What happens when you don't listen to your gut.
This is my unfortunate story about what happens when you don't listen to that nagging voice in the back of your head that tells you that something is just "off". About 3 years ago, I decided to get a tattoo. It was not my first, I already had 3 others. I had been thinking about getting a Celtic styled shamrock for a long while, and finally decided to do it. I had been to a tattoo shop in my college town a few times before, for both tattoos and piercings. I walked in and asked to make an appointment for later in the week for my tattoo, and I had brought in quite a few pictures of things I liked.
The owner referred me a tattoo artist, I asked him if it would possible to draw it first so I could see it. His response was cold "I don't have time for that. I only draw big pieces. Come in that day and I’ll draw it and we can change it then and there." Well, right away I did not like his response, but I thought, maybe this is typical? It was going to be a simple tattoo, a fairly small size (about the palm of my hand), but still this was going to be on me forever right? Then and there I should have walked away. But I didn't.
I came back later that week, with all my pictures and we selected the one I liked the best. It was a filigree shamrock with knots in it. I wanted it in green, and there was a thin black outline. I asked for a bit of shaping on the green so it wasn't so flat. My words were "I want this light looking and feminine".
He placed the stencil on the back of my neck and started. The tattoo lasted about 45 minutes, and it was filled with utter silence. When he was finally finished, I got up, and was horrified. My light and feminine tattoo looked like a gang tattoo. I actually, and 100% looked like I had the tattoo of someone who keeps a sharpened toothbrush under her pillow "just in case".
The Thin outline was thick and heavy, the green he had picked was fluorescent "Hulk Smash!" green, and the shading was placed all around the tattoo and was extremely heavy handed. I panicked, I didn't know what to do. I put my money down, and bolted. Should I have argued, and refused to pay? Maybe, but at that point I didn't care. I hated my very permanent tattoo and wanted to get the hell out of there.
I spent the next few days reading about how to fix a botched tattoo and called a few shops. A very reputable one (in Montreal) told me I could either try some procedure where they inject saline under the skin and it breaks up in the ink (which apparently only works on new tattoos), have it done over, or get it removed. I decided to book an appointment with them to see what they thought.
2 days later I was at tattoo shop no. 2, with two men examining my tattoo. They both thought the shading was heavy handed, but didn't seem to think it was as bad as I thought it was. While I appreciated their kinds words, I kindly didn't give a fuck, as I hated it. They discouraged me from doing the saline procedure (without going into detail), and said I can either go bigger and cover it, or try to take it off. My tattoo was already too big for my tastes, or too heavy anyway. I decided to go with removal, so they referred me to laser clinique.
I started my Laser tattoo removal treatments 7 days after I got my tattoo. I know that seems very fast, but my skin looked like it had healed, not scabs, pain or redness, and I wanted this off. My treatments were expensive (130$) and very painful. I would describe them as feeling like a grease burn (and this was with a topical numbing cream applied). And while the pain was quick in some spots, in others (I suspect the heavily shaded parts, or those right on my spin) seemed to bore into my skin. There was a lot of teeth grinding and toe curling going on. In any case, my treatments were quick, 10 minutes maximum. The pain (after the first treatment) was an intense burning for about 30 minutes. That being said, the pain was totally 100% bearable. Yes it does hurt more than the tattoo itself, but it's taking something permanent out of your skin, that's gotta hurt.
I went for treatments every 4 to 6 weeks for about a year and a half. After the first 4 or 5 treatments we decided to stop treating the green area as green pigment isnt very responsive to the laser's light, so we only treated the black outline and the smoke. The healing process was a bit rough the first few times. Some swelling and pinpoint bleeding, and big blisters (where the smoke was) for the first 4 treatments. With that said, after the first treatment, I could see a huge difference, but the amount that seems to lift with each treatment got smaller and smaller. About every third treatment I would bleed like crazy through all my gauze. I stopped over a year ago, and my black outline is barely visible, and the smoke is 100% gone. I believe I have one small spot with a slight raised hypo-pigmentation, which isn't bad at all.
I plan on getting my tattoo redone, in fact I have just found the artist I want to work with. He knows my story, and that it might take us a while to get there, and is cool with that. Needless to say, this time I will insist on seeing the drawing of it before the day of the tattoo.
Obviously, I regret getting this done, I chalk it up to a shitty tattoo artist who was not interested in my tattoo, and the fact that i was obviously too excited and didn't listen to my "gut feeling". I suppose this is a learning experience, and hell, it could have been a lot worse. I choose to believe it's karma for all the bad things i've done, it makes it a bit easier to deal with like that.
My advice for anyone who is looking into laser removal is this; if you really can't stand your tattoo do it. It is expensive, and it will not be instant. It can take up to 20 treatments with a gap of 6 weeks between treatments. For me, it was 100% worth it. Older tattoos are easiest to remove. In my case, mine was SO new the ink hadnt all settled, but that's probably one of the reasons i saw little difference in the later treatments, the ink had settled and it was "too new". If you want to have it covered you might not need all your tattoo removed, but be aware you might scar like crazy. Know your body. Fair skinned people (like myself) then not to scar as much, while darker skins have a higher chance of getting raised hyper pigmented scars which are hard to work around. Even after your 20+ treatments, your skin will never look the same, it will always have a somewhat strange mottled look to it. And for christ's sake, if your do get laser, take care of it while it's healing. Go out and get yourself some gauze, medical tape, polysporin and adaptics. Adaptics are like gel gauze that you can put between your oozing/bleeding skin and your cloth gauze, so your can easily remove the gauze cloth without ripping off clotted blood and causing pain.
submitted by: heathertimmons19
on: 28 July 2011
in Celtic Tattoos