Surprisingly enough, I waited until I was 18 to get my first tattoo. My dad and I have a really good relationship, and I respect his wishes...most of the time...so when he asked me to wait, I did. The thing is, even as an 18 year old, I didn't really know who I was, what my aesthetic looked like, or even what I wanted to do with my life. But the excitement of finally being legal, and having the reigns of life fully within my hands, was a bit much...and I ended up walking into a tattoo shop with only a vague idea of what I was doing and way too much cash.
I had just read The Orchid Thief and was in full obsessive swing. In fact, my first two tattoos were orchids. My first one I love. My second one, on my back, had a boyfriend of mine wake up one morning to tell me he had a dream about a man eating vagina orchid with green tentacle arms. I pretty much hated this tattoo from the get go...and it's not even that bad! It's also not the tattoo artists fault...sometimes we just make dumb decisions. This tattoo was one of mine.
So, when Bethany of Clean Canvas More Art was brought up by friends at Greenpoint Tattoo Co and Fun City, I thought about it for a long time. Here was a person even tattoo artists trusted, and although I wavered between "Why not just get a cover up?" and "But it's gonna hurt soooo bad..." I finally realized that a cover up would be massive and thick with ink. I love illustrative style so I'd just end up with another piece I wasn't totally into. And the pain is temporary so, I finally hit Bethany up. It was the right choice for me.
To be fair: I have an extremely high pain tolerance. When I got my palms tattooed it felt like I was petting sand paper. No big deal. So, when I say the laser didn't hurt that bad, you may have a completely different experience. That being said, it lasted maybe 15 minutes for a big ass tattoo, and it was totally worth it. Sometimes life is painful. This is no different, except that at the end of it...you're able to completely erase a bad choice. How often do you get that opportunity, eh? It will take a few sessions...but in about a year, I'll be able to get a back tattoo I actually really want to show off.
As for healing, and care: I am lucky in this respect as well. I heal very quickly and religiously use Dexeryl on every abrasion and tattoo. It helps a lot, and I swear it speeds recovery. Bethany also gives you very defined instructions, as well as a kit, to help deal with the aftermath of your laser tattoo removal session. She'll answer any questions or concerns. She is extremely communicative and this helped put me at ease. I was expecting some really gross blisters, but instead I only got the burning, itching feeling that you get with sunburns and new ink. Even one week after the first session, I can already see the ink breaking down...the black outline is being eaten away, and the colors are fading.
There are definitely some nightmare stories related to laser tattoo removal: a friend was getting lasered and tattooed at the same time at regular intervals, like monthly, for about a year and one day woke up with a golf ball sized bump near his liver...it was the ink his body didn't know how to manage. Or like people who use removal creams...which is literally like dipping your skin in acid. Terrifying. But again, you should listen and care for your body. Laser tattoo removal should be something you really think about, research, and take your time with. Trust whoever does your removal, just like you hopefully trust your current tattoo artist, and treat your body with respect. Ask questions, listen....and look forward to feeling freed from something that, at least for me, made me feel bummed about my body. Removal is a process just like getting tattooed, and I promise: it is totally 100% worth it.