Tattoo Removal

I love that nowadays when people say “you know, tattoos will be on your body forever….”, I can quickly retort with a big fat “No, they aren’t forever!  There is such a thing as tattoo removal”.

I got my first tattoo 20+ years ago, back before they were as accepted as they are today.  I had gotten my first tattoo on a weekend and went back to work on Monday.  No one said anything about my tattoo (it was visible, but not in a right-in-your-face location).  Sometime later that day, my boss came to me and said that another high-level employee approached HIM and said “did you know your employee has a tattoo?!?”.  As my boss told me this, I panicked.  What had I done?  Was he going to tell me it has to always be covered?  How could I manage that??!?  Instead, my boss said he had laughed it off to this guy and responded with “…and what’s your point??? (about my employee having a tattoo)”.  Phewf.  Glad he was accepting of my new ink!  But from then on, my radar was up and I knew that not everyone was open to body ink.  I was self-conscious about it, knowing that people were probably looking at it.  Although it didn’t change how much I liked my tattoo.

I didn’t get any additional tattoos for a very long time.  It was about 15 years later that I got my second tattoo.  Quickly followed by my third….then fourth…then fifth…now I’m up to nine.  I love them all….except the location / color of two of them.  One was on the inside of my finger, and the other on the inside of my wrist.  I did initially like them both for a while.  I started to gravitate, though, toward covering the one on my wrist, every day at work.  The color just really grabbed people’s attention right away, and might have distracted from whatever I was trying to communicate.  And the one on my finger was just as much of a distraction.  I prefer my tattoos that are totally concealed, or at least partially concealed.

I researched tattoo removal and quickly figured out that cheap isn’t necessarily good.  And a tattoo removal “spa” might not be the safest route to go.  I chose a plastic surgeon who had already successfully removed hundreds of tattoos (probably even thousands).   He was well known as an expert in tattoo removal.

I’m already 6 treatments in, having started the treatments nearly a year ago (July 2017).  What I’ve learned about the process….

  1. This isn’t a “one and done” event.  Like I said, I’ve already had 6 treatments done on the two tattoos.  I’ve seen a lot of fading, and some areas are completely gone.  But there are still some lingering areas that will need a few more treatments.
  2. It hurts.  Yeah, in the consultation they talk about what the treatment feels like.  They explain that the sensation feels like a rubber band being snapped on your skin.  What they don’t tell you is that it’s super intense.  Like you just want to scream out your deepest, darkest secrets just to make the treatment stop.  I did have the option of having the areas numbed via injection before the treatments (extra $), but I get through the treatment without it.  If the tattoos were bigger, I’d probably go with the numbing injection.  (And btw, at one of my treatment sessions, the doctor’s assistant told me that the patient to me that morning had passed out, and the patient before that nearly passed out (doc had to stop the treatment and tend to the patient’s almost-passed-out-state instead).  So yeah, it’s definitely not an easy treatment to go through suffer through.
  3. It takes a while to heal after each session.  The first time I did a treatment, I was really grossed out by the tattoo sites.  They had bigblood blisters, and a swollen, angry-looking red area all around (I’ll save you from the gross-out factor and not post THOSE pictures).  About 7 days later, I started to panic, thinking that my wrist and finger will look that way forever.  I thought, will I ever heal before the next treatment?  By about day 10, the scabs fell off.  The itching eventually resolved.  I found that for the tattoo on my finger,  it seemed that the tattoo spread out a bit…the lines got somewhat fatter as the treatments progressed.  Might be the ink breaking down and spreading out a tad.  Who knows.
  4. It’s not an exact science.  The laser has to be set based on the colors of the tattoo (it’s original state…the colors that were used by the tattoo artist).  The tattoo might not respond much to the laser if the setting isn’t right.  For one of the sessions, the doctor did half of the wrist tattoo at one setting, and half on the other setting (the same colors were used throughout the entire tattoo).  He compared the two sides at my next treatment, and used the setting that produced the better result.  But even then, some areas of the tattoo (for example, the tattoo border, which was the same exact color throughout), were stubborn and didn’t break down much after certain treatments.  This meant that the tattoo faded at different rates in different areas.  And another thing, they can’t predict how many treatments you will need.  It really depends on the tattoo and how your body responds.
  5. It’s expensive.  For the small tattoo on my wrist and the teeny tiny one on my finger, it’s about $350 for each treatment.  And like I said, I’ve done 6 treatments.  That’s a ‘whole lotta dough’.

