(this post will be updated throughout 2021-22)
I’m getting my tattoo removed!! 🙌 For reasons I’m more inclined to share on my personal page than business one.
I’ll be documenting my experiences step-by-step, objectively and honestly. I know those of you who read these posts really wanna know the nitty-gritty details, so stay tuned throughout this journey to see its progress~
This will be more of an informal diary-style format and I’ll update this post as I go along.
Photos will be taken at home in the same spot and lighting conditions for stable comparisons between sessions.
This is not an elaborate ad and I’m not being sponsored for it. This is an honest sharing of my experiences in getting my tattoo removed so that whenever my clients ask me about it, I can ping this to them so they know what to expect.
Laserwise and NAOHOA would like to affiliate but haven’t discussed details yet. In the meantime, if you decide to see either of us and heard about one from the other, please let us know. ☺️
If you’re after a cover-up, getting laser first would normally make my (and any tattoo artist’s) job way easier. Depending on the design, you may get away with only selected areas being faded, rather than all of it. Either way, consult with us first and we’ll figure something out. ✌️
Jump to Sessions
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?
In very simple terms: the laser breaks up the ink into smaller particles, which are then reabsorbed into the body and excreted out. 🚽
Typically, factors such as increasing blood flow (e.g. via exercise) or having a fast metabolism can speed up the fading process. You may find that the tattoo fades by itself over time, as the body eats away at the ink, even without laser removal sessions (though I imagine this would only reach a certain point without further intervention).
I found Laserwise via Google search and went by reviews, portfolio and aesthetics. I appreciate their clean and professional look and ethos, and it’s actually jammy that they happen to be a stone’s throw away from my studio. They’ve been running since 2015 and I like how it’s run by a woman (Suzanne) with similar values to mine and how I run NAOHOA. 🙂
This was booked online – wait times are long, as they’re in high demand. During the Consultation, we went over medical details, what I wanted and Suzanne explained a bunch of stuff I found fascinating about laser treatment. As business owners in complimentary fields, we exchanged quite a lot of info on our expertise and I’m pretty sure we could talk forever, if not limited to a set time slot, hah.
- The practitioner adjusts their laser settings according to tattoo colour, darkness and the client’s skintone. I didn’t know the last bit, which was interesting: the darker the skin tone, the less contrast there is between it and the tattoo, so the laser settings need to be lower in order to avoid damaging the skin.
- Laserwise‘s equipment can fade black and red inks, but not greens or blues. If you have a green/blue tattoo that needs removing, you’ll have to find a practitioner who has the appropriate machinery for it.
Goggles on, lasers on. 😎💥 A small amount of the tattoo was lasered to test my pain tolerance and see how my skin would react to the treatment. It started with one zap per second, then increased in speed to compare the difference. I found that I preferred the faster pace but in short bursts, rather than continuous streams. Like tattooing, everyone’s pain tolerance will be different.
Two patch tests were done: one on the thick outline, and another on the inner red lines, as they require different settings. Throughout the treatment, a cooling apparatus was used to cool down my skin and honestly, I’m glad! It makes it far more bearable.
When the laser contacts the pigment in the skin, it feels like a sharp ‘zap’ of pain, which, when teamed with surrounding areas that have been treated, starts to feel like a burn. I found that the pain didn’t last long though, thanks to the cooling machine.
I intend on doing the first session as-is, the second with paracetamol and maybe the third with numbing cream, if the pain is too much. I’m doing all this because I want to be able to inform clients how it feels and what to expect.
Sessions will become less painful in following sessions, as there will be less ink to break down.
The patch tests are covered with a bandage, then it’s up to me to keep it dry for at least two days. I’ll be testing out Saniderm (an aftercare product I use for tattoos), to see if that can be effective during the healing process. The NHS uses Tegaderm (same thing, different brand) on their burns units, so I don’t see why Saniderm won’t work. 🤷🏻♀️
Removed the Saniderm aaaaand it pulled a blister open. Oops. Next time I’ll just use one patch and leave it on for a week. 🙈 This is why I’m using myself as a guinea pig, haha.
