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23 January 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Tattoo Removal (1)

I was fourteen. Three of us were at my best friend's house. His parents were at camp for the night. We snuck into the liquor cabinet and got drunk. In our drunken teenage maniacal metal-head wisdom we decided to get some Indian Ink and cement our friendship with tattoos of a cross - something that for years would become a source of embarrassment for us, a cruel reminder of our dubious past.

Well, I always wanted to get it removed, but I put it off and off and off, not really sure how to go about getting it done, denying the fact that it even existed, hiding my head in shame whenever taking my shirt off. Then one day, I found an ad in the Korea Herald for a skin clinic in Seoul that offers tattoo removal. After 15 long years, the time had finally come.

Here it is. I took this picture in the bathroom shortly before visiting with the doctor. While I figured a laser would be involved I had no idea really what to expect. I hoped it wouldn't cost too much being as small as it is. There was a 30,000 won consultation fee (consultation: 2.5 minutes). Then the cost of the laser would be 100,000 won won, but since I'm a poor English teacher, as he said, he gave me a 20,000 won discount.

Not too bad overall, and I was excited until he told me it would take 5 visits, one every 6 weeks, to remove it fully. However, each time the cost of the laser will get cheaper, since there will be less to remove. I can't imagine how much and how long it must take to remove big tattoos.

I paid and the nurse applied some anesthetic cream and I was told I'd have to wait one hour for it to take affect. Poor Julie was stuck with me. One hour ended up being 90 minutes as the place was really crowded that day with various other skin treatments. Finally my turn came. I laid down in a chair and closed my eyes. The laser sparked my skin for less than 2 minutes and the doctor was finished. I looked at the tattoo. All that reaminded was the shape of the cross, completely white with specs of blood on it. The doctor said as it healed the pigment would come back again, hence the need for five treatments.

OK, here it is 4 days after the laser treatment. It actually looks better than in this picture. I can't imagine it will take 4 more visits. It's looking pretty good already, but we'll see as time goes on. I'll do an update later on it.


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