Impulsively, I got a tattoo around three years ago and pretty much hated it instantly. I was with a group of friends and wanted to get another tattoo as I had previously just gotten a tiny butterfly on my wrist and had the tattoo adrenaline going. I just didn’t pick wisely the second time around…
I don’t actually have any before images of the tattoo as I deleted most of them years ago because it just bummed me out but I do have pictures of the after, which will highlight how important is to seek qualified and knowledgeable tattoo removalists. What I thought would be Rhianna – style stars along my wrist bone and slightly up the arm turned into a mess that just wasn’t “me”. The next weekend I thought by adding more to the design it would help me like it better, alas it did not. I was now left with a bigger tattoo to cover or remove.
Here is a shot of the after but please read on to see how I got to this point.
I started researching laser tattoo removal about two days after I had the tattoo inked and had my first consultation at a clinic three weeks later. In my research I found a YAG laser works best for tattoo removal and as my ink was short black lines with no solid ink, red or green pigments, I had a reasonably easy tattoo to remove. Scarring is common but with this specific laser, good aftercare while keeping out of the sun, it can be avoided. I read many horror stories about skin being burnt and keloid scarring developing (described on Wikipedia but is basically a hardened raised scar) but this didn’t set me back.
During the laser treatment, with each zap the ink is shattered inside of you and during the next few weeks, passes through your body as normal waste. Which sounds kind of gross but I think, kind of crazy too! After each session, which you can ask to apply or inject a numbing agent, a nourishing cream such as Bepanthen is applied and wrapped to protect. Each session took me about two weeks to fully recover from; first the area is red and itchy, blisters then form for a few days then the drying up and healing begins. Each removal session is advised to be spaced six weeks apart to avoid lasering over unhealed skin and giving the skin a chance to recover each time.
Depending on the tattoo, it can between six and ten treatments to remove completely but this also depends on whether it was a professional tattoo or a DIY home tattoo and whether the tattoo is older or nice and fresh. Professional tattoos have ink injected much deeper than home jobs therefore require more treatments to penetrate and remove effectively. Older tattoos are said to be easier to remove, but I can’t comment on that obviously!
Here is the low down on how I fared removing this mistake. Unfortunately the first clinic I went to (which shall remain nameless) showcased and advertised their ‘tattoo removal before and afters using a tattoo removal laser’ but after four sessions and little fading, they proceeded to tell me ‘maybe the reason you haven’t had real results is because we use an IPL laser’. Um what?!
Upon leaving the fourth session they referred me to a different salon ‘which may help me better’. I researched, whilst fuming inside, and found the second skin clinic, Laserway on Davey in Hobart Tasmania, actually had a specific tattoo removal laser – the joy!
For my appointment, I drove the three hours to the clinic and was astounded how much fading occurred in just one session. The staff were so knowledgeable and friendly and really helped me through the shitty situation. I cannot recommend Laserway on Davey in Hobart TAS enough for any treatments! I also had a treatment in New York whilst travelling and had an amazing result with their laser but it did set me back $850… which hurt as much as the laser!
All in all, I’ve had 10 treatments and feel I have completed all the ink removal but have been left with raised scarring along the tattoo design which I have been told is a product of using an IPL laser and the massive blisters that formed whilst using these. I have read that the bigger blisters you have from the laser, the better the ink removal is but please do not pop these yourself, let them do it naturally or the risk of scarring is increased.
I am looking into treatments which are available for the raised skin scarring I have left over currently but as the ink is gone, I am not too fussed if I don’t get around to it. As you can see from the pictures posted, I have since had a little love heart inked on a small spot that had a touch of left over ink remaining and believe me, I do not recommend having a tattoo applied over damaged skin – ouch! But I like it.
I hope that if you are thinking about having laser tattoo removal I have given you a little bit of guidance and as always, please feel free to ask or email me with any questions you may have – I would love to avoid my situation happening with anyone else.
Have you also had laser tattoo removal, share with me your experience in the comments!