This has been a post much asked for on Twitter, so I thought it was time to share my experience of having a tattoo laser removed.
**Disclaimer** There are some pretty graphic photos later of healing tattoos, if you’re squeamish or eating, it’s probably best not to go any further. 😀
I’ve had this tattoo for about 3 years now and early last year, I decided I wanted to get it removed. I eventually want to get a cover-up, but I know you have to go bigger and darker; this way I hope I can lighten it enough first so that I can have more choice in what I cover it with.
The reason I’ve been hesitant about writing about the experience is because someone I used to live with a few years ago drew the tattoo for me and I felt somehow it would be disrespecting her and her artwork. The thing is though, I simply outgrew the tattoo, it’s not representative of me at all any more. At the same time, it’s also my blog where I should be able to write freely about things I want to.
So, as you can see below, this is my tattoo. It’s a Tim Burton-esque design and was drawn to (very loosely) represent me 🙂 Although unfortunately, I no longer have red hair or wear high heels any more.
Laser removal patch test:
I booked a first consultation at St George’s Clinic in Brighton in spring 2015. Keith was really lovely, chatted through my options and wasn’t judgemental at all; I guess he’s seen some sights! He’s also had laser removal himself which definitely made me feel comfortable that he knew what he was talking about.
I had a tiny patch test (he zapped the laser 5 times) and HOLY CRAP, IT HURT! Like, really, really hurt. Way more than getting the tattoo in the first place. It felt like I had been burnt with a cigarette while someone flicked an elastic band covered in barbed wire on my skin, topped with the feeling of hot fat being flicked on me. To be honest, it almost put me off going back, but if I want something new over the top, I gotta ride it out!
The best advice I was given was to buy some Emla Cream, (a topical anaesthetic available at Boots) smother it over the tattoo at least two hours before the appointment and then wrap cling film around the area to allow the cream to really sink in! It was supposed to take the edge off the pain, but it still hurt like the first time I got dumped by a boy and heard that he’d kissed one of my friends the same night.
J came with me to hold my hand and we both got to wear some sexy orange-lens glasses to protect our eyes from the laser. I felt very Willy Wonka!
The session took 20 minutes as tattoo only need going over once for it to start breaking down the ink. Afterwards, Keith applied a beautifully cooling ice pack for five minutes and I was on my way; albeit in a lot of pain and £50 lighter!
After the first session:
The tattoo itself looked white for about an hour and the skin around the tattoo looked red for a good few days! Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos straight afterwards as I went shopping in town which turned out to be a stupid idea. In the hours afterwards, it started feeling really hot and I ended up being at a friend’s house without my bra on having hot and cold flushes while I pathetically whimpered on her sofa holding a wet paper towel to my tattoo. I cannot begin to tell you how sexy I am sometimes!
One to two weeks after the first session:
Quite a lot of the tattoo started to blister so I gently burst them with a sterilised needle (as advised), needless to say, the blisters started to scab over and became itchy fast. Germolene was definitely my friend in the first couple of weeks.
While I was out shopping with my mum over Christmas, I managed to pull off the large scab at the bottom of the tattoo. I was trying on jeans and caught the scab with my thumb ring *vom* it hurt like crazy for about an hour!!
Three weeks after the first session:
It’s still not as healing as quickly as I’d like; I’m hesitant to touch it much, apart from gently washing it, as I really don’t want it to scar. Apparently this can hinder further removal attempts and can make cover-ups more difficult.
I’m beginning to wonder if this is such a good idea. I reckon that by the time it’s healed up, it’ll be time for the next session and I’m going to end up in exactly the same position every time I have laser treatment on it. I’m not even sure if it’s at all lighter than it was before.
I’m tempted to just go to a tattoo studio and talk to them about cover-ups before my next session.
