Laser tattoo removal: the halfway mark
I say that with some trepidation – because, as I've learned, with laser tattoo removal there can be no definite end dates. But, seven sessions in, I'm beginning to see real changes and I'm hoping that this marks the beginning of the end! I started my laser tattoo removal journey almost a year ago, with an excruciating first session at Sensius Laser Clinic*. At that first session, I kicked my little feet the whole time the Lovely Laura was lasering away my teenage mistake. I laughed uncontrollably at this pain I was choosing to inflict upon myself. In the days after my laser tattoo removal session, I slept on my stomach, wore only leggings and got close friends to administer sharp slaps to stop the itch.
So – has it got any better?
I don't mind saying that, after session one, My Stephen told me to give it up. It wasn't worth it, he decided. I mean, I never even see that tattoo. Can't I just forget about it? Nothing could be worth this discomfort.
But, I figured, I'd started – I may as well keep going. And I'm glad to report that not one of the subsequent six sessions has been as painful as the first. Nor have the recovery sessions been as bad. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps, psychologically at least, I'm better prepared. But, looking at my tattoo then and now, I feel as if the laser just had a whole lot more to work with in the beginning.
Then vs now
This was my tattoo before I'd had a single laser tattoo removal session. The red mark to the left is from my patch test – but you can see, that tatt was black. At the time, I thought it had faded quite a bit – you can see a few slight patches on the lefthand side where the ink seems to have faded – but that's nothing compared to how faded it is now.
Here it is today, right before my seventh laser tattoo removal session. The camera isn't out of focus; right above the left "wing" you can see a little freckle. But the tattoo itself has faded and blurred considerably. I'd almost go as far as to say that it looks worse – but I get that this is all a part of the process!
The laser tattoo removal process – what's different?
Today was my best session yet, according to Laura. I took deep breaths and counted to 200 and didn't ask for a lot of breaks. At past sessions, I've been known to stop every minute or so to have ice applied to the area and wonder why the hell it is I'm doing this to myself.
Ultimately, I'm not sure what exactly has changed. It still feels like a short, very sharp crack to the skin. There's a loud popping noise (that's the laser hitting the hair). I won't lie: it's still painful. And my skin doesn't love it – here's the poor inflamed area right after session seven.
But there's something about the kind of pain you've endured before that dulls the impact somewhat. I mean, if I've done it once – and survived – surely I can do it this time, too!
I find counting helps – as does talking. Anything, essentially, that you can do to distract yourself is a good shout. I still kick my feet sometimes; today I flexed at the ankles and tried to remember my yoga breathing.
The recovery: is it still itchy?
Here's another aspect of the laser tattoo removal process that has, inexplicably, improved. Aside from one session – I think it was my third – that resulted in massive blisters (the body's way of going, "What the hell are you doing?!"), I've had very few dramatic reactions.
Since my first session, I haven't had excessive itching or crusting. I usually wear a bandage for a day or so, then I start aloe vera-ing the area like crazy. It's still absolutely mandatory to wear leggings for at least three days, but I like to just pretend I'm off to the gym (I'm so sporty, don'tcha know).
How long left?
This is the million-dollar question – and one that perhaps only Holy God can answer. As you can see, my tattoo has faded massively – but it's still very much there, and it'll take a good few sessions before it's totally gone.
Laura reckons that things speed up a bit towards the end; as the majority of the ink is broken down, things get a little easier. So, she said, it could take four or five more sessions – but it could also take six or seven. So we'll see.
As things stand, I'm feeling really optimistic about seeing the end of this godforsaken tramp stamp – the sooner, the better, but either way it'll have been worth the wait!
*Sensius Laser Clinic is providing me with laser tattoo removal in exchange for coverage on my blog and social media channels. I will always disclose if a post is sponsored or contains affiliate links; for more, check out my disclaimer.