Tattoo Removal: Another Permanent Change

Updated on March 7, 2018
Ouch!  After a laser treatment.  Bloody and covered in ointment...
Ouch! After a laser treatment. Bloody and covered in ointment...

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!)


After treatment #4: All healed, body taking the ink away.

There is a little hyperpigementation (dark skin) because of the laser.  BUT this will go away after time (I'm assured).  That thing above the word "you" is my funky mole.  It's been there forever and it's always looked like that. *phew*
There is a little hyperpigementation (dark skin) because of the laser. BUT this will go away after time (I'm assured). That thing above the word "you" is my funky mole. It's been there forever and it's always looked like that. *phew*

After treatment #5: A mostly scabbed over tattoo.

Hyperpigmentation is visible, but the tattoo is slowly fading away.  This time my technician (who also happens to be a pediatric nurse) used two different lasers - one to target black ink and one to target brown ink (doesn't hurt as much- yay!).
Hyperpigmentation is visible, but the tattoo is slowly fading away. This time my technician (who also happens to be a pediatric nurse) used two different lasers - one to target black ink and one to target brown ink (doesn't hurt as much- yay!).

After treatment #6: Healed and Waiting

Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation visible.  My nurse told me that we will have to wait 2-3 months for my melanocytes to start making pigment again.  If we laser them too much, then the hypopigmentation will be there for a very long time.
Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation visible. My nurse told me that we will have to wait 2-3 months for my melanocytes to start making pigment again. If we laser them too much, then the hypopigmentation will be there for a very long time.

After treatment #7: A Long Time Waiting

I've been waiting for about 8 months for the hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation to cool off!  My body's been eating up a lot of the ink and it's probably a good time to get another treatment :)
I've been waiting for about 8 months for the hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation to cool off! My body's been eating up a lot of the ink and it's probably a good time to get another treatment :)

Post Treatment #8 & #9

Ask and you shall receive!  We've learned two things from this picture: #1 My tattoo is almost gone! & #2 I really like my yellow plaid shirt.
Ask and you shall receive! We've learned two things from this picture: #1 My tattoo is almost gone! & #2 I really like my yellow plaid shirt.

Laser Tattoo Removal Poll!

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    • profile image

      James Drew 

      3 months ago

      Hi...could you maybe post an updated pic of your tattoo...I'm concerned about how the skin will look after a good bit of time has gone by after the removal process has been completed. The person I spoke with who did the removal said my skin will not look the same as before I got the tattoo....

    • profile image

      Christina 

      19 months ago

      WOWW!!!! It looks great! I tattooed my boyfriend's name over my heart, and he ended up cheating on me with my bestfriend of 13 years. I wanted to have this ugly name tattoo removed but was very skeptical of it being completely removed, and afraid it would scar. I am so thrilled to see it really does get removed and doesn't leave scarring. How painful was it? Can I drink a long island iced tea (2) before going in for my session?

    • profile image

      Wens 

      20 months ago

      This post is well written I like the humour. I'm having laser scar removal for a hyperpigmented scar. I have had two sessions done and see little improvement. Seeing your waiting time and subsequent improvement gives me hope

    • profile image

      MP 

      4 years ago

      how is the hypo-pigmentation going? are you doing anything to help it progress back to its normal tone?

    • profile image

      runner129 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for posting that picture, I was so curious to see & now I'm just amazed! That's really incredible.

      Why is it that you say you may need 2 or even 3 more treatments? I think it looks like once the hypopigmentation cools down it will be completely gone! Just my opinion..

    • Winnie* profile imageAUTHOR

      Winnie* 

      5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks! I just posted another one! I think I have maybe 2 or three treatments left. But they're gonna be spaced out!! I gotta get the hypopigmentation to chill out first :)

    • profile image

      runner129 

      5 years ago

      You should post a more recent photo! It looks like it's coming along fantastically! Congrats!!

    • profile image

      Davis 

      5 years ago

      Thanks Winnie! That's pretty much what I did...it's only day 1. So looking forward to when I can see actual results... Patience, OHMMMMM.

    • Winnie* profile imageAUTHOR

      Winnie* 

      5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I'll post another picture soon! I need someone to take it for me, since it's on my back :)

      For the healing process, besides doing what your nurse tells you, I just try and leave it alone! haha! I usually take my bandage off in the evening before I go to bed and then just let it heal itself after that. Good luck, Davis! It sounds like you are in the same situation I was in.

    • profile image

      Davis 

      5 years ago

      you healed nicely! just had my first treatment...Anything you can recommend for the healing process? I to have black ink lettering only 2 years old.

    • profile image

      FreeMe257 

      5 years ago

      Post a more recent picture! Really curious to see how it's going (:

    • profile image

      Jesss 

      5 years ago

      Wow!! That's really great that it ended up being so cheap. I was afraid that one treatment would end up being $600! Good to know that there are places out there that are reasonably priced! My tattoo that I want to have removed is script too, & it covers a big area, but realistically it's not very much ink, it's just spread out thinly. Hopefully I'll have luck like yours, with the price & the amazing results!

    • Winnie* profile imageAUTHOR

      Winnie* 

      5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      It was a while ago when I first signed the deal, but I remember going when there was a special going on... the lady was really nice too - since it was script she kinda decreased the "area" that she was charging because of all the blank spaces in between. She's super cool.

    • profile image

      Jesss 

      5 years ago

      How did it only cost you $600!? That's so cheap! How much does the place charger per square inch?

    • Winnie* profile imageAUTHOR

      Winnie* 

      6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I hope so too! Good luck!!

    • profile image

      glynis22 

      6 years ago

      It looks like it's really working well. Hopefully my experience with the laser will be similar! o:

    • profile image

      glynis22 

      6 years ago

      Awesome!

    • Winnie* profile imageAUTHOR

      Winnie* 

      6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thank you! I'm still getting treatments at Medermis Laser Clinic (http://www.medermislaserclinic.com/) - the lady that does my treatments is awesome!

    • profile image

      glynis22 

      6 years ago

      I love this post! Where did you go to have your tattoo removed?

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