Whether you’ve got one or a hundred, there’s something very exciting about designing, saving up for and eventually inking a new tattoo. Sometimes, though, we don’t put enough thought into them. Sometimes, whether it’s two, 10 or 50 years later, we want them gone. Enter tattoo removal.
I have made one of these tattoo mistakes. I was bullied into getting a matching relationship tattoo on a whim at the ripe old age of 19. It wasn’t my first tatt, and at the time I told myself that even if we did break up I’d never want to erase our time together completely, so it was fine. Spoiler: it was not fine.
Five years later I finally realised he was a textbook narcissist who’d been emotionally abusing me from day one and cheating on me not long after. Needless to say, I wanted that arsehole completely gone from under my skin. Oops.
I started my laser tattoo removal session about five years ago now. Let me just tell you that not only are they not cheap, they’re about 1000 times more painful than any tatt you’ve ever gotten. And no, this is not like getting laser hair removal. I went for about nine sessions, needing only one more to get rid of the final dots of ink. A final session I just never really went back for, until last week.
When Next Level Clinic in Sydney claimed they had a better way of going through this painful process, I scoffed a little. It wasn’t their fault, it was just my previous experience at two different tatt removal clinics around the city. But I was still curious.
Beauty therapist and Next Level Founder, Kylie Hayden recognised a gap in the market for a customised service that combines the luxuries of a spa day with state-of-the-art laser technology to lower pain and increase results. So this was the basis of Next Level.
“Understanding the advanced science and technology behind tattoo removal combined with an unmatched luxury experience is at the core of our offering,” says Kylie. “It was important to us that we delivered on this for the first and best experience possible with each treatment tailored to each of our client’s needs”.
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Now that I’ve been and gone for my final laser tattoo removal session ever, I can confirm that the experience might still be far from a relaxing spa day, but it’s the best one I’ve ever had.
Upon arrival, I’m asked what I’d like to drink. I opt for water, mainly because I’m nervous and it’s infused with strawberries and a Beauty Chef Hydration Elixir. I’m taken into the therapy room where the process is explained in detail — way more detail and patience than I’ve ever gotten before.
A numbing cream is rubbed on the back of my neck where the leftover ink is (something I was never offered anywhere else and now I’m pissed I was never told I could have this aid), and while it starts to sink in, I lay down to have my face cleansed before enjoying an LED light therapy facial. It was confusing because I was nervous about the pain, yet relaxed at the same time. But hey, if you’ve got to do it, may as well give your skin a boost at the same time, right?
About 15 minutes later it’s time to be zapped. Next Level uses a Discovery Pico Laser machine — a ground-breaking tattoo removal machine that has won international awards and is known for being (comparatively) pain-free. It also works on all skin colours, something that past laser machines weren’t able to do.
Admittedly I didn’t have much skin to cover this time, and I did have numbing cream, but it was definitely less painful. I cannot explain to you how hard I braced for the pain — and yes it still hurt — but the fire of a thousand suns never came.
They also give you a little take-home pack, full of soothing cream, detoxifying tea and elixirs, ice packs and bandages — again, something I’ve never been offered before.
Overall, I call this a success. The pain was less, the clinicians are far more knowledgeable and work with you personally to create a plan for removal. My first word of advice would be to make sure you want the tattoo you’re getting. My second would be, if you do need one removed, go straight to Next Level.
AWOL was a guest of Next Level Clinic.
(Lead image: Instagram / @nextlevelclinic_tattooremoval)