Black Tattoo Regret. Long and Expensive Journey Ahead.

Hello all. Like many of you, I had immediate...

Hello all. Like many of you, I had immediate tattoo regret merely hours after getting my tattoo done. It was supposed to be a gift to myself, but instead, it turned out to be the opposite. I'm still going through the stages of shock, disbelief, denial, and acceptance. I'm finding solace in the many similar stories here and for that I'm grateful.
Right now, I'm planning in complete removal with picosure, but I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of a cover if this wasn't feasible.
My tattoo was done in all black, with good steady fine line work. Lots of dark shading though (which I was kind of surprised with, in the end) which is one of the big reasons I want to erase this. My artist did a wonderful job, but I should have listened to my gut the few times I thought "wait maybe this isn't 100% what I wanted". I don't fault the artist, this is purely my screw up. And I need to own that. Thankfully, I can do something about it.
I hope in the next coming months, I can document good progress of my removal journey and we can all laugh about it later.
Hard lessons to be learned, for sure.
Currently I have 2 consultations next week, hopefully to start my first removal next month when the tattoo is 6 weeks old.
If anyone can give me any estimations or what your thoughts on my chances of removal are, please tell me. I'd love any support, advice, anything!

Another angle

It's a beautiful image, really! But it turned out way darker and way bigger than I expected.

First consultation down

I had my first consultation today with a doctor who owns many laser medical spa clinics.
He quoted me $800/session, or $4500 for unlimited sessions until complete removal. Holy @#$@ batman, that's a lot of money!! Still a contender though.

Pros: lots of latest technology - he has the picosure with boost, also has q-switch (which he says he rarely uses anymore, but it's there), doc confident we can remove completely - great personality and reviews on other sites, willing to start early - within the next 1 or 2 weeks....when the tattoo will only be about a month old. close in proximity.

Cons: doesn't specialize in tattoo removals, busy office - may rush through treatments?, EXPENSIVE, had lots of in-progress treated patients, but not many patients who completed treatments.

Will keep this place in the running though......will update after more consultations!

Consultation 2

I had my second consultation yesterday at Ink on Ink off in Cleveland. Dr. Miller was amazing - she was straightforward, informative and sympathetic. I liked her immediately, and the office manager Sydney was extremely responsive and great from the get-go.

Pros: Picosure, also a Q-switch if I have unresponsive ink, the medical director is great. Tattoo removals are all they do. Great reviews from current patients. As far as cost, they have a current Groupon deal going on, and I was able to get a package price for unlimited treatments ($3200) which was a much better deal than the last place.

Cons: It's a 2-hour drive each way for me.

I ended up paying 50% for the unlimited package. I will start in a month, when the tattoo is fully healed. My tattoo has gotten much lighter than the first picture, I sloughed off a lot of the ink. Sometimes I look at the tattoo and think I can possibly live with it, but it's just way too big and too dark. I'm hoping to get 3 treatments done before summer and achieve dramatic fading!!!

2 weeks old!

Thankfully I sloughed off a lot of the ink, so it looks much lighter than it did initially. It's now almost healed. It's still too big and too dark! Ugh what was I thinking!

DeScribe patch for use during laser removal treatments

So there is an interesting development in laser tattoo removals.
My doctor at Ink On Ink Off sent me this link via email and it sounds intriguing: http://onlightsciences.com/
It's a patch that is impregnated with PFD (perfluorodecalin, a hydrocarbon...an oil). As I understand from searching the literature, it reduces the formation of white patches that occur after an area is zapped, giving it optical clearance to pass the laser through it again. Apparently this also has claims of lessened healing times and increased comfort.

If you google "perfluorodecalin", you can find more information on it. Here is the scholarly article that was published 3 years ago describing the effects of PFD during laser tattoo removals: http://www.aslms.org/professional/documents/EditorsChoiceLSMFeb45.2.pdf

PFD is available from chemical labs (you can order bottles of it online!), but I'd be apprehensive that those products are not tested and not medical-grade. I also doubt that the doctor would use those during the treatment as well (liability, etc). But the DeScribe patch is available now, which IS indicated for medical use.

I went down the rabbit hole with this one. It does sound promising, and my doctor was hopeful that using this during my treatment would mean that she can make multiple passes with the Picosure (and therefore reduce the number of treatments needed!!! Faster tattoo removal? YES PLEASE!) and potentially ameliorate the healing process. The only thing is, the DeScribe patches are pretty expensive, and they're pretty small. They're also one-time use only, so we can't reuse the same patch. She's in the process of finding out how many boxes we're going to need for my tattoo.

