Friday, July 20, 2012

Scarring and the Deleted Comment....Oops!

Miss 2 sent me a comment, and I accidentally deleted it, as I now approve and reject comments from my email since I'm getting so much spam. 

I wanted to respond to the comment, because it is really in-line with my current thinking about this whole process and what's up and coming for me too. So I am posting the response here:

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your tattoo removal journey. I'm based in the UK and I'm black and I'm looking into getting a tattoo on my wrist removed. I'm really worried about the scarring because of my skin. Do you have any advice? Thanks 

Miss2, you are welcome, and thanks for reading!

I think you should count on some scarring, but I also think that you can count on most of the scarring fading in a year or two post your last treatment. I think it also depends on whether or not you hypo-pigment or hyper-pigment when you scar. Some people get dark scars (hyper-pigment), which might blend better given your skin tone. I hyper-pigment, so every scratch leaves a dark mark/scar that fades in a year or two (sometimes not entirely...I have marks that were scars in my childhood that remain today in the form of dark blobs). You may be the same or the opposite or both. I know some black people hyper-pigment after years of shaving or in the spots where thighs rub together, but when cut, darker people may hypo-pigment. It depends on the person. For me, I have actually been pleasantly surprised that the area around my tattoo has not been darker than it is. I am actually pigmenting/scarring less than I would if I were scratched. Yet on that same note, I have small parts within that area that are hypo-pigmented, and the PA thinks they may stay that way.

When I think about the two hypo-pigmented spots, which are about the size of a pencil eraser's head (relatively small), I can think back to times when I peeled my skin to soon or messed with that area when it was almost healed. So it makes me wonder if most of the scar-prevention can be controlled with healthy wound habits (not messing with it). I will admit though after that burned skin separates from the other layers it is really hard not to scratch and want to remove it. Basically, you have a moderate amount of control over your scarring, but you won't be able to prevent it all. I think most scarring takes the shape of textural changes, meaning your skin there will feel like a scar even if it doesn't look like one (I'm totally cool with that).

As far as your skin tone, when I first went for my consultation, I saw photos of black people with black ink tattoos (not sure how much color you have in the wrist tattoo), and it was pointed out to me that darker skin requires less treatments due to the remaining ink blending in with the darker skin. At a certain point with dark ink and dark skin, you can't tell that a little remains. Skin color varies greatly, so I'm also not sure you would get that same benefit. If I had darker skin, I don't think I would still be getting treatments. It's the tiny bits of black/green that remain that are haunting me!!!

At the point I started my treatments, I did not care if I had a giant scar, because I just wanted the thing gone. As I go along now, I really don't want to have a scar, but I have also settled into the notion that a scar of an old tattoo is much more tolerable than an old ugly tattoo. You may feel the same one day or not. People in my family used to love to repeat the phrase that 'a scar is a real man's tattoo', so I guess I am now just working on getting a real man's tattoo ;)

But seriously, my real advice would be to ask the clinic for pictures of people with similar skin color and ask what your options will be if there is a scar that you do not like at the end. My clinic is a dermatologist's office, so helping with skin issues is what they do. I have met others at the clinic who were getting lasered to help with improving the appearance of a scar, so how that works I am not sure, but you should ask. Lastly, I mentioned in a previous post that I will be getting a new laser next time. That laser is not to remove the tattoo but will be to improve the look of tattoo removal area. I do not know the exact specifics of it yet, but it will be moving or encouraging skin pigmentation in the right direction. I'll get more information as I move into the next phase, and hopefully that will help others whom, like yourself, don't want to live with scars either. As always, my best advice is: make sure that the person doing the treatments has a license to practice medicine (e.g. more educated than an RN) and is operating within a medical office and under the supervision of an M.D. that is qualified to do skin surgery (*remember: shit could go wrong and that laser could blow-up on your body)!

I'll keep you posted on my new laser and the potentials with that, and let me know what you decide and how it progresses!

Thanks again for taking the time to read this and write to me,