My Experience Lightening and … – Tattoos & Piercings

I hated both of my arm tattoos. I tried several home solutions to remove them before doing laser. I'm sharing my experience and my results.

I wrote this article detailing the process I went through after getting a tree tattoo that I wasn't very happy with. I also had an older barbed wire tattoo that I wanted to get rid of.

I researched every possible method to remove or lighten them both. I wanted to find something that wouldn't cause me too much pain and that wouldn't scar horribly. I wasn't sure what was going to work, so I tried a lot of different things. Home tattoo removal worked with fading and lightening, but it was slow and didn't completely erase my tats. In the end, lasering the tattoo was the most effective solution for me.

If you still want to try some DIY tattoo removal methods, read about the results I had with each before you try any of them.

The white spots are the salicylic acid. The tree looks lighter overall but I cannot be sure if it's from my treatments or if it was going to lighten to this level on its own anyway.

I started using these a few days after getting the tree tattoo.

I thought using an exfoliating cream every day might help fade the barbed wire. Glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant derived from sugar and works by sloughing off skin, so I thought it could fade the tattoo.

At only 10%, it was probably not strong enough for me to see any sort of change, but I also put it on the tree tattoo as well to try and lighten it.

This is a skin-lightening product that contains emblica, which has the same effect as hydroquinone (a skin lightener), but emblica is safer to use. I am fairly certain that some of the official tattoo removal creams contain emblica. This process took some time as results did not show for weeks after I began.

I started with those two products while I was still researching other options. Exfoliating with glycolic acid and lightening with emblica seemed like a good start, but I did not see fast results. I needed a much higher dose of glycolic acid to see fast results. I went shopping again, but I continued to use these products.

I figured I'd need to open the skin before using this as the instructions say to scrub off the top portion of your wart and then apply the salicylic acid, meaning it needed to get under the skin to work. 20% salicylic acid will burn like crazy when put on an open wound. Keep that in mind!

I needed a way to open up my skin so the wart treatment could get under it. Yes, this hurt. It wasn't so much the rubbing away of the skin but applying the acid into it that will burn your brains out.

I only rubbed away a small portion of my barbed wire, as a test. I plan on doing this slowly, in small spots. This is unlike going to a dermatologist who will use a sander on your entire tattoo during your dermabrasion tattoo removal appointment.

As I did more research, I found out some other helpful information.

I learned that Vaseline is horrible on new tattoos and will draw the ink out, so of course, I had to get some. I had no idea if it would effect my barbed wire tattoo since it was older. But I reasoned that if my barbed wire had a wound in it, it might draw the ink out since the new tattoo is just a big wound.

It is also not a good idea to smother your new tattoo. It's best to keep it dry and let it heal on it's own. I was doing everything in reverse here.

This is another big no-no to put on new tattoos, so, of course, I put it on.

This was probably my craziest experiment. I put this on a small portion of my barbed wire and left it there. Then, I put on salicylic acid afterwards. When it was dry, I added Polysporin and Vaseline and covered it.

Then, I let it air out and form a scab. I had no idea whether Nair was actually doing anything while it was on my skin. I couldn't feel anything. I only felt something when I took it off. Then, I realized it had indeed burned my skin.

Does Home Tattoo Removal Work?

If done consistently, natural methods and creams do fade tattoos over time, but they cannot completely remove tattoos.

I went to a laser tattoo removal consultant three weeks after getting the tree tattoo. We did a few tests to see how well I would deal with the pain, and it was okay!

Some of the barbed wire tattoo is already in the process of going bye-bye. As for the tree, I'd never be able to pay for that to be removed. I am planning on adding light, interesting colors to brighten it so that it doesn't look so black and fierce.

I will continue the creams on the tree, but as for the barbed wire, it's going to be lasered.

After one small laser treatment session, I think this portion of the barbed wire is practically gone. If it's that easy to get rid of it, I'm ecstatic!

How does it feel? Like nothing really. It's a small area, and I can't say I have even noticed any pain. Easy!

