For Laura, her tattoo removal process is about getting her confidence back. This is her story.
What tattoos are you getting removed?
I'm getting two teenage mistake tattoos removed; one on my right arm and one on the back of my neck. Right now I’ve got long hair, but I used to have short hair and there was no way of hiding the tattoo on the back of my neck. The one on my arm was a quote that as an undergrad English student I thought was very cool, and then I felt very embarrassed by it. People would ask me what my tattoo said and I just sort of hold my arm out and look away while they read it.
What does the quotation on your arm say?
It's an Oscar Wilde quote and it says, “we're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” It’s a nice quote and it's sort of a nice sentiment, but to have it permanently tattooed on me wasn't really something I thought through at the age of 18. It doesn't feel like it means anything to me.
The tattoo on the back of my neck I got as a sort of marker of going back to therapy, an important time in my life, and deciding to deal with certain things. But again, it just feels like it doesn't have any significance and I don't want it on my body anymore.
Have you wanted laser tattoo removal for a while?
Yeah, ages. About six months later after getting my arm tattoo, I thought “what did I do?” I’d wake up, see it and think “Oh god, I did that.”
How are you feeling seeing the results of your tattoo removal?
It’s mad, I didn't really know that it would work so well. It’s gone really quick so far. It’s surreal that I’m going to be able to look down on my arm and not have to see what it used to say. It’s exciting.
How have you found your treatments?
What put me off was the laser tattoo removal cost and the pain of it - I'd heard that it’s more painful than having a tattoo. So I thought for a while about a tattoo cover-up, but then I found out about NAAMA and the laser tattoo removal technology that you use being really painless. I didn't quite believe but it's true, it didn't really hurt at all.
I'm not good with pain; I'm really squeamish and having the tattoo was bad enough in the first place. But for me my treatments have been really, really nice and super quick. The healing has been great. I haven't really had any problems with it. Everyone at NAAMA is really friendly.
And you're removing both your tattoos in the same session. Was that part of the appeal of choosing NAAMA?
Yeah and it’s super quick. It’s been nice to have them both removed at the same time.
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What are your thoughts on tattoos in general? Do you plan to leave the area clear or are you going to put any tattoos over it?
I have another tattoo which I really like and I'm not averse to getting more. I think what this tattoo removal process has taught me is that I'd want to really think carefully and sort of sit with it for a while before I get something else tattooed.
How does having the opportunity to change your mind about your tattoos feel?
The tattoos have really impacted me. In the summer I wouldn't want to wear short sleeves and when I met my partner, I remember on our first date wearing a long sleeve talk because I just like I'm not ready to talk about the tattoo and show him that. At the time when I got it done and I was 18, I didn’t even know about tattoo removal. I thought, great that’s there forever and I'm going to be an 80-year-old with an Oscar Wilde quote on my arm and everyone's gonna make fun of me.
It's empowering, reclaiming that part of myself. It's nice to feel confident and wear my hair up again. It’s a luxury that we'd have now with modern technology, isn't it? It sort of makes me worried that I'll just get something else and I can just remove it if I don't like it.
Do you have any regrets about choosing tattoo removal?
No, not at all. I just wish I'd done it sooner. I feel so much happier now. When people meet me today, they can't even notice the quote on my arm or read it. It's not there at all. it's much more faded than I thought it would be.