The truth about tattoo removal
So you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo removed for a while now. Google has brought you to youtube where you’ve ended up watching lots of cool videos of tattoos getting zapped by laser. Viola! All gone! That looks easy!
Although a picture can speak a thousand words, and a video can speak a million, the thing with words is: they can tell you about the stuff that you don’t see on videos which can be very deceptive. Here are those words.
1. A lot of the tattoo removal videos are done in laser clinics in the US where it’s more prominent to use some form of anaesthetic. But they don’t usually bother with that. Not in Ireland, and not in my experience. You just have to bear the pain like you did when you had the damn thing done. And it’s just as sore, maybe more so. Though it was only after I had a new laser technician that I discovered the first one was a sadist, and it’s not so painful when you a more caring technician who occasionally pauses the LASER THAT’S BURNING YOUR SKIN OFF.
2. These videos make it look like you have one session and that’s it, your tattoo is gone forever. And that is even more deceptive.
- It takes many many sessions to remove, at least a dozen depending on tattoo.
- The first session is the most effective and most noticeable reduction. Subsequent sessions may have ZERO visible effect. I had several in a row where there was no reduction.
- When you see a tattoo magically vanishing in a video, what you don’t realize is what you’re really looking at is a skin coloured blister. When your skin calms down, the tattoo re-emerges almost as strong as it was.
I’ve been going every 6 weeks for a year and a half now, and recently my mum pointed at my (slightly faded) tattoo and said “I thought you were going to have that removed?” oblivious to the fact that I have just finished my full course of my tattoo removal. In fact, I had to have many more sessions than I was told would be necessary.
It was maybe 14 or 15 sessions in all. I stopped counting. And the final result is that the outlines are mostly gone. Pretty much failed at removing any of the fill colour. I have to make an appointment for another round of sesssions with a different laser clinic, who have a machine that might do better at removing the fill colour. Which will obviously cost more.
So – the moral of the story is: be prepared for a much longer haul than those videos suggest.
Here’s the most recent one that I’ve seen:
There’s nothing quite like a very bad tattoo to remind you just how stupid you were when you were younger. I wonder just how many stupid acts I’ve been able to forget over the years. But there’s no forgetting this one. Only excuse I can give my self for such a stupid tattoo is that I was way under age (no one in the tattoo shop batted an eyelid though). I didn’t want to just pick a tattoo out of a catalogue, I wanted something different and for some bizarre reason, I somehow thought it would be a good idea to have a tattoo of an Adidas logo with my name instead of Adidas. Would love to go back in a time machine and ask myself what the hell I was thinking.
I’ve wanted to have it removed for years now. I’m forever pulling my t-shirt sleeves over the stupid thing which might as well read “Yes, I am an utter moron”.
So I finally scrape together a few quid and make an appointment and a year and a half later, after a lot of sessions, a lot of which had no effect, I just have a more faded tattoo.
Here are some photos taken just after some of the laser sessions.
Before any treatment
Half hour after first session. Some of the lines are faded:
After third session
After Fourth session
Insert 4 sessions here that had such little effect, that I didn’t bother taking any photos.
Directly after 8th session
After 9th session.
And here it is today. After a total of maybe 14 or 15 sessions:
Here’s before and after
I’ll write an update in a few years when it’s gone altogether!
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