I'm still trying to lighten the tree up as much as I can at this point. I did a round of salicylic acid which lightly scabbed up the portion of the tree that I worked on. I'm thinking about getting a portion of the tree removed by laser as well.

After 1 session of laser.

I had my second laser session done, and this one hurt bad!

She did a larger area of the barbed wire. You have to try to remember to breathe during this, but I couldn't. My whole body was stiff, and I didn't breathe the whole time. It was almost like going to the dentist, but when it's done, it's fine.

The pain won't stop me from continuing my quest! I have one more section of barbed wire to do, and then I start on the tree!

This is the first section of barbed wire I had done. It's only a few weeks after that session and look how light it is! There are still six more weeks of healing and lightening to go.

I am pretty amazed at how much lighter the barbed wire is after only a few weeks of one laser session. I definitely won't need many treatments here.

I have also decided to laser off the entire branch right next to the barbed wire. Without the barbed wire there, it'll be a little easier for me to take off a bunch of branches and flowers.

I continue to lighten the entire tree at home, but I have to stop on the areas I'm going to get the laser on. I still work on the parts I can work on when I can. If I can at least lighten it as much as possible before the laser, I'll hopefully need less treatments on the tree.

Results after first laser session.

This part of my barbed wire has lightened considerably and still has a long time to go to lighten up even more. I am very happy with the results after just two laser sessions.

I still need to do the bottom of my arm and for that I bought some Emla, which is a numbing cream because I know that it's going to be painful!

The pain I felt this time was nothing compared to my old barbed wire removal session! I was very pleased to say the least. I really had no idea how well it would lighten because it was a brand new tattoo, but I really wanted this part removed along with all the little flowers.

I'm going for a less busy look, but I might even be moving towards removing the entire tree now. I'm still not happy with it at all. The only part I like is a tiny little butterfly that I don't feel the urge to remove. I'm glad I'm getting this far!

It's usually every two weeks that I get a section done. The healing process is nothing to complain about, and this whole process is easy and quick with fast results.

After getting my tree lasered.

It's been slow going, but I am really happy with what I have gotten done so far. Below is an updated picture of the part of the tree that I had lasered. I am so surprised that it is as light as it is now since it is a brand new tattoo.

I still use all my creams but never on freshly lasered areas. I'm still exfoliating and lightening.

Healing from this one has been the hardest! I have never been so itchy in all of my life. The other areas that I got done never itched this bad. I am really hoping that I do not decide to get rid of the entire tree. I think that with enough "tweaking" I will like it.

Updated photo of tree after getting it lasered

Side by side comparison. The difference is awesome. On the left is the first day I got the tat, on the right is about 2+ months of constantly using my creams and doing laser treatment.

After all my experimentation, it was the laser that got the tattoo off as much as it has. Nothing else really worked. I am very amazed at the progress! Honestly, I can't say anything bad about the results I've had so far with the laser.

Note: If you'd like to read up on my initial thoughts before undergoing this procedure, check out my article on Attempting to Remove a Tattoo at Home.

I've decided to laser off the entire tree! This is a few days after getting the laser. (Notice how faded the barbed wire is too! That is just from one session.)

After lasering.

Concentrated beams of light or energy penetrate your skin and break the ink into tiny fragments that are then disposed of by your body's immune system.

The range is $200 to $500 per session. The price will depend on the size and difficulty of the tattoo design. In order to completely erase a tattoo, you will need anywhere from six to ten sessions. Together, the whole tattoo removal procedure can cost $1,500 to $5,000.

Yes, it hurts. The pain of removal is similar to the pain felt when getting a tattoo. People describe the feeling as being similar to getting splattered with hot bacon grease or having a rubber band snapped against their skinit can hurt, but it's bearable.

The only thing I have to complain about is the itching! It's practically unbearable, but I deal with it and try not to scratch at all because I don't want scarring.

Different wavelengths are needed to remove different colors. If the incorrect wavelength is used, the color will not absorb it and the ink will not shatter. Whether you choose Q-switch or Picosure will depend on the color of your tattoo.