Managed to nab a session due to a last-minute cancellation. ✌️
Since the red bit of my tattoo from the Patch Test blistered, they lowered the settings for this session. The outlines (dark brown) were done first, then the inner lines (red…it was supposed to be light brown 🤦🏻♀️).
The skin was cleaned then cooled down for a few minutes before lasering, and the room was air-conditioned. Pain-wise, I’d say the outlines were a 5/10 (sometimes 7/10, but not often), and the lighter bits were 3/10. Apparently, this rating isn’t normal and people tend to flinch. 😅 As with tattooing, everyone’s pain threshold is so different, and things like stress levels, quality of sleep, hormones or even the weather can affect your tolerance on the day. I’d say it hurt 1/4-1/3 more than tattooing, so however you felt about getting the tattoo…add that. 🤷🏻♀️
The cooling helps a LOT and I don’t even wanna know what it’s like without it. It definitely stings more if the area isn’t cooled down enough first.
I didn’t take paracetamol or ibuprofen beforehand, to see what it felt like as-is. I don’t think I’ll bother with numbing cream as it’s too much of a faff and I did fine without it.
We ended up doing the whole thing in on sitting, and extra time was spent cooling down my tattoo before I left. I didn’t opt for a dressing, as I intended to use Saniderm when I got home.
My back was stingy and the skin felt somewhat rigid, but I was able to drive back fine (leaning forward, ’cause I didn’t want anything touching my back until it had a dressing on).
We have a mini air con, which we use on hot days. I sat in front of it for like…1-2hrs when I got home. 😂 Zan (husband) applied Saniderm for me, I made dinner, then after some chill time, noticed my back started feeling warm again, so used the mini air con until bed time.
Cooling soothes. ❄️ I’ll be keeping the Saniderm on for a week, so the skin has time to build a new layer before the film is removed. Not making the same mistake again, lol.
Sessions are booked two months apart, so your skin has time to heal properly. Quite a few of my (coverup) clients have mentioned that the longer they left between sessions, the more their tattoo faded. I booked in 6 for the sake of getting it over with and having a discount for paying in one go. I’ve been saving towards laser and a cover-up for a while, so had enough backed up.
Whenever I’m warm, my back really heats up, so I have to use the mini air con to cool it down. Lately, I’ve either been working or meditating in front of it until it feels better. I happen to have this weekend off, which is lucky! Trying to keep it as cool as possible to avoid blistering…
The first 2-3 days were super sore and annoying. Oddly enough, staying active distracted from the pain almost immediately. Doing DIY around the house alleviated more pain than sat in front of a fan whilst updating the website. 🤷🏻♀️
Despite the large area covered, I only developed one small blister at the back of my right arm.
Only the thick outline was worked on this time, and it didn’t hurt much at all. Tbh, I barely felt anything during the healing process, which made me a little sceptical on whether it would have faded much at all during this round.
Overall, I’d say 3-4/10 for pain, except for the area behind my right shoulder (7/10), which is pretty much always in pain due to repetitive strain from work. 😅 I did take a paracetamol beforehand to see if that would do anything, so maybe it did? I rarely ever take painkillers, so imagine they’d be more effective than usual when I do.
I described the first session feeling like a sharp “zap” of pain, with a slight burning sensation. This time, it was more like a pin prick (albeit, lots of them!). My back didn’t feel like it was burning this time, which was surprising.
I didn’t think it would have changed much, given how little I felt, but it looks like the top and middle sections have faded more than the sides…not sure why!
My skintone has recovered in the inside areas, though I think it needs one more sesh to fade it completely. It wasn’t touched during the second session, as they didn’t want to risk damaging my skin. Now that it has evened out, I’ll ask for it to be lasered as that was more painful when healing compared to the outline, and I’d rather get that out of the way during the Winter!
I can’t find an artist in the UK who specialises in the art style (Chinese ink brush) to the standard I want, and frankly don’t care enough about the coverup to travel abroad for it, soooo I’ve decided to fade this one as much as possible. I’ve booked 6 sessions and will see how much is gone by then – if I need more, then I’ll do that. Who knows, maybe I’ll get inked further down the line, but I’ve got other priorities I want to put my finances towards atm. Joys! 🤷🏻♀️
(Due in January 2022)
I’ll be updating the image below to show the first and most recent photos of my tattoo laser removal journey: