My Experience Lightening and Removing My Tattoo at Home
I wrote this article detailing the process I went through after getting a tree tattoo that I wasn't very happy with. I also had an older barbed wire tattoo that I wanted to be gone.
I researched every possible means to remove or lighten them both. I wanted to find something that I could handle and that wouldn't scar horribly. I wasn't sure what was going to work, but I tried a lot of different things.
You can see pictures of what I tried below. In the end, lasering the tattoo was the most effective thing for me.
What I Tried
I started using these a few days after getting the tree tattoo.
- Neostrata 10% Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cream
I thought using a cream every day that exfoliates might help fade the barbed wire so I started using it on that. Plus it had 10% glycolic acid which will fade a tattoo.
At only 10% this might not even work well enough to see any sort of change, but you never know. I started putting it on the tree tattoo as well to try and lighten it.
- Skin Doctors SD White
This contains emblica which has the same effect as hydroquinone which is a skin lightener. Emblica is safer to use. I am fairly certain that some of the official tattoo removing creams contain emblica. This process could also take some time as results may not show for weeks after you begin.
I started with those two products while I was still researching other options. Exfoliating with glycolic acid and lightening with emblica seemed like a good start, but I would not be seeing fast results. I would need a much higher dose of glycolic acid to see fast results. I went shopping again, but I continued to use these products.
- Soluver Wart Treatment (20% Salicylic Acid)
I figured I'd need to open the skin before using this as the instructions say to scrub off the top portion of your wart and then apply the salicylic acid, meaning it needed to get under the skin to work. 20% salicylic acid will burn like crazy when put on an open wound. Keep that in mind!
- Three Pumice Stones
I needed a way to open up my skin so the wart treatment could get under it. Yes this hurt. It wasn't so much the rubbing away of the skin but applying the acid into it that will burn your brains out.
I only rubbed away a small portion of my barbed wire, as a test. I plan on doing this slowly, in small spots. This is unlike going to a dermatologist who will use a sander on your entire tattoo during your dermabrasion tattoo removal appointment.
As I researched more I found out some other helpful information.
I learned that Vaseline is horrible on new tattoos and will draw the ink out, so of course I had to get some. I had no idea if it would effect my barbed wire tattoo since it was older. But I reasoned that if my barbed wire had a wound in it, it might draw the ink out since the new tattoo is just a really a big wound.
It is also not a good idea to smother your new tattoo. It's best to keep it dry and let it heal on it's own. I was doing everything in reverse here.
- Polysporin Triple Action
This is another big no no to put on new tattoos so of course I put it on my tree, along with the small parts of barbed wire I used a pumice stone on.
This was probably my craziest experiment. I put this on a small portion of my barbed wire and left it there, and would put on salicylic acid afterwards. When it was dry I would add Polysporin and Vaseline and cover it.
Then I let it air out and form a scab. I had no idea if Nair was actually doing anything while it was on my skin. I couldn't feel anything. I only felt something when I took it off. Then I realized it had indeed burned my skin.
I've also started trying hydrogen peroxide to lighten at least the tree tattoo, and I've seen major results. I, of course, cannot pinpoint what exactly is working and what isn't. It could be a combination or mainly one or two things. I have stopped the dermabrasion and the Nair burning.
I had a laser tattoo removal consult to go to during my third week after the tree tattoo, and wanted my arm clear enough in case I wanted to get anything done. I might actually just get the barbed wire lasered off.
We did a few spots today to see how well I would deal with the pain, and it's ok! So some of it is already in the process of going bye bye. As for the tree, I'd never be able to pay for that to be removed, I am planning on adding light, interesting colors to it to brighten it and have it not be so black and fierce.
I will continue the creams on the tree but as for the barbed wire, it's gonna be lasered.
Photos From the Third Week
Two Days After a Small Laser Session and Three Weeks After Getting the Tree Tat
I do believe this portion of the barbed wire is practically gone after one treatment. If it's that easy to get rid of it, I'm ecstatic! How does it feel? Like nothing really. It's a small area, and I can't say I have even noticed any pain. Easy!
I'm still trying to lighten the tree up as much as I can at this point. I did a round of salicylic acid which lightly scabbed up the portion of the tree that I worked on. I'm thinking about getting a portion of the tree removed by laser as well.
Four Weeks After Tree Tattoo and the Second Laser Session
I had my second laser session done, and this one hurt bad!
She did a larger area of the barbed wire. You have to try to remember to breathe during this, but I couldn't. My whole body was stiff and I didn't breathe the whole time. It was almost like going to the dentist.
When it's done it's fine, but during? WOW. This won't stop me from continuing my quest! I have one more section of barbed wire to do! And then I start on the tree!
Early Results From 1st Laser Session
I am pretty amazed at how much lighter this section of barbed wire is, after only a few weeks of one laser session. I definitely won't need many treatments here.
I have decided to laser off that entire branch right next to it as well. Without that there it'll be a little more simple, and I'll also be taking off a bunch of branches all over and flowers.
I continue to attempt to lighten the entire tree at home, but I have to stop on the areas I'm going to get the laser on. But I always work on the parts I can work on, when I can. If I can at least lighten it as much as possible before the laser, I'll hopefully need less treatments on the tree.
Early Results From Second Laser Session
This part of my barbed wire has lightened considerably and still has a long time to go to lighten more. I am very happy with results after just one laser session.
I will probably need two sessions in total over all the barbed wire and I still need to do the bottom of my arm and for that I bought some Emla which is a numbing cream, because I know that is going to be painful!
Third Laser Session, This Time on the Tree
The pain getting this part done was nothing compared to my old barbed wire! I was very pleased with that to say the least. I really have no idea how well it will lighten as it is a brand new tattoo, but I really wanted this part removed along with all the little flowers.
I'm going for a less busy look but I might even be moving towards removing the entire tree now. I'm still not happy at all with it. The only part I like is a tiny little butterfly that I don't feel the urge to remove. I'm glad I'm getting this far!
It's usually every two weeks that I get a section done. The healing process is nothing to complain about and basically this whole process is easy and quick with fast results.
Update After Lasering on Tree
It's been slow going but I am really happy with what I have gotten done so far. Here is an updated picture of the part of the tree that I had lasered. I am so surprised that it is as light as it is now, being a brand new tattoo and all. I still use all my creams but never on freshly lasered areas. I'm still exfoliating and lightening.
Healing from this one has been the hardest! I have never been so itchy in all my life. The other areas that I got done never itched this bad. I still can't complain about pain, but I can now complain of being itchy!
I am really beginning to hope that I do not decide to get rid of the entire tree. I think with enough 'tweaking' I will like it. The barbed wire needs to be 100% gone, the back of the tree, and lots of branches and flowers. Only then will I really know.
After all my experimentation, it was the laser that got the tattoo off as much as it has. Nothing else really worked. I might cover up what is left of this tree with something else as my arm scars are showing again now. Anyway I am very amazed at the progress!
Update One Year Later: Laser Works
I have not been able to come to terms with this tattoo. I dislike it still (a lot!) and want it gone. Above is the top portion of the tree done. Honestly, I can't say anything bad about the results I've had so far with the laser.
Yes it hurts to get it done but the healing process is amazingly easy for me. The only thing I can complain about here is the itching! It's practically unbearable, but I deal with it and try not to scratch at all because I don't want scarring.
And that's another wonderful thing about laser, there is no scarring! Your skin heals up perfectly fine! Soon I will be getting the bottom half done, and then the barbed wire. Eventually my upper arm will be a clean slate, and I will probably keep it that way! I do still want my nice feminine tree, but not there.