Courtesy Grace SpencerBack when I was young and dumb, I went through my quarter-life crisis early. As a junior in college, I realized I was on the brink of becoming a responsible adult. And the idea terrified me. So when my best friend and her mom (a long story) suggested we get tattoos, I eagerly agreed.
I wanted a tattoo as a lifelong reminder that, at that point in my life, I was a fearless rule breaker and the tat would serve as visual proof.
While I now regret my tattoo, I did two smart things when I got inked: 1) I got it near my hip bone in a spot that never sees the light of day—even at the beach, the full-coverage bikinis that I favor cover it. 2) I decided on a globe, because I figured the world would always be something I love. I was right on that count.
For the first 10 or so years I had it, I loved it. In college, it marked me as the badass I hoped it would. It gave me an excuse to coquettishly unzip my pants and show it off, which was risqué, sure, but stopped well short of full on nudity.
Along the way, the thrill wore off and it became a part of me. I didn’t mind it, but I didn’t really love it either. Because it was in a place that no one could see (besides myself and a boyfriend or two), I just didn’t think about it that much.
Flash forward about 100 years and I’m a married mom of two living in the suburbs with a dog, and two Volvos. I’m now more of a responsible adult than my 20-year old self could have ever imagined, tattoo or no.
But it’s really those two kiddos who are my motivating factor for wanting to get my tattoo removed. Their little bodies are so gorgeously perfect, I would be devastated if they chose to mar them with permanent colored ink. I strive to set a positive example on all fronts, especially when it comes to how they treat their bodies—and that includes not getting a tattoo.
For a while, when either my son or daughter would point to it with wonder, I had been able to pass it off to as a birthmark. But recently my son told my brother-in-law that “Mommy has a tattoo.” The jig was up.
But there were still a few factors standing in my way from getting it removed. Namely, as a busy working mom, I barely have time to do the things I want to do (like get my hair cut) or need to do (like go to the dentist). I also have a laundry list of expenses and I was afraid of the pain.
This silicone patch is infused with perfluorodecalin, an ingredient in skin moisturizers. The patch allows the dermatologist to make several passes with the laser that removes the tattoo—and no having to wait around a half-hour for your skin to calm down or, worse for me, require numerous office visits to finish the procedure. In clinical trials, patients said the removal process was less painful with the patch, and they healed faster with it. And 65 percent of tattoos that were treated with the patch disappeared faster than without it. Sign me up!
The removal process
I went to my regular dermatologist, Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, and President and Co-Founder of Modern Dermatology. She first numbed the area with several injections of lidocaine. The needle was super thin, so it was barely even a pinch. She then did a quick test with the Cynosure Pico Alex Laser to make sure I couldn’t feel anything (I couldn’t). She applied the patch, we both put on our protective goggles and she got started.
Courtesy Grace SpencerThe first pass with the laser took less than five minutes. She went from top to bottom and left to right. Before my appointment, my biggest concern was with how much pain I would experience, but I literally couldn’t feel a thing.
When she was done with the first pass, she lifted the patch, showed me the progress, put it back down and started on the second pass. This is where the benefit of the patch comes in. Without it, you have to wait at least 20 minutes between passes.
Courtesy Grace SpencerAfter the second pass I was really excited by the reduction in color of the tattoo. It looked as if someone had taken a giant eraser and had a go at making it disappear.
When Dr. Robinson was done, she applied Neosporin and a bandage to keep the area safe from bacteria. All in all, from my front door to the doctor’s office for the treatment and back again, it took a grand total of 60 minutes.
A few hours later, it hurt a bit—like I had a mild sunburn. It was definitely more comfortable to be in sweatpants than a constricting pair of jeans. I reapplied Neosporin and stuck on a new bandage every night for the next three nights.
Courtesy Grace SpencerI’ve since had two more removal treatments with the Describe PFD Patch. And while I have to admit, I was hoping it would be done by now, (I’m impatient) I am pleased with the progress. The takeaway: Think 10x before you even consider getting a tattoo! If you do want one but ultimately decide to remove it, ask your doctor about a tattoo removal patch—it’s a time and money saver.