A Guide to Tattoo Excision and Laser Removal Procedures
Tattoo Excision vs. Laser Removal
Hello, my name is Michael. I have created this because I could not find any helpful information regarding tattoo removal experiences when I needed it. I hope I can be of any help to anyone else going through the same ordeal. I just want to try to explain my experiences and my decisions to anyone who is interested in tattoo removal.
Over the course of three years, from 2007 to 2010, I went through ten very painful laser removal treatments. It was a lot of trouble just to find a professional who could do the treatments much less try to find the best price.
After researching possible places that offered laser removal, I decided on Immortal Images in Charlotte, NC. They offered a relatively low price and were very professional. I unfortunately do not have any pictures of the laser treatments after they were performed.
Does a Tattoo Laser Removal Hurt?
I will say that the initial five treatments were the most painful. I had a lot of blistering and some bleeding. The experience can be described as a very painful burn, and it will take quite a lot of tolerance to get used to the pain.
How Long Does it Take?
The wound would heal in about 1-2 weeks after each treatment. I would then go back to have another treatment done after 2 months. The price for each session was $150, and the treatment lasted about 10-20 minutes each time. After about five treatments, they stopped hurting as much.
Did it Work?
The only concern besides my tattoo not fading was the possible discoloration of the skin from the laser. The tattoo on my left arm was successfully removed without any discoloration. The tattoo on my right arm was not removed successfully, for unknown reasons. I was told that the type of ink that was used could have been plastic based, which is harder to remove. Since most tattoo artists mix their own ink there is no way to tell for sure. Also there are no FDA standards for tattoo ink.
A Guide to the Tattoo Removal Healing ProcessClick thumbnail to view full-size
How Tattoo Excision Works
I could not wait any longer so I did more research. I researched plastic surgeons, sent emails and took pictures, and requested pricing. For the most, part they all said the same thing: that the tattoo would take 2-3 sessions and would consist of the tattoo being excised out of my skin or I could choose to do skin grafts. Skin grafts would mean more anesthetic.
I chose excision. They began by numbing the area of the tattoo. I was placed in a chair and was able to watch the entire procedure, which took about an hour. An ellipse around my tattoo was made and the tattoo was cut away from my arm. The remaining area was sewn closed and stitched. My doctor was very cool and answered any questions I had for the procedure.
After-Effects and Treatment
The night after the procedure I started to really feel my arm and there was some discomfort. Two days after the procedure I felt fine and was able to extend my arm normally. I am going back to have the second half removed with the same procedure in 6-12 months when I've fully healed from this procedure and my skin has stretched back to normal.
The price for this procedure was $850 and the consultation was $50 dollars. In total, the cost for the two excision procedures was $1,750.
The total cost including the excision, which was $1,500, was $3,250. This does not include the gas money and the tip for each visit to North Carolina, which totaled about thirty dollars for gas each time and a 20 dollar tip. So, add another $500 or so and that adds up to $3750 dollars. My tattoos originally cost me $240. I got them in Richmond, VA when I was 18. I am now 24.
What You Should Do
For anyone who wants to have their tattoos removed I recommend finding somewhere whether it's a physician or a tattoo shop that does laser removal and trying that first. If you are like me and have problems with the laser treatments tattoo, excision is the next way to go. You will have a scar but the results will be instant. Some things to keep in mind when you do:
- Make sure that the plastic surgeon that you find is certified and check his or her credentials.
- Schedule a consultation and ask all the questions you have.
There are some factors that will determine whether tattoo excision is right for you, such as your tattoo size and the location of the tattoo. This has been a really good learning experience and hopefully I can help anyone else understand the agonizing and drawn out process of removing a tattoo.