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Think Before You Ink: My Painfully Expensive Tattoo Removal Process

This post is a cautionary tale for my younger readers that comes from my own personal experience. At the age of 15 ½, I figured I was almost 16 and therefore an adult who could make wise decisions that I would be happy living with for the rest of my life. One of those decisions included getting a tattoo. I wasn’t really sure what kind of tattoo I wanted, but I knew it had to be a reflection of who I was as a person (deep).

I decided on Chinese writing. Yup that’s right, apparently I thought that Chinese writing loosely translating into “individuality” was someting that I would love and appreciate for the rest of my life. Skip ahead 17 years and I am on the 7th of my 8 tattoo removal sessions, and shit hurts. I had seen tattoo removal offers on Groupon that had piqued my interest in ridding myself of this dark black blob that I had gotten accustomed to seeing etched into my body, but which also no longer in any way reflected the person I’ve become. Since I had heard horror stories of people being burned and scarred by tattoo removal sessions, I decided to go see a woman who had removed the tattoo of a friend in midtown manhattan.

I purchased 5 sessions for $400 after being told by Carol at Smooth that since it was black, the easiest color to remove, it may only take 5 sessions. I was thrilled – even though the tattoo cost about $80 to get, $400 to no longer have what looked like a takeout menu on my abdomen seemed like a deal. The sessions had to be paced out about a month apart since the laser penetrates the skin to break up the ink so that your body can pick it up and take it away.

Tattoo removal is one of the most painful experiences ever. Here’s the video from my first session: tattoo removal video

It feels like someone is burning your skin off with every zap, because essentially that’s whats happening. The process takes only a few moments (depending on the size of your tattoo), but feels like an eternity. When the 5 sessions were up and the tattoo was definitely no where near being gone, I was forced to purchase 3 more sessions for the original price I had paid per session, bringing the total price of the removal up to $640. More than I was hoping this would cost, but still less than many of her competitors.

The issue now is hypopigmentation – which is the damaged skin cells remaining white in color. I’m hoping over time that the color returns and there is no trace of the removal, but only time will tell. I’ve attached a pic for you to see the results after 7 sessions.


tattoo removal result

Bottom line. Think before you ink. Make sure that whatever you decide on is something that you will love forever. Steer clear of your boyfriend/husband/cats name, oh and maybe re-think Chinese writing.



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