Uhmm... a painful, but actually bare-able experience.
This is not something that I ever thought I would be doing. I'm a person that (eventually) wants a full sleeve on my right arm. But the other day, while apply for a few jobs, I noticed that more than half of them specify that the applicant could not have any visible tattoos. I was in deep trouble since I had a tattoo on my forearm. I know that my parents have told me that I should never get a tattoo that is visible, but being the way-ward teen that I was I just brushed them off. I am now paying the price at the age of 22.
The tattoo was a spur of the moment idea, as some are, and now that I am wanting to go and find myself a full-time job rather than continuing with my part-time job I am struggling to find a job where a requirement does not specify that I cannot have visible tattoos. Although I really like the look of the tattoo it has to go.
The tattoo was only 5 weeks old when I went for my first removal session. I was told that because the tattoo was fairly new, it would probably be a little bit more difficult to remove - but I am up for the challenge I guess.
My first session experience:
When I booked my appointment, I was told to come in an hour before in order for the therapist to put some anaesthetic cream over the tattooed area, which I did.
I arrived early, had the cream put on, and then sat with a cup of tea and waited for my appointment. I did not feel the cream's effects on my skin while I was waiting for my skin to absorb it, but I'm too nervous to try doing the laser treatment without the cream.
Going into the treatment room, the therapist was very sweet, and she had me sit on the bed. She took a picture of the tattoo for the salon's before and after records. She then proceeded to ask me how high my pain threshold is, and I have a feeling that it is rather high, and so I tell her so. Apparently this is a good thing because then she will be able to set the laser quite high for the first treatment - the higher the laser, the better.
The therapist gave me a pair of protective goggles and put a pair on herself. This is very important - the beam of light can damage your eyes if you do not protect them.
I childishly asked her if the treatment was going to hurt, and the response I received from her was "all I can say is no pain, no gain"... Oh gee, uhm I'm not sure whether or not I should say thank you... Needless to say, that did not make me feel great at all, but I wanted to do this.
I thought that the treatment would take a while, but it literally took 10 minutes. The laser beam is a red colour and the machine looks almost like a futuristic gun. The therapist positioned the laser beam over the lines of the tattoo and she basically fires the "gun". The pulses feel like a elastic band being snapped over the same skin surface constantly. Painful, but I could bare it. It feels very similar to the actual tattooing process.
During the process, I smelt something real odd and mentioned it to the therapist and she explained in detail that all I was smelling was the reaction that the laser beam was having on the tattoo pigmentation and that it was not the smell of burning skin.
Immediately after the treatment, the tattoo feels really warm, like a really bad sunburn, and you are actually told to treat it very similarly. The therapist gave me a few tips on what I would expect during the healing process over the next 2 weeks, and then she recommended a healing cream that would assist in the healing process. Every laser clinic will offer you a different product and that is why I will not tell you what I received - but I will tell you that it is very important to ask your therapist about aftercare and if she recommends any products to assist in healing.
For the rest of the day, the treated area was just sensitive and it actually just felt like sunburn.
Below are pictures from my experience.
My before's and after's and a few durings: 🙂
The picture below was taken on the day that I had the tattoo done. You can see that the tattoo is still red and swollen. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the completely healed tattoo because I had it for too short a period.
The picture below was taken a few minutes after my first treatment. As you can see, the tattoo lines have faded but they do return to normal colour very quickly. The healing period per treatment takes up to 2 weeks, but the next treatment can only happen 4 weeks after that. After the 2 weeks of healing is when you will see the effects of the treatment.
My second session experience:
The 3 pictures below were taken after my second laser treatment. The treatment was done 6 weeks after the first one in order to let the skin heal completely. For this treatment, the therapist set the laser at a higher setting (I'm not entirely sure what the word is) and then she zapped at the tattoo. It was a lot more painful than the last time and I do assume that it will get progressively worse because the laser is set even higher every time. The tattoo blistered almost immediately this time as you can see in the pictures below. If you look closely at the pictures you can see a slight bit of fading in a few of the lines. Its only going to get better. 🙂
The first picture is about 1 hour after the treatment and you can already see the blistering.
The second picture is at the same tim as the first but it has been taken at an angle where you can clearly see the blisters.
And the third is just before I went to sleep on the day of the treatment. The blistering was very bad, but after 2 days it went away.
