My Laser Tattoo Removal Experience. It Was Worth It. Pictures to Prove It!
Shortly after I turned 18, I thought it would be a good idea to get a couple tattoos on my hand and wrist. The first tattoo I got was on my wrist, a pair of wings. The second tattoo I got, which was about a year later, was a cross on the back of my hand. They were both standard black ink tattoos, no color. I have olive color skin that tans easily but is not always tan. These are both factors that contribute to how fast and effective a tattoo removal treatment works. Other factors include the age of the tattoo and location on the body. I believe the last two mentioned factors are what made the process of my tattoo laser removal such a long one. However, with that being said, it was worth it. You just should go into the process accepting that even though you got the tattoo in one night, it is going to take patience and more than one night to remove.
Over time tattoo ink is slowly metabolized by the body. Laser tattoo removal simply expedites the process. The lasers break down the ink into tiny fragments that the body filters out. Therefore, because my tattoos were new and I began having tattoo removal sessions within a few years of getting my tattoos, that helped contribute to the length of my tattoo removal process. Also, because both my tattoos were located on the very outer ends of my extremities (hand and wrist) and not centrally located (i.e. abdomen), this also contributed to the entire process of my tattoo removal. I can only estimate how many treatments I received. I went to two separate places over the course of a couple years. Money was a factor for me to consider during this process, so when I found out about a more affordable place I changed locations.
I believe I did about 8 treatments at the first place and maybe 6-10 treatments at the second place. It was recommended to me that I wait at least 6 weeks between treatments, as to not waste money and allow my body to remove the ink on its own in between treatments (with the help of the lasers breaking down the ink, of course). Sometimes I did double treatments, meaning the laser technician would go over my tattoos twice with the laser. At the first location, they would charge me for this and have me wait thirty minutes in between treatments. At the second location, they didn’t charge me nor would they have me wait in between. The results were not immediately obvious enough for me to deem if one were more effective than the other. The whole thing was a very slow and gradual process.
The first place only took pictures the first time and most likely were waiting to take a final picture once my sessions were completed. However, I did not complete my treatment with them. The second location would take pictures before each session. This was very helpful and proved to be reassuring when progress would sometimes seem to stand still. Regardless of the slow progress, it was worth it and I had the scars to remind me so! Prior to seeking a professional, I tried a reckless and painful DIY hack to remove my tattoos myself. I used over the counter wart medicine to remove my tattoos by essentially burning the tattoos off which left me with very visible scars.
However, the scars pictured are solely from my failed attempt. Now that I understand that the way to remove tattoos is through the metabolic breakdown of the ink, I realize to attempt to remove a tattoo topically is completely foolish and harmful. With that said, that basically brings us full circle regarding my tattoo removal experience. The only thing I’ve neglected to touch on is, “Does it hurt?”
To answer that simply, yes. To answer that in depth, let me explain. When I first began with my removal sessions I was nervous anticipating the pain. The first location I received treatment from administered tiny lidocaine injections right under the skin of the treated area. This left my hand and wrist very swollen. I could still feel the lasers which were uncomfortable but the numbing injections were helpful. The effectiveness of the lidocaine numbing medication was confirmed when I would do double treatments and they would have me wait in between laser sessions. I could feel the difference the second time as the numbing injections would begin to wear off.
Then, at the second place I went to I was still a little nervous. However, they only offered a topical numbing cream. The effectiveness was about the same but didn’t leave my hand and wrist nearly as swollen afterwards. Eventually I stopped feeling scared of the pain and didn’t want the inconvenience of waiting for the numbing cream to activate which was about 30-45 extra minutes, plus the additional cost. Once I finally began receiving treatments with only the ice (which was given at both locations,) I was completely fine. That isn’t to say it didn’t hurt, but you just kind of have to tough it out and realize it’s a quick process.
Therefore, my overall opinion of tattoo removal is to do it! It’s safe and effective and if you have a tattoo you resent or it is causing you to not move forward in a career or something of the like, I fully believe it is worth the money, time and pain. It is also kind of ironic if you think about it, laser tattoo removal forces you to practice patience when most likely fixing a choice which was probably impulsive. So, you may want to think twice about getting a new tattoo unless you're absolute certain you want it for the rest of your life!
FYI, In case you're wondering, the cost of my laser sessions varied. At the first location, it was $300 for a single treatment and a double treatment in one day was $450. They also charged me $60 for numbing medication. At the second location, I spent $100 total. Towards the end of my treatment sessions, my tattoos were so small and faded and I had been coming so long, that they gave me $50 back. I only did numbing medication once there but I believe they charged an additional $15 for it. I've also been asked what type of laser was used. I believe it was a picosure laser, but I most likely had several different lasers used at me between the two places I went to. The first place I went to was Laser & Skin Surgery Center of Northern California- Sacramento, Ca. The second location was InkOff.me- Sacramento, Ca. I did not have a set doctor/laser tech at either location.