Do I regret these tattoos?  No.  If I couldn’t get the tattoo removal for some reason, I could keep covering them easily.  A ring and some bracelets do the trick nicely.  What’s cool is that I can say I’ve had tattoos removed (and survived).  I’ll have that response ready for the next person that says “tattoos are forever, you know”.


REVIEWS: The fix for my baggy under-eyes

I started writing this post on Thursday, my first day being a non-employee. I had worked with a toxic group of people for over 3 years, and had reached my limit. The 2 weeks notice period was painful! Not sure what the future holds for me, but my first day off the job was spent getting my hair cut, and round 3 of filler injections (3 out of 4 filler steps). It’s weird to think I was excited about someone sticking needles in my face and injecting donated fat!

How did I get here? Well, it all started out with tattoo removal. Then hair removal. Then fillers! I progressed through the various treatment options the same way I expect many other clients have done. Start with one treatment, see the advertising in the waiting room and lobby for other services, and what the heck, let’s give it a go! A pesky little tattoo that I didn’t like, eventually morphed into me fixing my dark, baggy circles under my eyes.

I was getting laser hair removal by the technician one day and asked her for a recommendation. I asked “What could I do to fix these under-eye bags that made me look like I’ve been on a heroin bender for the last 3 weeks?” She responded with “fillers”. Great. Not the answer I was looking for. I was hoping they had some awesome under-eye cream, or some quick and magic treatment to fix my problem. Fillers? They’ve terrified me ever since I watched the show called “Botched”. I have a fondness for Dr. Terry Dubrow (one of the star doctors on the show). He’s like the “Boob Whisperer”. I’d love to have him build me a new set. I’m addicted to that show. But I digress.

The laser hair removal tech did give me a recommendation for an eye cream, which I tried. $90 for a little container. About 6 weeks later and no change…I started seriously considering fillers. I booked a consult appointment first. The consult appointment was with 2 doctors’ assistants. Not sure what their training was. They thought I’d need two Juvederm products. One Juvederm product for the under eye area (can’t remember the product name), and Juvederm’s “Voluma” product for cheek area. Next step was an appointment with the doctor. I booked it right after the consult…feeling both excited and terrified at the same time.

My daughter and I have watched Botched for years, and have talked about “what would you have done” if you decided to have plastic surgery. Boobs aside, I’ve always hated my under-eyes. I’ve never felt comfortable without loads of concealer on before I’d walk out the door. And worse, I couldn’t stand to be without concealer, even in my own home without any prospect of seeing another person. I didn’t even want to look in the mirror at myself with my under-eyes the way they were. I knew I needed some kind of help.

When I finally got to see the doctor, he explained that with my dark veins under the eyes, and my face structurally, he couldn’t do what I was advised in the consult appointment. He said I basically didn’t have any cheeks. The idea of my face are essentially totally flat. No “apples” or cheeks to speak of. It’s not like I had cheeks earlier in life and they went away…I just never had them to start with! He said he needed to “build a cake” kind of approach…Allofill (a type of filler) and Voluma… and that it would take time to allow things to “settle and build up”. He explained his recommended treatment plan (see below). So my first treatment was Allofill to start the base layer for cheeks.

My treatment plan:

Step 1: Allofill to start building cheeks and “cheek apples”

Step 2: Voluma along the cheek bones

Timing = 4-6 weeks after step 1

Step 3: Allofill under the eyes

Timing = 5-6 weeks after step 2

Step 4: Allofill for cheek apples

Timing = 6 months after step 1

The first treatment session started with the doctor numbing my face. Basically right along the cheekbone line and a little bit above and below. He let the numbing stuff work for a bit and then he came back to start the procedure. This was the Allofill treatment, which is donated fat cells. The filler is frozen and needs time to thaw first, about 30 minutes. Yes, donated fat cells from screened donors. The doctor was going to inject that to my face. What the heck did I sign up for? I have been desperate for a cure to my dark under-eye bags for YEARS, so I guess that’s why I went along with it!

The doctor uses a cannula, which is like a thick syringe. The product is inserted using a “fanning” motion (think of those fan-shaped makeup brushes. The way the brush hairs fan out from the brush base is the same direction the doctor inserts the filler.).

For the most part I only felt pressure of the cannula moving under my skin. Only when he got close to my under eye area (the base of my eye socket), it got a bit sensitive. The hard part was keeping my eyes open so the doctor could see where my bags were at, and where he needed to put the filler. Whenever I’m getting any kind of medical procedure, I always close my eyes. It’s my way of dealing with pain, discomfort, and fear. Keeping my eyes open was mentally difficult.