My third session experience:
The pain during this treatment was pretty unbelievable. I held onto a stress ball and squeezed it so tight that it was as flat as a pancake. The settings are obviously turned up higher for this treatment just like they were for the last one, and how they will be for the next few. With this treatment, you could actually see the skin split as the laser hit it. It formed blisters almost immediately and was sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but I am seeing good results and the therapist is also super happy with what she is seeing.
In the first picture you can see that I had just removed the dressing that I had put on at the salon so that the blood didn't seep through my shirt. This time, it bled a lot. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this treatment but the blood shocked me.
In the second picture, I just zoomed in on the blistering for you to see it. The tattoo stayed red for 3 days, and I just applied Bioderma Cicabio Cream to it.
My Fourth Session Experience:
This session was definitely not as painful as my third session. I expected it to be slightly more painful than the previous because the laser is turned to a higher setting every time. There was a lot less bleeding after this session as well, which, again, I am grateful for.
The first picture is in the aesthetic centre immediately after the removal session.
The second and third picture were taken a few hours later where you can see the blisters that have formed.
My Fifth Session and more:
To date, I have had 5 laser sessions, 2 Fraxels, and 3 micro-needling treatments. The areas of the tattoo that kept forming blisters after a laser treatment are the areas that have now formed keloids. The problem with a keloid is that it encapsulates the ink and the laser won't pick it up, plus it leaves an ugly scar. So what we have now done is treatments that help with scar revision. These treatments not only help correct the keloiding but will also help break open the encapsulated ink so that the laser will pick them up again.
I am trying to get rid of the keloiding before I carry on with the laser treatments. I am very happy with the results from the scar correction so far but I feel that I can do more before doing the next laser treatment.
In the first picture you can see how the micro-needling treatment heals. The area that is flaking is the area that we concentrated the needles on. This area has keloided the most severely and the area that I want gone. In the second picture, the tattoo has healed completely and I am just waiting a few more weeks to do the next scar revision treatment. Once that is done I will see what the scar looks like and decide whether or not to start treating the tattoo with the laser or to do more scar revision.
The next 2 pictures were after a Fraxel treatment. I am unsure of which one but this is just here now to show you what that tattoo looked like immediately after a Fraxel treatment.
The Next Scar Revision Treatment
To date I have had 5 Laser Treatments, 2 Fraxel Laser Treatments, and 4 Micro Needling Treatments.
The pictures below were taken after another micro needling session. I thought that it would be helpful for you to show you the process of micro needling healing post treatment. The depth of the micro needling treatment was done at 2mm below the surface of the skin. Now for those of you who don't know this, this is the depth that the tattoo is placed underneath the skin. For tattoo removal, this is the best depth to remove it at
The first row of pictures depict what the area looks like immediately after the micro needling treatment. The micro channels that the needles create draw blood and platelets from the dermis and that is the fluid that is seen in the first 2 images. This fluid is rich in nutrients and is important to the healing process so it is left on and I had to go home like that. The third picture is what the area looked like after washing the dried blood away that evening.
The 2 pictures below depict the healing process after 2 days. The first image is the day after the treatment. I used a product called Phyto Correct from SkinCeuticals, which acts as an anti-inflammatory. This product is absolutely amazing! the second image is day number 2 after the treatment. I applied the Phyto Correct every time that I remembered to do so and the inflammation had decreased exponentially by the next day as compared to my previous treatments.
Apparently the Phyto Correct by SkinCeuticals is amazing for any form of inflammation. So those people that suffer with Rosacea, inflamed acne, and anyone that has had an aesthetic treatment done will benefit from this product. Absolutely incredible.
The picture below is a week after the treatment. This is the peeling that will happen to the skin once is has healed. it is important not to pick this before it is ready to come off. picking at it can cause scarring, which is the total opposite of what you want to achieve.
Hope that I have helped you in your decision to remove your tattoo or changed your mind about getting one. I have a few but don't get me wrong, if you are doubting a tattoo... Do NOT get it... just DON'T.
Please remember to ask the salon or aesthetic centre if they use a Q-Switch Nd Yag Laser. This is the laser that is being used on me and is specifically designed to removed the pigment in tattoo ink.
If you have a super awesome product and would like me to review it, contact me with more information about your super awesome product and I will get in touch!