The research on it is pretty limited, but if this can do what we think it can do, then it can totally change the tattoo removal game. My doctor has not used it in her practice yet, but I honestly wouldn't mind being her first. Will update as I hear more from her.

1st session done!

1st session was done 2 days ago.
The pain level was not bad. Bacon grease splatters are probably the most accurate way to describe a similar kind of pain. I had premedicated the area with lidocaine 4% cream and covered it with some plastic wrap during my 2 hour drive.
The doc had ordered me a box of the PFD patch and we started using them. It was amazing that the patch prevented the white frosting and no obstruction for the laser, so the doctor went over all areas at least twice with the picosure.
Most of the light shading is gone, and some of the solid lines are starting to break up. There are small areas in which the ink has completely faded. Awesome! The doc is pretty convinced in the value of using the PFD patches, and I'm excited that we're able to do multiple passes at each session.
I was hopeful that the healing process will be easier with the use of PFD and I'm still skeptical about this. The healing, of course, is the most difficult part, and I ended up with some giant blisters. From all accounts, blisters are a good thing and a sign that I am going to have great ink clearance, so I won't complain. Oh and I wasn't prepared for how much my arm was going to swell up. My arm was at one point about 50% bigger than my other arm!
The treated area doesn't really hurt, it's just uncomfortable. The entire area has been laser-burned so it will take time. The wound was covered up with Aquaphor, and I am also using Biafine. Taking my beta-glucan supplements twice a day as well.
It certainly is not a walk in the park, and I'm sad that I have to subject my skin to this kind of torture. Oh, one thing that I thought was interesting during the procedure was that as soon as it started, I started tasting metal in the back of my mouth. I mentioned this to the doctor and she was not surprised. I would like to know how common this is? I googled it and there were a few accounts online of similar experiences.
Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the results I've gotten so far. I will post pictures when everything is healed up (hopefully soon).

Aftercare

So I knew that the healing phase post-treatment was no breeze, but I wasn't prepared for how much damage my skin was going to suffer. Since the pictures I had loaded the last time, my treated area decided to blister ALL OVER. The areas that hadn't blistered before decided to up and mutiny from the other layers of the skin.
As for my pain and comfort level, day 3 was the worst. It went one level beyond bad sunburn and I was getting to a point where I was wondering if I should be worried.
Up to this point, I had been applying Aquaphor and covering with non-absorbent bandages, but I had bought some Biafine from Europe, so I decided why not try? Its active ingredient is trolamine, which is a topical analgesic. So I slathered it on and went to sleep, hoping I would be more comfortable. I kept it uncovered, oozing blisters be damned.
I woke up the next morning and surprisingly, the blisters had become much more tame and most of them had deflated, and the entire area was still well-moisturized and supple. And it wasn't as nearly as uncomfortable.
I'm not one to easily rave about products (a medication, no less), but I'm really happy that I bought this. It's not easily available in the US, so I had to buy mine from eBay from a reputable European seller.
Biafine is used for burns, surgical wounds and radiation patients, so this is right up our alley. I plan to use this religiously post-treatment during the healing phase. After the skin has healed, I will start using topical beta-glucans. Review on that product to come!

Treatment 2

It's been a crazy past few months, with a funeral and an overseas trip and family events, so I had to postpone my 2nd treatment a few times.
Finally, I had my 2nd treatment 2 days ago (10 weeks after my first). I covered my tattoo with lidocaine cream again for my 2-hr drive up. This time though, the doctor informed me that she turned up the power and I definitely felt it! The pain was a little more unpleasant than last time and I was happy when my hour-long session was over. She went over all areas 3 times with the PFD patch.
I slapped an ice pack on the treated area and held it there with the adhesive tape and it felt really good. I think it may have reduced the swelling as well, but I can't be sure. The entire area blistered again like last time though. This time, I started applying Biafine cream on the treated area right away and I think it kept the pain at bay (the stinging sunburn pain that I felt last time), as well as keeping the skin supple and moisturized. I love that thing, and recommend it highly.
I can see through the blisters that there are some more areas where the ink just "lifted off" like the doctor says. The funny thing is, when she would switch out the PFD patch to use a new one, we could literally see ink that came off on the patch (along with some skin cells). A sign of good things to come, I hope. Pictures to come, once these gross blisters get manageable!

Pictures post session 1

This is the side by side comparison of no treatment vs 3 weeks post session 1!
Ink On Ink Off

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