session, but again it seemed to take a while. The Ruby patches we did back in September STILL remain kind of pink. Even my technician said that was kind of strange. I mentioned I'd got myself tested for diabetes (of which slow wound healing can be a sign), and the result was normal. She brought up zinc, and emphasised how important it is in healing skin. Someone mentioned this to me earlier in the process on here, and I gave it a go, but perhaps too briefly. So on the way home I picked up a good multivitamin which contains 15mg of zinc, so if I am deficient, I guess this could help - we'll see.
I went back and forth in my brain about how much of the tattoo to treat today. The sun rays are looking light nowadays, but still not going away fully, and there's evidence of some ink left in them. After some discussion we decided that today would be a good time to blast them, being the middle of winter. She knows they're the part I dislike the most, and so by lasering them they're going to look worse again for a little while, but at least I can keep it covered whilst it's cold!! So we treated pretty much everything.
As you can see, I bled. I've read different things about pinpoint bleeding online - some say it should be avoided, whilst others say it can be a normal part of the procedure. It isn't new to me, as you'll see I've bled a little bit before. I debated on not putting the picture up, cos' it's a little gross, but again I want to keep this review as candid as possible, and I want to record which areas where lasered.
We went back to the 3mm spot and used 12j/cm2, which is the ceiling for that spot size. Despite being less fluence, it seemed to 'react' better than the 2mm spot (with 20j/cm2) that we used last time. Still getting a good 'snap'. Strange! She was very thorough in trying to target all the ink, which becomes difficult when my arm turns red so quickly!! Damn sensitive skin!
I'm resigned to the fact that there will be a couple areas of minor scarring, which I'll endeavour to treat with bio oil or something similar at a later date, but I'm ok with this. I think this may be due to some accidental scab removal, earlier in the process.
All in all I'm quite happy (well, about as happy as you can be with this) with how today went. I'm scheduled to head back in another 9 weeks, on the 14th March, so I'll check back in then. I'm also hoping to make a really short vine video, showing how my skin heals each week, so I'll try upload that too. I'm then thinking of taking another few months off over summer again, to allow for extended healing/fading, and then having another one or two session before Christmas, which I HOPE might see me on my way; but who knows. Just trying to take it one session at a time for now. I've found that setting targets isn't the best thing to day, when it comes to removal. You're body will work at it at its own pace, which which likely either be quicker or slower than you expected.
As ever, all the best to the rest of my tattoo removal family on here. It looks like this year is going to be exciting, what with the arrival of the Picoway over here! I know a couple of people have sessions lined up with very soon, which will be really interesting to see!
Bye for now.
Next Appointment Date Change
One of the things I struggle with is knowing how to calm down the redness that inevitably follows each of my treatments. I'm not talking about the first day or two after the laser, but in the weeks following. It seems as though my skin often stays quite angry, as in redness under the skin, way past the four week mark - and I wonder if this is specific to me or if other people deal with this and perhaps if they apply anything to the skin to reduce it? It's difficult to tell if it's redness from where the scabs have seperated and new skin is being built, or if its a little deeper down (or both). In the past I've used Bio Oil, but I think I've used it perhaps too early, and irritated the healing skin. I know Bio Oil is more intended for once the skin is more or less completely healed.
Does anybody have any 'wonder creams' or 'miracle lotions' that seem to work wonders on reducing post-laser redness and speed healing? Or is it a case of sticking to good old Aloe Vera gel and just weathering the storm?
I find it a real mental strain following a treatment when things look a lot worse before they get better.
Thanks all and enjoy your week.
So I'm due for another treatment on the 24th (next week), but I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it. I so desperately want this situation to end, but I can't help bit think Ive just made a real mess of things. I'm 8 sessions in, there is hyperpigmentation aplenty (you can seen particularly around the lettering), a lot of the skin is raised (albeit slightly) which is probably scarring, some parts of the tattoo have faded a lot, other parts remain stubborn and there is some lingering redness. I can feel the despair creeping back in as the weather begins to warm up a little, and I know I'm in for another summer of trying to keep myself covered up. It's no way to exist. I have a stag weekend in June which will involve a waterpark and I've been uncomfortable about that for weeks already, as I'll be fully on show.
