Tuesday, June 8, 2010

~ Patience ~

After considering it for awhile and getting good advice from all the readers, I decided I need to put at least 8 weeks between each treatment. I really need to maximize everything from money to healing time to ink removal.

Especially now, when I am seeing more and more textural changes, I need to give my skin the utmost amount of time to heal. I would normally be going in for a treatment next week, but I still have small areas of fresh 'scar' tissue. Where if you rub or scratch it, the skin sheaths-off rather easily and bleeds. I do not think this should constitute completely healed skin which is ready for another treatment. I also think this kind of occurrence is happening later and later post-treatments probably due to a weakening of the skin over time from all the burns so far.

I scheduled my next appointment for July 15th, 2010. This is almost 10 weeks after my May 6th treatment, and I am exited to see where my skin and the ink itself will be at that time. I will probably take some pics of the tattoo next week, so we can see where I would of been had I gone in for a treatment. We can then compare this to where I will actually be say July 14th. I wonder if we'll see any ink disappear on its own between now and then. That would be exciting! That would also be the point of patience between treatments.

Lastly, some good news to report, I can now see a lot more white skin (which is probably hypo-pigmented) where all that pink skin was, so it is looking really good and like the removal is making much better progress. I knew it at the time, but my latest reminder to you and myself is to wait until the tattoo is really healed after a treatment (usually at least 4 weeks) before you start making any judgments about progress or the future. Also, I think we all know what is best for us. For example, I need to slow down, some of us may need to stop treatments, and some of us need to begin treatments. Whatever you feel you need to do is probably the right thing to do, so just trust yourself and trust that things will work-out, when and how they should!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

!Getting Nervous and Trying Not to Think of the Future!

I know I shouldn't be looking at the tattoo this early after a treatment and trying to imagine when this all will end, but I can't help it. I mean if I think about this logistically and how very little is getting taken out from time to time now. I really can see my self needing like 10 treatments more! My only other thought is that I need to slow down and put at least a couple months between each treatment as I was initially advised. I guess I fell into the impatient trap as I have been doing treatments every 5 weeks...should I fall back to every eight weeks?. I just don't want to wait. With summer here, I am also risking tanning the scar which makes it look darker, so I think, "should I just wait until fall to resume treatments?". Decisions, decisions, decisions....and I am now over two-thousand dollars into this experience, so saving money is a huge incentive too.

When I went for my last treatment, Allison, whom usually does the treatments, was out on maternity leave, so I got a new girl. She is really new...meaning she had just been trained for laser tattoo removals. What an experience that was! The assistant, who is usually there, gave me the anesthesia injections, and she doubled me up. I think she gave me about 100-120 injections, and usually I can only feel the epinephrine just slightly, but this time my heart was racing!  Well, the new girl doing the treatments was so slow zapping me, because she wanted to do it just right...understandable. But I was getting really anxious from sitting there so long and thinking, "oh my god, the anesthesia wears off really quickly...hurry, hurry!". Anyway, it went fine, and like I said before, I never felt the after burn which could of been due to the assistant giving me so many injections! But one interesting thing this new girl said was that after the treatments are done the tattoo will continue to fade, so I am now thinking does this mean I have to leave ink in there? Will there come a day where they are like, "let's take a break and see what happens"? Scary! I don't know how not to be nervous right now, but I was told this is when it really gets hard...and I feel it!

Any suggestions? Should I take a break, slow-up, or keep going?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bye, Bye Burn...

On this last treatment, the heat for the "black" laser was turned up to 9 which is one level under the max. I was freaked out for the potential healing implications, but it went well! I actually peeled today almost wholly. I usually take many days to peel entirely, and I don't even begin to peel until after seven days. I am only at day 6 today.  I am not sure how this happened, but this was the best bout of healing so far!

One of the best parts of this past week was that I didn't even feel the burn...not once. I am not sure if it has to do with the amount of heat harming my nerves so much I didn't even feel it or if I am adapting to the burn to where it doesn't even enter my consciousness anymore. Not sure? I just feel like it all flew by.

The only downside was the amount of bruising. Right away when I took off my bandages, the tattoo itself was purple (never seen that before), and it hurt to the touch instantaneously. I have often wondered what causes the bruise...the force of the pops...the heat of the laser? I am still not sure, but there was an increase in heat and an increase in the bruising atop the tattoo...so? I took some pictures of the purpleishness, but often when taking pictures of my tattoo, I will look back and realize the pics I took really were not good (too much glare..etc).