The procedure was done after what seemed like 10 minutes. The doctor handed me a mirror to see the results. Right away I could see the improvement. The bags were noticeably better. Not entirely gone, but much, much better.

The second step (4-6 weeks after step 1…I can’t remember the exact timing of my appointments) was the Voluma product to really build up the cheeks. I decided to get a full syringe on each side (I could have done a half syringe on each side, but I knew I needed more volume in order to finally have noticeable cheeks!). They say this stuff on average lasts about 2 years. The numbing was done for this session also. Thankfully. I couldn’t imagine any filler procedure being pleasant without being numbed first. And again, around the eye area was quite sensitive. Without a stress ball in my hand, I think I could have squeezed my own hand til it turned white.

After this treatment I really saw a huge difference. More volume. Hence “Voluma”. The first few weeks after treatment, my cheeks felt firm, in an unnatural way. But by 4 weeks later, they feel softer and more like normal (but still looks firm and full, it just feels like it’s my own skin now, and not some foreign substance under my skin).

The one thing I could easily notice after step 2 was a visible “cliff” at the top edge of my new cheeks. So on Thursday, step 3 is more Allofill to soften that edge and further decrease the eye bags look.

Step 3 went very similarly to step 1. Procedure was just about identical. Afterwards I had a little bruising and swelling at about the base of my eye sockets. The noticeable cliff became not very noticeable after this round of Allofill. Just a tad on the higher areas of the cheekbones (very slight cliff there).

Four days later I went back in for a treatment that is designed to reduce the size of the fat pads under the eyes. Before the procedure, I had to sign a scary consent form that states that results aren’t guaranteed…that the procedure may feel like the type of static shock you get from dragging your feet (with socks on) on carpet. Sounds like fun…static shocks under my eyes. Another warning was that heat might be felt, and ongoing feedback to the technician will be required during the procedure (patient tells technician if the static shock feeling & heat is bearable, or if it’s too much). Going into the procedure I didn’t know how my under eyes would look afterwards. Hopefully not red or swollen.

The doctor’s assistant took me back to the treatment room and assured me that the consent form doesn’t represent what the majority of people experience with this procedure (it’s called ThermiSmooth). She had me lay down on a massage-like table. Nice and comfy. One thing I had to do was lift the back of my shirt up, and make sure my bare, lower back was laying on a black mat. This mat made sure I wouldn’t feel a static shock. She then removed my eye makeup with alcohol wipes. Next she applied a moisturizer gel under one of my eyes. She then put a small wand (connected to a big machine) under my eye. She kept the wand moving back and forth under my eye and around my crows feet. About every minute or two she would increase the temperature. I could feel the wand get warmer as she increased the temperature. The doctor wanted her to aim for 10 minutes at 40-45 Celsius. She was able to move me quickly from about 30-35, up to 42 without any issue. Once the temperature exceeded 42, I could certainly feel the warmth. I actually enjoyed the entire treatment! Maybe it was the fact that it was a cold winter day, which made the heat treatment feel so good. Absolutely no static shock type of feeling at all during the procedure. So I guess that black pad underneath my bare lower back, clearly did it’s job.

She moved on to my other eye and was able to start at about 43 Celsius instead of starting out at a much lower temperature. No issues on the other eye.

When the procedure was done, my under eyes were a bit red from the heat. It was hardly even noticeable though. It’s not at all like I walked out to the waiting room and people could tell I had something done…was barely noticeable.

In talking with the assistant about next steps, it sounds like I’ll need a total of 3-4 ThermiSmooth treatments. According to the assistant, most people need about that many rounds. One thing I asked her was to clarify what this procedure does. She said the treatment breaks up the fat pad under the eyes, tightens the skin, and also stimulates collagen production. The next day I could tell that the crows feet were much less noticeable. And the fat pads seemed to be a bit smaller too. I’m loving that this procedure is helping to take care of those pesky crows feet. Besides the baggy under-eyes, I swear the crows feet are the only other thing that tips people off that I’m in my (gasp!) lower 40’s.

What was funny is that the assistant said the whole reason why the doctor added ThermiSmooth to their service offerings, was because Dr. Paul Nassif (also one of the doctors on Botched) uses ThermiSmooth in his practice. The doctor I go to in north east Illinois met Dr. Nassif in person, and thinks highly of him & his recommendations. Funny that she mentioned Botched and Dr. Nassif, since I’ve been hooked on that show! I didn’t even mention the show to the assistant, so she wouldn’t have known I was a fan. No real reason for her to bring up Dr. Nassif, except to explain that a highly sought-after and well known plastic surgeon uses ThermiSmooth in his practice too.