The side effects of tattoo removal may include:

My skin healed very quickly and easily afterwards. Here are some tips on how to heal your skin after laser removal.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the authors knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

ivan on June 17, 2020:

I bought a machine here( http://www.odilaser.com ), the effect is the same as mentioned above, laser tattoo removal effect is very good.

Maria on March 10, 2020:

I just want to know where youre located at and what is the address from this company can you please text me back soon

Butterfly21078 on September 23, 2019:

Do NOT do this! I followed this horrible advice and now I have two quarter size holes in my arm in the middle of my new tattoo. Just wait and have it fixed or covered up.

GregPsycho on May 30, 2019:

Nice, Demented Are Go!

anonymous on January 23, 2019:

Removal ideas please

David on October 21, 2018:

I hope no one takes your advice on new tattoo care. Dont let your tattoo dry out!!!! The scabs will crack and bleed which leaves you with scars! Not good for a tattoo. Nappy rash cream is the best thing to use on a new tattoo!!!

Linda Persons on September 23, 2018:

Thank you so much for the time that you put into this post. You are awesome and I think this is the only thing that I've read that I can trust.

A guy! on September 15, 2018:

This is my second day of having the tattoo, how soon did you start applying hydrogen peroxide after getting the tattoo?

Rita on August 02, 2018:

Pls help me i realy need ur help with this cause soon i will be geeting married and my husband dont know that i have this thing on my body so pls i realy need someone to help me out i had a tatoo 3 years ago and now i dont when it again pls help me some one

Josh on April 23, 2018:

Thank you lady for taking the time to share your experience with the rest of us who are still grieving over the day we got that damn tat on our body now that we are older & don't want it.

I'm saving up for the laser removal too, mine is 40 yrs old.

Cynthia on October 04, 2017:

Can you post a picture update on this? how many sessions? how long?

Dee on March 07, 2017:

I had a tattoo covered a week ago. What a mess it is now! I plan to have pico laser treatments since its all black ink. Is this the laser you had for those results? Looks great! Gives me some hope!

Mike on October 11, 2016:

Use salt and a rag and slowly rub it in

Chris Owen on July 09, 2015:

Was an awesome tattoo god knows why you wanted it gone in the first place.

thanks on January 17, 2015:

Thanks for sharing. I was researching how much fade is possible at home using glycolic acid, etc and this is very helpful.

Nas on May 21, 2014:

Can you please tell me what kind of laser they are using for your removal. I have had 4 treatments done and see no difference except the expense. I really would appreciate any help ypu can give.

Lala on April 10, 2014:

Hey Jenna I just read through your process, I am going through a similar experience and I really would love to talk to someone about this who understands. I see your post was three years ago but if there is any way that you get this, and would be willing to talk to me about it, my email is lcourt2@students.towson.edu. Hope it all turned out well for you!

Catherine Taylor from Canada on July 16, 2012:

I'm glad that you discovered that the only thing that really works to remove a tattoo is laser treatment. You're other treatments sounded down right scary. There is nothing worse then a bad tattoo..oh wait there is, skin infection and permanent scaring. Hope your tattoo removal journey ended well.

Jenna (author) from Halifax, NS on June 17, 2012:

ok people.....i gave up trying to get this thing off myself.. once i had my first laser session there was not going to be anything else that was going to work for me..honestly laser is AWESOME and the only real good way to go. and it DOESN'T SCAR! the sd white and neostrata stuff made my skin really soft n smooth lol i'm not sure where i'd be right now if i was still using it on the tat....the sd white is a skin lightener but the tattoo is under the skin quite a bit..so i dont know if i got it light with that or it just got lighter on it's own..hard to tell...but LASER PEOPLE!!! only way!!!!!!!!!!

nick on April 06, 2012:

just wondering if you found anything that worked good besides laser surgery that i can try at home:]

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My Experience Lightening and ... - Tattoos & Piercings

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