Have you got any tattoos you regret and want removing/covering over? Are you likely to do anything about them or just leave them? x
Hi! I have had a tattoo lasered off and it does take a few sessions to get going – I highly recommend buy a tube of 100% aloe Vera gel. Can get it from tesco, lasts forever but it’s much better. Will help it not to scab. Mine has virtually faded completely boe
Thank you for the tip! How long did yours take? X
Nick from the Pixiwoos has been going through tattoo removal and it seems to work well for her but it looks like a very slow process x
Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x
Oh, I didn’t know that! Yeah, it’s definitely a long process as you have to wait for it to completely heal before the next session! I’d imagine I’ll be ready to cover it by about August/September! X
I’m only just catching up with this now and OOOOW it looks SO sore!!
I’ve been keen to see how you got on as I have one on my wrist that i’d love removed but after reading your experience I think I might just stick with a big watch, it’s served me well for the last 3 years haha.
You poor thing, I think if I was you, I’d just be going straight to the tattoo studio and seeing what they think.
Hope the rest heals well xx
Gillian xx EyelinerFlicks.com
Yep, it’s pretty much only just healed now and I’m due next weekend for the next session! Think I might have a couple more and then look at a cover up!
I’m not too sure what I want yet xxx
I’ve been thinking about tattoo removal for one of mine for nearly three years now – I’ve been letting it fade as much as possible first because I’m so scared about how much removal will hurt…and you’ve just confirmed all my fears! How many sessions are you expecting to need for it to be in a position that you can get something new done? x
It hurts but think how much better you’ll feel when it’s gone!
I’m not really sure yet, the clinic will let me know next time/time after when they say see how well it is or isn’t fading x
My friend’s brother got his girlfriend’s name tattooed on his back, but: 1. It wasn’t her name, it was her nickname, 2. He spelled it wrong, and 3. They broke up after 2 weeks. He spoke with someone who had their tattoo removed, and decided against it. So he got it covered up by this dragon that goes from his back all the way to his front. It’s kind of beautiful actually, you would never know it was a cover up job!
Yeah, I can always be thankful it wasn’t a name lol! 😁 I’m glad he got his sorted out!
Oh, what a nightmare! I’d never have anyone’ss name tattooed, not even my husband. I’m not planning to leave him or anything, but you just never know what might happen!
I’m not sure I’d even have my children’s names (if I had any) what if your child changed sex and their name or they were just an awful child! 😜
I read an article recently about a woman who had tattoo portraits of her kids, and then her daughter changed sex and she had to get it reworked!
That’s pretty awesome but imagine if it hadn’t been possible to cover it up?
Such great things can be done with cover ups too. Do you have anything in mind? I’m itching (excuse the pun) to get some more work done…
I’m not sure, I like flowers, lacework, Disney, watercolours, stags and …. Stuff 😁
What do you want to get?
Lots of stuff to choose from then! I want to get my shoulder price extended into a quarter sleeve. I might add some charms to the beadwork I have, and add some more black roses.
Just need some cash!
I’d consider a cover up, to be honest. The black ink may never lighten enough for you to get what you actually want and with the money you spend on removal you could get a really acecover up piece.
For what it’s worth I actually really like what you have! although I understand it’s not “you” any more
Yeah, I think I’m going to go down that route now, it’ll be easier and cheaper in the long run!
I appreciate that, but yeah, I don’t like it at all…
This is precisely why I never got a tattoo – tempted when I was a teen but I’m not that person anymore. I wanted something on my side similar to your placement.
I’ve heard that it takes a long time and many sessions to even lighten tattoos… if you’re planning on getting something else on top of it, maybe ask them how much further you really should go.
Tattoos are also very addictive. I’m going to chat with someone soon!
My dad had my mum’s name on his forearm and then they got divorced. A couple of years ago he started having sessions to have it removed and it’s definitely lightened up now, though it’s still there and I think he plans to have it covered rather than continue with the sessions.
I think even with 100s of sessions they never completely go! I’m going to have to start thinking of what I’d want to cover it with!
Yeah, it’ll be nicer to have something new that you love there than something faded that you’re not attached to any more.