Large Foot Tattoo, Qswitch and Pico - Washington, DC

Hey all, I just discovered this site, so I'm a lot...

Hey all, I just discovered this site, so I'm a lot farther along in my treatment than some folks here. I've experienced many of the same emotions you all write about: depression, anxiety, sensing that people are judging my bad tattoo, even people who should be open-minded about that sort of thing, and wondering what the hell I was thinking / psychoanalyzing what was going through my head and why, when I got this thing almost ten years ago.

If I didn't immediately regret the tattoo, it's cuz it simply hadn't sunk in yet. It's on my foot and ankle, so it looks better in some shoes than others, but honestly I think it's pretty objectively unattractive. Even if the tattoo art itself isn't horrible, it would have worked better in other spots. (It's probably worth saying that I have several other tattoos, and for the most part I like all of them, and they're all easy to hide; this one on the other hand is pretty in-your-face, and just not on par with my style.)

Four years ago I had my first session with the Qswitch laser, and the aesthetician who did it looked 16...I did not have great confidence in her, but I know the doctor she works under well. My skin had an allergic reaction to the red ink, so she prescribed a topical steroid. I also didn't take the healing seriously enough, and didn't ice it or elevate my leg enough, so I certainly didn't make that mistake again. My skin is still scared from where the red ink caused allergic reactions. It looks like little ice pick scars. In the grand scheme of things, not the end of the world. My foot was swollen for literally a month (I was between jobs at the time, otherwise I don't know how I would have kept my job, if I had been working.) I lost lots of muscle during that time, and consequently, have gained some weight. In fact, I seem to gain a little weight each time I have a treatment, due to the down time. Not only can I not work out while the tattoo is healing from each session, but the forced couch time gets me out of the swing of working out, and encourages laziness. Obviously it is a work of will power to get myself back to the gym once the skin begins healing, and sometimes I do better than others with it.

One of the best tips I have for people to promote healing after each treatment is to soak the skin in salt water. I take a large pot (I want my whole foot and lower leg to fit into it, so I bought a large pot specifically for this purpose, and only use it for this) and boil water, so that the water is sterile, and I add several handfuls of epsom salt. Salt helps promote healing of the skin, and decreases swelling. I can definitely see my skin healing much faster when I spent a lot of time soaking with saltwater, as opposed to when I don't.

After my bad experience at a previous place, I took a long time off, thinking that removal might be impossible.... then I consulted with another laser place, and decided to work on just small portions of the black ink, to take it piece by piece. After one or two sessions of hitting only the black ink on the lower portion of the foot, I got the gumption to start working on the whole tattoo again. I've had 6 sessions with the Qswitch lasers (4 that were on the whole foot/2 only on the black ink at the bottom), and then I found out about pico. Now I go to a place that uses PicoWay, and I am seeing great results.

My skin is still bloody and bruised, but in a few days, I'll share a photo to show my progress and how greatly it has faded. Even though there is surely still ink there, it's *so* much lighter than it used to be, so now I feel I can get back to activities which I sadly avoided (yoga... swimming.... wearing flipflops or going barefoot in the sun) for so long, and feel much more confident in my own skin / not feel like the tattoo is drawing tons of negative attention.

I decided to basically dedicate myself to the treatments hard core last year, meaning throughout the summer, I wrapped the foot before going swimming, and other than that, I almost completely avoided sun exposure, and just wore sneakers all summer. I didn't want the skin to be sun exposed, as that can interfere with treatment. It's sad that I denied myself some of my favorite summer activities, but those activities also made me a lot more uncomfortable when I felt like I was drawing negative attention. This year, I'll have one more session before summer begins, and then I'll let myself enjoy summer ~ then if I need a few more treatments in the fall, I'll continue working on it then, but I'm not going to work on the tattoo during the summer; I'm going to just let myself enjoy it, and try not to let any remaining ink bother me.

Good luck to everyone going through this journey. It's crazy to consider how much time, money and thought I've spent on this, but it truly makes me feel so much better to have it fading......

one week post 9th session

6 days after my 3rd pico session (and 5 qswitch sessions). it's healing and i'm feeling pretty positive... i hope a lot of ink disappears when these blisters & bruises heal.

Two weeks out

I'm breaking out in hives, behind the knee near my foot, and at my elbows, various spots... I break out in hives somewhat easily, but this is probably an allergic reaction to the ink. I had a bad allergic reaction to red ink in the past, so my recent Dr. has given me ~4 days' worth of steroid cream to apply to the tattoo after each pico session, but they didn't give it to me this time, and perhaps as a result, I am breaking out in hives. I guess this is how my immune system deals with breaking down these metals and pthalates (!) in tattoo ink.... I should be staying more hydrated than I am. But I'm trying to do some lymphatic massage to help my body calm down. Spoke with my doctor today and she said as long as it seems to be getting better, it should be alright. What a crazy process. But worthwhile. I think I'm getting good fading! I read that apple cider vinegar helps with bruises, so I soaked my skin in some water mixed with some acv. I made some detoxifying teas... milk thistle and all sorts of stuff... looking forward to having this process being behind me, but exciting that I'm doing it.

Four weeks out, four weeks til next session to go

Well, my body has broken out in a few mild hives around sensitive lymph node areas, such as the wrists, elbows, shoulders... and some large hives behind the left knee, over the past few weeks, but it seems to have mostly cleared up. Clearly my body is wrestling with the metals in these inks being released into the body. The body is not meant to deal with large doses of heavy metals, and from reading a few articles (and just common sense), what's in these tattoo inks is probably not very beneficial material! Hopefully my body does its best... i've tried to eat lots of fruits and veggies, natural anti-inflammatories such as ginger and garlic, have tried to stay hydrated, and have made a few trips to the spa, to help my body stay as healthy as possible.

Other than that, the healing is going well... of course there's clearly still plenty of ink there. But much less than there once was.

Four weeks til my next session, then I will likely be taking the summer of from removal treatments, to let myself enjoy the summer sun.

4th pico session (plus 5 or 6 qswitch sessions)

Latest session went well. the head doctor of the practice did it. lots of response from the laser. hurt a lot, but the staff was great at distracting me from it with pleasant talk.

6 weeks after 10th session

Healing is going well. I used calendula cream, arnica, and vitamin e oil to help heal the skin, including occasionally soaking my foot in a large pot of water with vitamin e oil. I've been doing bikram yoga which I think is helping to speed up the healing process. Also, I notice in the mirror during yoga that the tattoo can barely be seen in the mirror -- which makes me feel a lot less anxious about it. The tattoo is clearly still there... but soo much less than what it was. All told, I'm so glad I've been doing the removal treatments. I'm taking the summer off from laser sessions, so that I can enjoying the many activities which summer offers which comes along with sun exposure -- swimming, walking barefoot, sunbathing, etc -- which are also activities which I have avoided for a few summers, sadly, due to anxiety about the tattoo being seen. The red and black have faded really impressively -- and now I'm thinking about focusing on the green. I've now done three PicoWay sessions (picoway is supposed to be best with reds and blacks) and I'm thinking after the summer I may seek out an office that has the PicoSure, so that I can address the greens, which are now more apparent (the reds are more or less faded enough to seem like a bruise or just a slight change in the skin, if it weren't for that conspicuous green!)

Still 6 weeks post 10th

Just adding more photos.

Another collage photo

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