Undoing Permanent Ink: My Desicion to Do Laser Tattoo Removal
As soon as the needle began to permanently ink my skin, a weird anxiety struck. I had been inked before, but had never experienced so much uncertainty in the moment I was being tattooed.
Think Before You Ink
In July of 2014, I made an appointment to get a tattoo I had been conceptualizing for months; a lotus flower (a common symbol in Buddhism) connected to a cross (a symbol in Christianity). As a Religious Studies minor, I had come to learn about different world faiths, only to reaffirm I believed in Christianity. In this reaffirmation, I identified I was a Buddhist sympathizer, an individual who does not subscribe or regularly practice Buddhism, but appreciates and incorporates aspects of the Buddhist faith into their own life. Buddhism helped me improve upon and strengthen my personal beliefs in significant ways. Because of this experience, I came to appreciate the imagery and meaning of a cross integrated into a lotus flower.
With the image in my head, I stopped by a tattoo shop in Atlanta where the artist drew a beautiful version of my vision. However, I declined to put the art on my body because the size was larger than I would have liked, and we could not come to an agreement on a smaller, less detailed version. A week later, I made an appointment with a shop where I had had other tattoos done. The artist there drew something much closer to my original vision. Admittedly, it was larger than I had intended; I wanted a simple outline, but took the advice of the artist that going too small would take away from the art of the tattoo.
As soon as the needle began to permanently ink my skin, a weird anxiety struck. I had been inked before, but had never experienced so much uncertainty in the moment I was being tattooed. I kept my thoughts at bay and let the artist finish. He was great, and let me give input as he was tattooing, redoing any line that was not to my satisfaction. Of the artists that had tattooed me, he had the lightest hand, so the tattooing process barely hurt. In the end, it was beautiful! I loved the art of the tattoo, but...
The Tattoff employee asked how long I had had the tattoo, to which I replied “Three days”.
“Oh no, what have you done?” she asked half laughing.
The Moment Of Uncertainty
I realized too late the placement on my wrist was not to my liking. Since I had not thought to lift my arm vertically (as if I was raising it or waving) when I had looked at the stencil design in the mirror, I did not realize my tattoo would go crooked with the twist of my wrist. As much as I tried to convince myself I was happy with the tattoo, each minute that passed I recognized another reason I was not 100% certain I wanted my new ink.
The day after I got the tattoo I was already looking up safe and recommended methods for removal. Three days later, I called Dr. Tattoff in Atlanta to ask how long I would have to wait to start the removal process. The first question the Tattoff employee asked was how long I had had the tattoo, to which I replied “Three days”. “Oh no, what have you done?” she asked half laughing.
I am sure there are people who may think I did not contemplate my wrist tattoo thoroughly. The truth is I did, for months. It was not until it was on my body and I was living with a visible black tattoo, that I realized I preferred my tattoos subtle and easily concealed. I have 3 other tattoos that people rarely realize are in plain sight. I was disappointed I wanted to remove the tattoo, but more importantly, I knew if I was not 100% happy with what was on my body, why wouldn’t I do something? If I found myself wanting to cover it, why wouldn’t I change it?
Removing The Tattoo
Fast-forward to September of 2014, my Dr. Tattoff consultation in Atlanta. When I went to my consultation appointment, I felt so much relief to know I was a great candidate for laser tattoo removal (simple black ink, on fair/light skin complexion), and they were confident they could remove it in about eight treatments. It is a commitment to remove a tattoo; doing it safely takes time and follow-up. By the time my consultation arrived I had become fond of my tattoo, but the consultation gave me the confidence to go through with what I knew I wanted more, a plain tattoo free wrist.
As of today, some of the ink is still visible because the company I was receiving treatment with closed its doors. It is also hard to predict exactly how many laser treatments it will take for complete removal, as everyone's body reacts differently to the treatment. As pictured, 11 treatments and the majority of the ink is gone; the black ink is not nearly as bold or visible as it once was. I am happy with how subtle the tattoo is now and do not regret the process of getting it done or removed. As much as you may think before you ink, it is possible to decide you are not 100% about your tattoo. Thankfully, ink is not nearly as permanent as people believe it is, and removal or fading is possible.
If you have a tattoo, have you ever considered removing or fading it?
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