Tattoo Removal: Another Permanent Change
Bzzz. Tattoo. Zap. No tattoo.
Jimmy Buffett could not have said it better: "it's a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling." My tattoo removal nurse told me about this lovely quote the last time I went in for a session. We hadn't really talked about my tattoo before - it was pretty much the first time someone had seen my tattoo and not asked what it said. It was refreshing. I had gotten used to strangers touching my shoulder, asking me what it said, and saying how beautiful it was. I really did not want that anymore. I really didn't want this permanent reminder of fleeting temporary feelings from college... anymore.
I wanted to get the best deal, per se, without compromising my health. Honestly, who knows what lasting effects I will have from using laser technology! I could end up growing a third arm in twenty years due to excessive lasering (I've had laser hair removal in the past *silky smooth*). BUT, I'm willing to take the risk!
I did as much research as the next person and decided not to try any tattoo removal creams and also decided not to use the laser tattoo shop on the shady side of town. I opted for a suggestion from a friend. She had a very colorful sleeve of a lucky cat and the tattoo had substantially faded from it's originally color since starting laser tattoo removal. Perfect! I was sold.
I started off with purchasing 6 laser treatments. My nurse told me that it shouldn't take more than 9 to remove my tattoo. She even said that it was better that it was completely black - the only problem I may run into is that because my tattoo is still fairly new (2 years old) that it may be harder to remove (i.e. more treatments). This detail was not enough to deter me. The cost hurt a little, though, not as much as the treatments. Six treatments = $620. More than half a grand less than a thousand (talking about it in these terms humbles me). Charge it!
Another carefree tattoo-ed college girl!
...or ME! This is the tattoo in it's original glory - dark black and basking in the sun before it knew the power of a laser. Little did it know that despite how much I loved it, that one day I would want to kill it. Sounds like some of my relationships... interesting...
Now, besides just showing up to my appointments I actually have to prepare for the excruciating pain. The first thing I have to do is ice down the tattoo with a plain ice pack. This takes about 5 minutes. I'm already a cold-natured person, so this is hard enough as it is. Then you get to put on the grand-daddy of all ice packs - because apparently, ice gets colder. This ice pack makes the fluid under my skin feel like it's crystallizing. It's like bits of glass have formed and are having a party underneath my skin. I'm positive that if this ice pack stayed on any longer than it had to, the nurse would be able to chip away the tattoo along with half of my shoulder.
The nurse then hands me a really awesome hybrid pair of sunglasses/goggles (sunoggles?), and starts lasering away. Now, before I go into what it feels like - I feel like I should explain the process (in the most basic form). The laser specifically targets and breaks up the ink particles underneath the skin. The body (after the procedure) then takes those bits and pieces away via your lymphatic system (umm, your fluid system). So, theoretically, you are left with clean un-tatted skin.
Now, the part you've been waiting for: The Pain. Oh, the pain. As the laser goes off I can hear each pulse zapping, see the bright light pulsing, feel the laser piercing into my skin, and smell the skin burning. Yes. The smell of skin burning. If I'm lucky enough, the skin is still extremely numb from the super ice. If not, the laser feels like a small thin dagger dripping with acid being pierced into my skin every time it pulses. BUT! It's over in a flash! (Ba-Dum Tsh!) After this experience the nurse then puts ointment over the area and covers it with gauze. By the time I get home the tattoo is dripping in blood (please see the first picture in this hub) and most of the time throbbing in pain. By the end of the first week my skin already starts looking normal and the tattoo starts going away - not fully - but some. By the end of four weeks I'm walking in to my next appointment. No pain, no gain!
(Be patient! I'll be posting pictures of the process as I make it through those sessions... stay tuned!)