I know that if I go for my treatment next week it'll likely just create more hyperpigmentation and redness and make the area look even more 'dirty', so I'm thinking I should just perhaps drop the whole laser thing for a while, maybe even for the rest of the year, and see what my body can do in terms of healing and fading. Then the other part of me thinks, no, I don't want to fall behind and miss a session and prolong this for longer than necessary. I had planned on taking six months off after my treatment next week, but when I stop and look at the tattoo - even now, over nine weeks since my last session, I can't help but think it might be counterproductive to treat it again and if I leave it alone it could well fade a lot more during the next couple of months.
I hate that my options are so limited and I hate even more that I put myself in this situation.
Sorry for the negative post, just feel like I had to get it out there. I really want this to be a success story, not just for me but for everyone else on here - to give hope, but man it's TOUGH.
Any words of advice would be great at this point in time.
It feels kind of good knowing that my skin isn't going to get battered again next week and look like hell for ages. I'm also comforted in knowing that my last treatment was pretty aggressive, so I should hopefully see it continue to gradually fade over the summer (and hopefully see the pigment sort itself out a little).
I want to try and put a skin care regimen in place for the summer to help address the scarring, redness and hyperpigmentation, and I now have time to research that and get it started sooner than planned. Im also going to try and find a decent concealer to help mask things a bit.
Thanks to those who helped inform the decision. There are some truly fantastic, caring people on here and I wish everyone a brilliant summer and ongoing success with your own removals. I'm going to take a little time away from RealSelf now to try and help shift my focus a bit from this thing, but I'll be sure to update probably in October, when we'll see how things are looking and get the ball rolling again. Hopefully at that stage I should be getting close, but I'm in this for as long as it takes now!
All the best for now.
The redness that was prevalent in my last updates seems to have calmed quite a bit. I used Aloe Vera gel morning and evening for a couple of weeks and it seemed to help.
I've recently started using Mederma advanced scar gel before bed to see if it can help flatten down some areas that are slightly raised (albeit very slightly). I'll let you know how that goes.
My next visit to the clinic is scheduled for October 6th. Im growing hopeful that I may only need two or three treatments more now, but I need to play smart and make sure I space them well apart, so if I can only fit two in the winter and then take another long break, then so be it.
On a side note, I did end up starting a mild antidepressant. I've regained some of my zest for life again, and whilst I still obsess over the tattoo daily, it doesn't have me in its clutches quite so much anymore. So things are gradually looking up!
I'll update again after my next treatment.
All the best.
Summers Winding Down...
Just another quick update. It's approaching 8 months since I last went under the laser and I've continued to notice slow but steady fading since then. As I mentioned in my last u
So like I was saying: noticed slow but steady fading of the remaining ink over the last few months. As I mentioned in my previous update, the whole area looks a lot less angry than it was, so the long break has been worth it.
The summer hasn't really been too much of a drag at all this year. Been in tshirts a lot more and generally in a better place than this time last year, about the whole situation. We're heading to Turkey for a week on Thursday where it's HOT. I'm armed with a good quality SPF 50 to apply to the area, as the last thing I want to do now is get it burnt! Will be taking good care of it.
Eager to get the remainder of the ink out now, and so looking forward to session 9 which is scheduled for 10th October.
I still anticipate 12 treatments in total to get my to a stage where I'll be happy to call it quits (my aim is 90%+ removal). So perhaps two or three over the winter and then one later next year to tidy up.
I hope everyone's enjoying what's left of the summer (we haven't had much of one here in the UK, to be fair!!).
I'll be sure to update how we get on at my next treatment in October.
All the best for now.
Back In The Saddle: Treatment 9
Wow, it was 9 months since my last treatment - that absolutely flew by.
Emily, my technician, was really happy with what has been happening during my break away from the laser and acknowledged how much it had faded and how it just generally looked in a better condition.
Today we dialled the power back down slightly to 10j/cm2 at 3mm spot. My previous treatment was with 12j/cm and was too aggressive, causing too much bleeding and, in turn, scabbing and redness that seemed to last for weeks. As you can see, we only targeted the darker areas of ink that remain as the remaining lighter areas continue to slowly improve by themself, and don't appear to contain any more ink.
We were getting a good 'snap' still, which was encouraging. I think me managed to get the majority of it, although it gets more and more tricky at each session as the ink gets progressively lighter and my damn sensitive skin turns red so quickly, making it harder to see.
I'll be heading back in February for what might be my last session. Emily thinks that one more treatment could be enough and to then allow my body to sort the rest out over the following months, but we'll see.
