The gradient laser removal project started August 17, 2007 when Adam Walsh of Hold Fast tattooed the bars on the inside of my right arm. We chose 9 because an approximate spacing of a half-inch seemed to work well aesthetically, and 8 treatments seemed to be a reasonable estimation to remove a black tattoo.
I began treating the tattoo on September 19, 2007. This was of course quite soon to start the removal, but the process was as much about experimentation as it was to show my clients how the process worked. As you can see by the first treatment, the ink was quite resilient, breaking down in an uneven fashion. This result is actually fairly uncommon, usually only seen when treating newer tattoos. Also, in treatment number two you can see an unusual result. The white patch on the right side of the bar was from a scab that I accidentally pulled off. Of course total ink removal is a plus, but I could have been left with a scar. Thankfully I was not.
Treatments three through five all went as planned with only one constant issue. The 9th bar, and sometimes number 8, would often blister post treatment. This was most likely attributed to heat generated by my bicep touching the area when my arm was bent. Treatment six also went as planned with another minor problem. Again I accidentally pulled a scab from the area. This time however the area did not loose color. In fact, the opposite happened. The scab was more superficial and the underlying dermis was exposed leaving a very dark area in the tattoo. It took a few months, but in time the epidermis regenerated and the color evened out.
Treatments seven and eight went well. I increased the energy quite a bit to knock out as much color as possible. I was a bit more aggressive than normal, but the project was nearing completion and results needed to be more dramatic if possible. Bar number 9 is not perfect. There is still a bit of tattoo ink left, the tissue feels slightly different and depending on ambient temperature the area will turn red at times.
The removal project ended with the final laser treatment on February 17, 2009 and the outlines tattooed on April 2, 2009. Overall I am happy with the final product with one minor exception. As can be seen in the photo, the bars that were once straight and symmetrical, have changed shape dramatically as they were progressively treated.
In time the bars will continue to fade and the outlines will soften. So, in the future I will be updating the photo and possibly the story behind the project.
Credit and Special Thanks to Stacy Potter for the photo.