A lot of what I've previously written about tattoo removal was from research I did on the Internet. I'd always wanted to have a conversation with someone who truly gone through the process for a prolonged period of time and who could speak from a decent basis of experience. This past week I had that conversation and it happened at a time and place I never would've expected.
This past week I went to an eyeglass frame store, and was ordering two new pairs of glasses. When I went in I was wearing a long summer sun dress that had spaghetti straps and left my tattoo upper arms and shoulders bare. The girl who helped me place my order commented on my tattoos, and then mention she herself had some tattoos but had been undergoing extensive laser removal for the last two years. She pulled up one of her long sleeves and showed me some of the work on her forearm. She said the work had been done when she was very young and while she was very happy being tattooed, that sleeve just wasn't the person she was anymore.
The work on her forearm was primarily just a black work, and although she'd been undergoing laser removal for the better part of the last 24 months much of that work was still visible. She remarked how she felt that many tattoo removal advertisements are misleading. I commented that the people shown in the before and after were like a weight-loss commercials, they were always the people who had the atypical perfect results. She agreed with my statement and talked about how when she first started out the lasers were as good as they are now. The first doctor she saw for laser treatment had the older style laser and she remarked that there was lots of bleeding and it was much more painful. The newer lasers in the new doctor she seen have been more successful at breaking up the ink embedded in her skin.
I told her that I had heard the best way to estimate laser tattoo removal costs is to say it's going to cost 10 times as much as the tattoo cost to put on and take 10 times as much time for the removal. She said she felt that was a very good way to explain it to people who were not undergoing the process, but she also said for people with extensive tattooing those estimates are probably going to be higher. She remarked how some people get scars from the treatment, and how although they can sometimes administer lidocaine, it really is an uncomfortable procedure to undergo. She also commented that part of your immune system response will determine how well your body is able to get rid of the particles of ink when they are shattered into even smaller pieces.
This whole conversation took place in and around filling out all the paperwork and measuring my eyes for their new eyeglasses. When I went back a week later to pick up the finished lenses that same girl happened to be in the store. She told me she had just begun getting a new tattoo work to cover the faded work that was the result of the laser removal process. She pulled up her sleeve and showed me crisp, beautiful bold outlines of her new forearm piece. She said she was surprised that even with none of the fill work done, already the new lines were making the remnants of her previous tattooing disappear, as though the I just didn't notice it. I may just have to stop by in another week or two, and see how her new sleeve is progressing.