I decided to write about this topic because some people think that tattoo removal on brown skin is impossible. They also think it will result in a higher rate of pigmentation problems and scaring than people with low concentrations of melanin. Even though these things can occur, they can also be avoided by having an experienced professional remove your tattoo the right way with the right laser. Regardless of your complexion, the risks and side affects associated with laser tattoo removal are the same. This post is here to enlighten curious minds about the process and what it may look like to get a tattoo removed. I am currently undergoing treatment to remove one of my three tattoos because I simply don’t want it anymore. And, nope, it doesn’t matter that I can’t see it. Below is my story:
First off, you’re encouraged to schedule a consultation before you begin the removal process. During this time, a specialist informs you of the protocol, assesses the tattoo you want to remove, gives you an estimate of how many treatments you may have to sit through and how much it will cost, if the price wasn’t already established. I knew how much I was paying because I purchased a deal off of Groupon. I did my research about the cosmetic office, too. This is key.
I received my consultation and first treatment session on the same day. During my consultation, the specialist informed me that there is no guarantee that my tattoo will be completely removed. She continued to say I may experience permanent scaring, hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, it would just depend on my skin’s reaction to the laser. This means that even if all the ink was removed there would still be an impression of where it once appeared (cue hyper or hypopigmentation). She showed me an example of the area where her tattoo once was and yes, I could still see the impression. She has fair skin and the impression is lighter than her (hypopigmentation). Lastly, she stated that I may have to undergo eight sessions. I was not expecting to hear that number as I thought this was going to be a quick fix lol. She asked me if I wanted to proceed considering everything we went over plus aftercare. Keep in mind, I started this journey in May. Basically, summertime. Problem alert! After you start your treatment, your tattoo cannot be exposed to the sun. If you know me, you know I barely wear clothes in the summer and live for outdoor activities. I go to the beach, cookouts, picnics, outdoor festivals, etc. Initially, I couldn’t wrap my head around this problem because it was rocket science to me. Like, how was I supposed to escape the sun? Soon enough, I figured it out.
After the session, my skin was obviously very tender. As the days went by, my blisters popped. My tattoo began to itch, crust and the skin started to shed, all of which is normal. This is basically the same process your skin would go through if you got a scrape, cut or burn somewhere. It’s all an indication that your immune system has started the healing process. As far as the aftercare goes, I apply Aquaphor to my tattoo after every shower, and then I leave it alone to breathe. I don’t cover it up with a bandage. Well, I did once. It was only because it looked like it did in the blistering photo, and I had to attend my best friend’s birthday party. People are annoying and I didn’t want them to touch it, breath on it, poke at it, etc. Also, I avoid sun exposure by wearing clothes that cover most of my neck or I carry a light scarf. Honestly, taking care of it in the summer is not that bad because I spend most of my time at work (indoors) during the week. On the weekends, I’m more conscious of what I’m wearing. When night falls, I wear anything.
Oh, and let’s not forget that laser tattoo removal hurts like shit! In my opinion, getting a tattoo is painful but not as painful as getting it removed! It feels like hot chicken grease jumping on your skin a million times for about 60 seconds or it feels like someone is popping a rubber band on your skin a million times for about 60 seconds. Either way, it’s a horrible feeling. The discomfort is “reduced” by a tube of cold air directed at the area that is being treated. The cool air is bullshit. It still hurts. Essentially, you’re getting your skin burned off. It’s not a chill experience. Pun intended. The pain after the treatment varies from person to person. I was in pain for an hour. Good times.
There’s no point in stopping now, so my third session is scheduled for later this month. My tat is fading fast, and it’s because the ink is not very deep. My specialist even said the ink is breaking up quicker than she expected. I already see some hypopigmentation going on, but that’s expected because skin does this when it experiences any kind of injury.
The office I go to uses the Q-Switched laser. Q-Switched laser tattoo removal system is a high-powered laser of pulsed light that targets pigment and breaks it up into fragments that eventually disappear.
Treatment with the laser lasts for about 60 seconds, depending on the size of the tattoo. The number of treatments depend on the following:
- Size of tattoo
Black ink is the easiest to remove. FYI, my tattoo is comprised of red, green and black inks.
If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. I’ll continue to update this post to show you all my progression. Thanks for reading!
Please keep in mind that this is MY story. The removal process is an individual experience that depends on a variety of variables. This is general information and should not replace a doctor’s advice. Arrange a consultation, if you are thinking about getting your tattoo removed.