Some pics I really want to share are those right after a peel, because the tattoo looks pretty scarred and really pink. I thought it might help those persons just taking off the burnt skin for the first time feel a little better, because it gets a lot better. In a about four to five weeks, it will look a lot less tinted. (This is also why I cannot take progress pics until just before my next treatment.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Here I go again.....

Well, I can't believe I have already done this to myself seven times, but I am sitting icky with blisters again. Looking at the pics from each time to the next is getting less and less thrilling, but here is the side-by-side after #5 and after #6. Tell me if you notice a difference?

The one thing I see is a bit of browning (in the center) from getting too much sun, but apparently here in Arizona even avoiding direct sun exposure and wearing sunscreen under my clothes, doesn't appear to be enough to keep away a tan. Bummer!

I wanted some drama, so I made a pic showing my progress so far from beginning to now. This is the left side:

I mean I lost a lot of ink, but how persistent is this! My only recourse for happy thoughts is that maybe with a few or five more treatments and a tan - I think it will blend?

This is comforting, but the image on the right is a little darker than it should be!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Numero Six is Out of the Way

I just had treatment number six, and it went great as usual! I am getting used to the needle pricks and pops of the laser, but of course the PA does a great job of making sure I feel as little as possible (Thank you Jennifer!). 

This time (April 1, 2010) I finally remembered my camera, so I can share an "ash" photo. I guess this is my skin turning to ash...lol!

**Notice the instant swelling, as depicted by the bulge on the left side of my arm.  This is why bandaging the first night is an arduous task. It becomes my arm with a tennis ball and a tent a-top!

Here are some other photos while I was in the doctor's office, so you see what it was for me pre-six:

Here is the before and after for my last treatment, so the photo on the right was taken in the same place and time (for lighting purposes) as the one just before treatment number 5. You are therefore seeing the effects of one laser treatment, before and after treatment five.

Very subtle! It really exemplifies the whole reality that the laser "fades" the tattoo away.

Well...I'll keep you posted. Thanks for visiting, and a special Thank You to everyone who has left encouraging and supportive comments, I really appreciate it!

The Look of Peel!

This is a pic from my last peel session (after treatment # 5). 

I took this photo a week after my last treatment, but I must have forgotten about it. This image clearly shows the layer of dark, "burned", skin that lays over the tattoo and eventually peels off. It makes the fading process a real surprise, because I have no idea what's left under that skin.  I'm always excited to see!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moving Along After Number 5

Well, I had treatment number five as scheduled on Friday the 19th.  From that experience, I have a couple things to clear up.  The first is that when I asked about the max heat the PA said it was not the highest heat possible as far as the laser goes, but it was as hot I was going (that is the 755).  Secondly, she mentioned the "textural changes" might diminish or go away all-together. This does not mean it is not scarring - just that it is not permanent.

So here I am on day three post treatment, and the healing process is not the same as it has been.  I can say from these five treatments that the healing process is never the same even though nothing changed from session 4 to 5.  One thing I was told early on is that the laser responds to ink, so perhaps the healing process will never be the same from treatment to treatment, because the ink concentrations and locations are changing.  I think about this with the image of those uniform blisters in mind which in retrospect was a sign of even ink. Now, I get massively large blisters where the ink is darkest, and yet, I don't get any blisters in some areas, even where the laser hit it.  Very interesting! Also, this time around and to date (day 3), I have had almost no bleeding and no oozing.   The cleanest bandages so far, which is helping me make a change in wound maintenance.

Now, I am only changing my bandages once per day. During the last heal sessions, I was changing them twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening after my shower), but I started to get blisters from the tape I use to keep on the tefla pads.  The paper tape was ripping and rubbing at my skin causing reddness, blisters, and pigment changes.  Changing the bandage only once per day wouldn't have been possible if I had been bleeding and oozing like before, so I am glad to have this opportunity. My skin needs it!  The only caution I have for doing it once per day is that it requires more polysporin/bactatracin (spelling?) to keep the tattoo from drying out. 

Here's to hoping for a short heal time!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Side by Side ~ Tattoo Removal Before and After Only 4 Treatments!!

** After 4 Treatments **

Here is where I am at before treatment number 5 which I will be getting later today! If you look at the original pics from the dermatologists office, I am making some progress! How many treatments do you think I have left until I am done?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

!! I Finally Peeled !!

Well, I finally got that yuck skin off last night.  One thing I always notice is that the peel session really amps up the burning feeling (in general and to the touch).  I wonder why the brown layer coming off would have this effect, or how could having that skin on mask the intensity of the hot feeling if it was always there?  This time I am going to ice it (or put a cold beer on it in between sips) and see if the sensation will subside any faster.  This could improve the look of it...speed the healing...or just stop the burn!

