Friday, 12 August 2016

The First Session

My First Q-Swichted Laser Tattoo Removal

My first session was on 6th January, 2016. I went to the studio at lunchtime. I hadn't told anyone I was doing this, even my wife. I tend to need to start something before I'll tell people. I didn't want to say I was doing this, then not go ahead with it. I walked in, the technician was there so we had a chat about it. - He is really nice guy, really informative and helpful. I'm not going to name him or the studio as that's not the point. Should he be reading and want to be mentioned, I'm happy to do so - I showed him the tattoo, told him how old it was, why I wanted it removed. We agreed €60 per session and we'd start immediately, once I filled out the consent form. I was delighted with this.

During the consultation phase, he told me
  • It may not be possible to completely remove the tattoo 
  • It would probably take 8 - 10 sessions, though could be more
  • Asked if I wanted complete removal or cover up
  • Showed me a faded tattoo on his back that I think was on 6th session
  • Explained how the treatment works
I was quite surprised by how visible the tattoo was on his back. It had gone kind of see through, you could clearly see skin but there was a lot of ink still visible. He told me that it had been black, very black. It was now a very light, see through kind of grey. This seemed ok, mine was a little faded, I'm still pretty certain it will only take around 4 sessions to completely remove... and be gone by July.

What I found really interesting was how laser tattoo removal works. The laser doesn't actually remove the tattoo. From the moment you get a tattoo, your immune system is trying to remove it. The ink particles are too large to be broken down so it stays visible. This is why they'll always slightly fade over time. The laser breaks the ink into smaller particles that your body can remove. Each session, you're breaking down more ink and your body can remove these smaller particles.

After this, we go into the studio. A cold pack is put on my arm to numb and cool it. I'm kind of nervous at this stage as I have no idea what to expect. I said "I don't think my arm has ever felt so cold.", the reply was "It's about to get really hot." We begin.

The laser is loud. There's a constant beeping noise and a snapping sound each time it fires. I can't describe how it feels. There's definitely an element of pain but it's not too bad. I think the tattoo application hurt more. Some describe it as being hit with a rubber band, that doesn't seem right to me. It was more like being flicked on a very small surface area over and over. While this is happening, I could feel my arm getting hot and could see it swelling. We take a break to cool the tattoo and start again. The pain isn't too bad. The tattoo goes completely white - I'm told this is the water vapor in your skin evaporating -  and then settles back down looking a little red & swollen.

I remember saying to the technician that I'd been thinking about this for years and now that I've started, I'm kind of sad. I joked that I should go out and get another layer of ink put on it. We chat about after care, I'm told to keep it cool and apply aloe vera and E45 cream. Basically treat it like sun burn. I'm also advised to drink lots of water and do cardio exercise, basically keep my immune system healthy. All of this is good advice. We agree I'll come back for my next session in 6 weeks.

I go back to work saying nothing about it to anyone. It was January so I had long sleeves on. Through out the day I had some bad flashes of pain. It did remind me of sun burn but concentrated. Normally with sun burn, I don't have it covered and constantly apply cream / aloe / ice pack, not just work away like nothing has happened; while a section of my arm almost feels like it's on fire.

I get home that evening and apply lots of aloe. I show my wife who is also surprised. I had told her I was considering it but she also thought I would never actually do it. I can't remember what I did to cool it that night, anything I could think of. It was swollen quite badly with a couple of small blisters. The pain / swelling / blistering was not the fault of the studio. It was entirely my own fault. I made no effort to keep it cool for about 6 hours after the treatment. I learned from this, with every other session I treated it like a burn and the healing time was much faster.

I didn't take any photos that night. I think I expected it would be 50% gone in 3 weeks so there was no need to take a photo. It's going to be a quick removal process, less than 6 months. It's not like I'm going to write a blog about it or anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment