Tattoo Removal: The Good, The Bad, & the Painful!
When I was a youngin’ I decided to have some artwork inked onto my body. No big deal, right? This was the early 00’s afterall, when tattoos still weren’t a common thing but were starting to become far more mainstream. Day by day more people were getting tattoos and piercings, and the industry was definitely booming and becoming not only socially acceptable, but social norm.
I loved and adored the aesthetic of inked bodies, I still do, and all in all I ended up being inked an incredible 12 times! I love the designs I have on my body, they have meaning, they are a part of who I am. At the time, although I knew there were avenues for tattoo removal, I knew I would never want them removed.
And then when I hit 27, several of my touch-ups went wrong and the ink bled. When ink bleeds on a tattoo it’s because the tattoo artist has made a mistake and pierced the skin too deeply. It’s impossible to fix without a cover up or tattoo removal and is one of the non-hygiene related risks of getting a tattoo in the first place, even if your artist is experienced. The parlour of course denied all responsibility, and several hundred £’s/$’s worth of art on my body was ruined
I was now 27 with ruined, highly visible tattoos, with very few choices regarding a solution. I had also done a lot of growing up throughout my 20’s, realising the life I was living was not the life I wanted to continue to live. By this age, I had set aside many toxic relationships, and my views on life had changed from those of a young adult still influenced by those around her, to the views of an adult with life experience, able to think for herself.
With ruined tattoos on one hand (literally), and a couple of designs that were no longer me on the figurative other, I decided to go down the tattoo removal route.
Over the past seven years I have tried three different tattoo removal methods, with varying degrees of success, which I have reviewed below. Tattoo removal can be painful, expensive, and requires a lot of patience as it takes a lot of time.
Think, a minute on the lips a lifetime on the hips, but with ink.
Once you start the procedure you have to commit to removing the tattoo or you end up with something faded and unattractive, but the patience and perseverance does pay off in the long run.
Tattoo removal options
Laser Tattoo Removal is ridiculously painful, and although I have an incredibly high pain tolerance I still cried. During my procedures, the consultant had to regularly stop so I could breath through the pain, and it was honestly ten times more painful than being inked in the first place. In fact, the first treatment I had was during my lunch break, and the residual pain was so bad I had to go home from work and drink a lot of wine (because wine numbs pain, right? Right.)
Was the pain worth it?
Not at all. Although laser removal is incredibly expensive, and although it claims to the best method of removal, I actually found my tattoos incredibly slow to fade by comparison to other methods I have used. They say it can take six treatments to remove a plain black tattoo, if you have fair skin. Have you seen how pale I am? I was the perfect patient. But after 6 treatments my tattoos were still dark, and others I know who have also had laser removal have found the same, and even after 10 treatments their tattoos were still visible, and very little fading had occurred.
Tat B Gone
There are many removal creams on the market, and are typically a two step tattoo removal treatment that involves exfoliating the skin and then rubbing in an ointment. This was the first tattoo removal option I tried, and I found the results to be surprising indeed – the tattoos were starting to fade around the edges! It was cost effective, and completely painless.
It was time consuming, and messy, and easy to brush to the side because you don’t want to walk around with goop on yourself. The treatment needs to be done twice a day, and the ointment has a weird odour, and a strange brown colour and consistency that sits on the skin, easily transferring onto anything it comes into contact with.
Although it slowly works to fade the tattoo, the mess involved makes it less than appealing. These days it’s also quite costly, but it is cheaper than the original tattoo, and it is completely painless and risk free.
TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid)
TCA is by far the most successful, affordable, painless tattoo removal solution I have tried. It’s a cosmetics grade acid used for skin peels, that also works to remove unwanted tattoos. It’s a slow process, all tattoo removal is, but considering the affordability, “painless” nature, the fact it can be done at home and the lack of mess, it’s the treatment I use.
And this is a big but – if you aren’t careful, it can be very dangerous. After all, it is an acid and it is a chemical peel. I use 100% TCA on my tattoos and find this works best, however I also learned how to use the acid on a 25% solution and worked my way up.
The skin must be clean and dry before applying the solution, and you must have running water on hand in case you start to feel a tingling sensation which signals a bad reactions. If you aren’t careful, you burn your skin that although it peels off and leaves no scars, it is quite painful at the time.
Even after all this time I still make mistakes with TCA, and once had to walk around for a week with a bright red neck due to burning after I applied it to a tattoo that hadn’t been thoroughly cleansed – that was incredibly painful, but not so painful as lasers!
TCA does show results, and watching the dead skin peel away is incredibly therapeutic, however it does have its dangers so you have to be careful.
These are the just the three options I have tried over the years, and my number of tattoos is steadily decreasing. However, as the years go by more and more tattoo removal options are becoming available, so whatever treatment you do choose to undertake, ensure you research it thoroughly and understand that it does take time, it may hurt, but once you start seeing the results you will be encouraged and keep on keeping on.
Do you have any tattoos you want removed? Or are there any you’re considering getting? Let’s chat in the comments!