One interesting thing we did talk about was how I've come to terms with the fact the skin will never be completely 'clear' again - however, she told me that she's had clients come back and see her 2 or 3 years after their final treatment only to find no evidence whatsoever that a tattoo was there. So it's important to know that the state of your skin a couple of months after your final treatment isn't necessarily the final product, the body will keep working on for months and months afterwards. That was nice to hear!!
Anyway, hope everyone is doing good. I'll post again in a couple of months to let you know how things are looking!
Happy New Year
Just a quick update to wish you all a Happy New Year.
I hope the persistence is paying off for those who have been keeping their blogs on here updated for some time and welcome to those who have only joined recently.
I'm planning on a thorough treatment in February, which will be number 10, and I'm considering calling it my last (at least for a year or so). I want to see what my body can do in terms of clearing up what's left over a long period of time.
Tattoo removal works, it just takes time.
Gonna keep it short and sweet..
Had another session today, 4 months after my last. As you can see we only focused on what's left in terms of the darker stuff. Quite tricky now as its so faded - difficult to decipher what's what once we get going, but I'm happy with how it went. 3mm spot and back up to 12j. No bleeding but still a really good 'snap'.
Going to take 6 months and then decide if I want one more or not. I'll post an update before then though to let you know how the last of it is clearing.
That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter!!
All the best.
Very Quick Update
Two months since my last treatment. Healed nicely with just a tiny bit of redness lingering now and again when I exercise etc.
Very, very little ink left now. The shadow you can see in the picture is a mixture of a small amount of hyperpigmentation and remaining ink, both of which continue to improve month by month.
I'll either have one final treatment in the winter or leave it completely now and see if the rest fades by itself.
I'm using bio oil twice a day for the small amount of scarring and skin discolouration.
I think I've almost reached my goal of 90% removal. Excited to see it creep up a couple more percent in the coming months.
I'll update again in October/November time to let you know my final decision.
THE BEAST IS ALMOST DEFEATED.
Have a great summer everyone.
5 months post session 10
Just checking in!
Thought I'd take a couple of images in natural daylight outside. As you can see, very, very faded now! What's left appears to be some skin discolouration from the scarring, which seems to be slowly improving month by month. It's more noticeable in certain lights and at certain angles. I've thought about trying a micro derma-roller to see if it can flatten it out completely, but don't want to irritate it (anyone got any experience with these??)
The overall silhouette and shape of the tattoo is still somewhat visible, but without looking for it you probably wouldn't notice it.
I'm currently just using a plain moisturiser (for sensitive skin) before bed each night, that's it (not sure I even need to be, but can't hurt right?).
On a scale of 1-100 in terms of how much it bothers me now I'd say I'm at a 20 - when I was in the real thick of it all those months ago I'd say it must have gotten as high as a 90!!
I see there are a lot of new faces on here - sad to see some are really struggling. I hope those people can take some comfort from my journey. I don't consider myself finished yet but I've left behind all the anxiety and frustration that I was drowning in for a good while!
I may have one more treatment in the winter time to pick up a few tiny stray bits of ink, but part of me just wants to let it go now and call it a day with the laser. That area of my arm has taken enough of a beating and I think I'm about ready to cut my losses whilst I'm ahead. Besides, my wife and I are expecting our first baby around Christmas time, so my priorities will be changing big time soon!!
I'll check in again in around 6 months time to see how things are looking.
All the best for now.
Forgot to attach this...
One Last Treatment, Or Cut & Run
So it's been around 10 months since my last laser session. The skin colour continues to even out month by month and the contrast with the surrounding skin gets less and less. This is obviously fantastic but has brought out the remaining spots of ink, which are admittedly very few and far between. Right now I'm deciding on whether to have one final session on these remaining areas or call it a day and be thankful that I've managed to remove the tattoo so extensively. If I do have another session then the risk is a little bit of hyperpigmentation flaring up again (which I've been waiting so patiently to fade). On the other hand, it may just take one more session to eradicate these last few bits all together.
Whatever I do I won't decide till February, as I'm sticking to my guns on leaving it for an entire year.
I can't believe it's been 3.5 years since I first started my blog here. Time is definitely the best healer. Whilst I've come to terms with a very faint outline and some minor skin damage remaining, I feel like I have my arm back again, along with a very valuable life lesson under my belt.
I'll let you know what I decide in the next couple of months.
Happy Christmas :)