In addition to the filler injections I’ve had done so far, I’m very satisfied with the results! My next appointment for ThermiSmooth is in 3 weeks. Looking forward to seeing more results! At this point in time, I’d absolutely, hands down recommend fillers and ThermiSmooth to anyone suffering from dark under-eye bags. Glad I took the plunge and did this!

REVIEWS: Juicy-O! (Downers Grove, IL)

It’s amazing how quickly an hour passes by in IKEA. Yesterday we made the trek to Bolingbrook to visit the place of my people (I’m half Swedish). Even though I had already written out my short list of items I needed to buy, getting sucked into admiring the extremely organized example living spaces easily makes a “quick trip” at IKEA last an hour.

All of us were ready for a late brunch after our shopping trip. We were less than 20 minutes away from Juicy-O in Downers Grove, and it was on our way home. It was Saturday at about 11:30, and we were seated at a table right away. Deciding what to order was no easy task. Their menu offers so many options, including gluten free! (I’m allergic.)

My husband got the Southern Comfort dish, our daughter got the Waffle-O-Rama (Belgium waffle with eggs, sausage & bacon), and I got the gluten free pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns. Talk about a feast. So delicious! My daughter and I couldn’t finish our meals, and ended up bringing half of our plates home. For the first time ever, my husband didn’t finish his meal, and he was full! He’s the guy that cleans his plate, and everyone else’s too. That says a lot for Juicy-O, you certainly get your money’s worth. And btw when I finished my leftovers this morning, I was stuffed for hours.

One of the cool things about Juicy-O is the free donuts. They bring out a bowl of warm donuts to the table, and they’ll refill the bowl if you ask. Which we did, although I wasn’t able to partake due to my gluten allergy. So essentially my husband ate an entire bowl of donuts, and my daughter ate one too. Safe to say the donuts are delicious!

I had also been to Juicy-O’s Naperville location, for a job interview. During that visit I had to exercise great restraint to not really dig in and clean my plate in front of the person who was interviewing me. The service & food at both locations was excellent.

I might just need to find a reason to head down to IKEA for more cool stuff, and accidentally on purpose wind up at Juicy-O too!

My first blog post

Welcome to my new blog! First time blogger, long time blog reader 😊. What drove me to do this and start a blog? Well, I have some coworkers and a boss to thank for that. Without them, I would probably never be here writing. After 3+ years of dealing with their condescension and just plain mean attitudes, I flat-out quit my job. Like, with no plan or job offer waiting for me.

I was terrified but also excited to resign. I knew I had to leave there and simply couldn’t take it any longer. After I handed my resignation letter to my boss and the conversation ended, it took a bit of time for reality to set in. What the heck was I going to do once my 2 weeks’ notice was over? Luckily a few days after resigning, my mind started to think about other things than how miserable I was at that place. I started to think of some options….including some business venture ideas. Talk about terrifying. Starting a business??!? Well, time will tell if I go down that path, or if I decide to find a job elsewhere. Either way, I’ll learn a lot more than I was at that dead-end job.

One of the ideas that came to my mind was the fact that I’ve been one of the “Top Rated Reviewers” in the Chicago area on a popular travel review site. With over 80,000 readers on that site, I thought I might just cut that middleman (the review site) and start my own blog. What’s funny (well, pathetic, but a funny comparison) is that my boss and coworkers (to be more specific, just the females at the Corporate office on my work team) clearly don’t appreciate my work or contributions. I’m talking about 4 females. The ones that made my life miserable and made me question my worth. But when I thought about my audience on that travel review site, my mind was blown that over 80,000 people had looked at my reviews. And way more than 4 people had rated my reviews on that travel site as “helpful”.

One of my favorite memes that I’ve seen on Facebook reads “You have $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you. Would you be upset and throw all of the $86,390 away in hopes of getting back at the person that took your $10? Or move on and live? Right, move on and live. See, we have 86,400 seconds in every day, so do not let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the rest of the 86,390. Don’t sweat the small stuff, life is bigger than that.”

Those 4 females are the 10 seconds in that meme. My 80,000+ readers on that travel site I mentioned, they are the 86,400 seconds. …and you, dear reader, are part of those 86,400 seconds, too.

I’m a seriously introverted person, but want to share and help others. When I get one of those “helpful” votes on the travel site, it totally makes my day. So if you like a post, please take a quick moment to share it with your friends. If you’ve read this far, you’ve seriously made my day 😊.