That’s right, friends–I used to be cool. So cool that I had a fake ID and I used it to get a tattoo when I was 17. A meaningless, flower tramp stamp tattoo. Hindsight really is 20/20. Thankfully, there are options for those of us who don’t want to keep our “permanent” ink these days. So, I began looking for tattoo removal in San Antonio, TX and started the surprisingly painful process of removing the tramp stamp. Let me start by saying that laser tattoo removal is an oversimplified term, in my opinion.
The Tattoo Removal Process
The purpose of the laser in tattoo removal is to break down the ink molecules of your tattoo into smaller pieces so your body can do what it usually does to foreign agents: get rid of them. The laser isn’t a magic wand that erases the tattoo. The laser is, literally, concentrated energy that gets shot into your skin to shake your tattoo ink apart. Yes, that is as painful as it sounds. But wait, there’s more. Because tattoos are meant to be permanent, the ink is multi-layered.
This multi-layering means you get to go in for multiple removal sessions because you have to give your skin time to heal and to remove the layer of ink you shook loose in your last session.
The healing will reveal another level to remove with a laser at your next session. Sessions are six to eight weeks apart to allow enough time for each layer to heal. I’ve been to a few sessions now for my tramp stamp. I’m happy I am going through this process, but I wish I would have thought about this while getting said tattoo. For anyone who is considering submitting their skin to this, here’s some honest information about what to expect through the process and the results.
What to Expect during Tattoo Removal
It turns out, the skin doesn’t love the feeling of laser beams beating it up, so there’s quite a bit of pain and healing that happens after each session. Imagine getting a tattoo and then getting another one in the same spot about 6-8 times. That’s basically how laser tattoo removal feels. Now, I work in healthcare. I knew this wasn’t going to be the pain-free, but I still wasn’t prepared. Thankfully, the staff at the clinic I’ve been going to for my removal is amazing. They gave me a pep talk about what to expect before they ever turned on the laser.
The pain is pretty intense–I’m not going to lie. However, it is temporary. My tramp stamp is pretty small, so the sessions are short. I can grit my teeth through it. The healing process is the interesting part and can vary depending on the size, age, quality and color of your tattoo.
The Healing Process of Tattoo Removal
Here’s what helped me get through the healing process for the skin on my lower back:
- Aftercare ointment
- Loose, cotton tank tops or t-shirts
- Cold compresses
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Low waisted pants
- A sense of humor and forgiveness for my younger self
What it Feels Like While Healing
If you’ve ever had a terrible sunburn, one that was bad enough to blister, then you can imagine how tender your skin will be after laser tattoo removal. It’s relatively common to experience redness, blistering, swelling, scabbing, itching and small amounts of bleeding for a few days up to a few weeks following each laser session. Initially, I experienced a lot of blistering, a ton. Enough that my firefighter husband who responds to car accidents even said it was “gross.” Apparently, this is more common with red inks, like the ones used to fill in the hideous flowers on my back. Fortunately, this is getting much better with each treatment.
My laser specialist bandages me up before I leave and gives me strict orders not to remove it for 8-12 hours. After that is when the fun begins! The area looks pretty scary at first and is certainly sensitive. I wear comfy scrubs with a waistband at work and stick with low waisted pants or sweats when at home.
I’d also recommend soft cotton t-shirts or tank tops during the healing process. I’m told to keep the area clean, dry and open to the air after removing that first bandage. You don’t want anything scratchy or textured rubbing your freshly lasered skin. Also, the blisters tend to pop or weep (gross, I know) and you are going to want to have something you can easily throw in the wash if that happens. No swimming or sun for a few days either, so make sure to schedule your appointments around any tropical vacations or pool parties. With the treatments so spread out, this is pretty easy to do.
Products to Help You Heal
MEDermis of San Antonio recommended this aftercare ointment for 3 days after treatment to help my skin heal. I bought a smaller bottle from them, and it lasted me quite a while. When I ran out, I switched to using my beloved Rejuveniqe Oil, which I think works just as was well, if not better.
But, always be sure to check with your laser removal clinic before applying anything to your freshly treated tattoo. Through the discomfort, inconvenience, and cost of this process, I’ve tried to remind myself that you’re only young once.
While I’m ready to be able to bend down and not worry about whether or not my shirt is still covering the tramp stamp on my back, I am grateful that I’ll always have this funny story about my younger self’s poor decision-making to share with my kids. I’m still in contact with the friend who got it with me, so it’s fun to talk about. I also have several friends undergoing laser tattoo removal currently and it’s been nice to be able to swap war stories.
Find a Good Tattoo Removal Clinic, Seriously
There are some risks with tattoo removal. There’s a possibility of scarring and burning, which is why it’s essential that you go to a reputable tattoo removal specialist. Often, the site of your tattoo will need numbing before they use the laser, so you also want to be sure that the clinic you are using is clean and the personnel has had proper training in how to do this type of procedure.
Tattoo Removal in San Antonio, TX
For all of my local friends, you can’t go wrong with MEDermis. They are by far the best tattoo removal in San Antonio, TX and they have a location in Austin, TX as well. They have been awesome through my tattoo removal process so far, and I can’t recommend them enough. Their staff is professional, knowledgeable, friendly, and everything you could ask of the people who are going to shoot you with a laser for months on end.
If anyone has questions for me about my tattoo removal experience, I’m an open book. Feel free to send me a message, and I’ll answer what I can, or just commiserate with you if you’re getting your ink lasered. Us teenage rebels have to stick together, after all.