Also, when I went in for treatment number four, the PA said, "OK, you have some textural changes" which in layman's term means the petal on my left (the one that is going away the fastest) is scarring.  Yes, if you hear, "textural change" that means you're headed to a scar if you're not careful.  I think it's taking more hits and rubbing due to the fact that I sleep on my back.  So, my goal this time around was to sleep on my stomach as much I could.  I figured wear away at the other petal, and maybe they will even out! Additionally, I used more cream on that area than before.

I will post a pic tomorrow of how I am looking.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pic Problems

I am trying to post some pics of my last treatment, but for some reason they are being flipped.  I guess I will just post them and change them later.

I wanted to post this one, because this is what I seen on day four and thought, "Woohoo, will all this pink and red my treatments are probably over!".

Not quite!  This is really what I am now looking at...more color! However, I think
  some of this color could be due to the bruising.

         This is good shot of those initial blisters, but
          it is also a good way to see how the
   laser really does not harm or puncture the skin.

I will say as far as healing goes that I am starting to itch which means that burned or "black" layer of skin will be ready to come off in a couple to a few days.  I really hope this isn't the start of two week long healing bouts...scary!

4th Treatment Done!!!

Well I had my 4th treatment done on Monday the 18th, so it has been exactly one week.  Usually at this point I am completely healed and done wearing bandages, but not this time.  For this treatment, I heard her say maximum heat at 755 or 752 (I can't remember), but I do remember the increase in pain.  Usually I can't feel a thing, but I did this time...a lot of pain.  It was not unbearable just more than usual.  Well the sensory difference wasn't the only I noticed to be different.  As soon as I took off the first bandage, I noticed a lot of blood, and I had large blisters already forming.  The last treatment I noticed a good reduction in bruising to where I had none that was visible (although I could feel it to the touch), but this time I have bruises equal to the 2nd treatment.  Where it is all around the tattoo, but the marks are not running down my arm as was the case post-treatment number one.  The strange thing is that I do not have any pain to the touch.  It is as if this time the damage to my arm is entirely, versus before where it almost felt as though my muscle was bruised.

I am not sure why I am not healed yet.  I think it probably has more to do with a greater intensity of the lasers than my immune system, but we will have to see.  I will definitely post when I am off the cream!  I feel I am almost at the stage where my skin gets foggy.  I am pretty sure that will happen soon, so looks like I am close.

I will post some pics of how it is looking now as soon as I can edit them. I can't wait to post an after I am healed!  Technically according to my consultation, I am half way done!!! Woohoo!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Progress Pics!!!

Sorry it has been so long since I posted, I won't let that happen again! I had a treatment done on December 3rd, and I was able to get my progress pics up until that point (3 treatments in)! I posted them below!

It's looking good so far, and I am happy with the work of the lasers each time I go. I have been warned that at treatment 5 or 6, which I will be nearing soon, can get depressing as the progress slows, but I am still pleased and happy to be trucking along! My last treatment went just as the others have. The only thing I really notice to be different is the bruising doesn't really show up anymore around the area surrounding the tattoo, but it seems as though I feel pain when I touch the actual tattoo area for many weeks after now. For example, it has been almost a month since my last treatment, and it still hurts to the touch as if there is deep-tissue damage. While I feel my skin is getting used to this, the tissue underneath seems to be wearing tired of getting zapped every six/eight weeks.

One thing I wanted to mention about me personally as it relates to my progress, I have been on immune suppressant drugs from the beginning of these treatments, because I have a "hyper-active" immune system which means I have an autoimmune disorder. So the reason I may be making such good progress is because my immune system is at the ready to destroy anything and everything. This also can complicate my progress, because my skin is slightly worse off or weak than normal tissue. I thought I would mention this, because it obviously has some effect. If things are not going for you perfectly similar to me, perhaps it is because I am not exactly functioning with the usual immune system. And what we know from these pigment targeted lasers is that they break-up the pigment molecules to be small enough for your immune system to cart them off and out. I can't say what difference this translates to, but maybe you can tell me your progress, so we can juxtaposition!

Thanks for the comments! I am glad to hear this is informative for people. My mission was to fill in the blanks of what to really expect when getting lasered, as the clinics just talk about the "minimal pain". I wanted real details, and I hope I am providing that to you! Good luck with your treatments, and let me know how it goes!