Keep the tattoo removal area clean and dry for the first three days.
After tattoo removal, using an ointment like hydrocortisone cream will help to reduce inflammation. Vitamin E Oil can also heal damaged skin cells. These ointments can also make your skin less itchy, meaning you’ll be less tempted to scratch the affected area.
If any blisters develop that are larger than a dime, use a sterilized lancet to poke a small hole at the base of the blister to let it drain. Use an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment or cream to keep the area moisturized and speed healing. As the area is now considered an open wound.
Common Side Effects of Tattoo Removal
Minor side effects are extremely common post-tattoo removal. If you see any of the following side effects, don’t be alarmed:
Scabbing. This is a common part of the body’s healing process after laser tattoo removal.
Blistering. It’s common to see blisters forming after 8 hours. They generally go away within 4 to 6 days with good tattoo removal aftercare.
Light inflammation. Mild swelling may occur at the removal site, but it should go away within a few days.
If you experience more severe symptoms like serious pain, that may be cause for concern. Speak with your tattoo removal specialist right away if any alarming side effects occur.
What to Avoid After Laser Tattoo Removal
Make sure you’re not inadvertently harming your healing skin. These tips on what to steer clear of will help ensure a smooth healing process.
Never Pick Scabs or Blisters
Avoid vigorous exercise during the first 24 hours
Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun
Refrain from alcohol and smoking
Everyone heals differently when it comes to tattoos and laser tattoo removal. Most will be considered healed within six weeks of your appointment.
Healing times can vary, some people heal faster than others. It’s aftercare and maintenance that makes the difference.
There are also different methods for healing tattoos. Some artists recommend the standard method of carefully cleaning your tattoo 2-3 times per day with unscented soap, patting dry, and covering it with a thin layer of aftercare.
Other tattoo artists wrap their clients with a flexible, adhesive bandage (such as Saniderm or Tegaderm) that generally stays on for 4-7 days and removes the step of daily cleaning.
Regardless of the tattoo healing method, you should always follow your tattoo artist’s instructions and contact your artist directly if you have any questions or concerns.
Clear, breathable, self-adhesive banging dramatically reduces the risk of the tattoo becoming infected and protects the new skin during the initial healing stages.
Directly Following your Tattoo Appointment:
Your artist will clean and wrap your new tattoo and make sure the adhesive bandage covers the entire tattoo. They will press it tightly against your skin and remove any backing that may be on the bandage.
You’ll be left with a clear, protective covering over your tattoo – and you’re good to go.
Days 1-3: Liquid-Filled Bandage
All of the plasma, blood and ink will lead directly into your bandage and pool up in certain areas. It will look dark and inky. Although it looks gross and may be alarming to someone unfamiliar with this healing method, it is totally normal.
Plasma and ink will fill the adhesive bandage. This is normal.
It is recommended to leave the bandage on for 24-48 hours. After that time, you can remove the bandage, wash the tattoo thoroughly using warm water and unscented soap and pat it dry.
Once the tattoo is completely dry, you can place a new adhesive bandage over the tattoo. This stays on for the majority of the healing time, about 6-7 days.
Days 4-5: Leave it Alone
Make sure to follow all instructions from your tattoo artist.
Leave the bandage alone. Do not peel it, pick at it, or touch it. Simply, let it be. During this time you can shower normally, but try to avoid getting the bandage very wet and do not submerge the bandage in water.
Any fluid and plasma will dry up in the bandage during this phase and the wrap may feel tight on your skin.
The risk of infection with its type of bandage is minimal. It is important to watch for any warning signs or problems. It’s easy to see if there is an irritation or infection. Watch for areas that are sore and not improving, or that have a milky grey substance surrounding the area. If this happens, remove the bandage and wash thoroughly with unscented soap.
If any areas of your bandage lift up, leak excessively or expose your tattoo, remove the bandage and heal your tattoo normally to avoid the risk of bacteria getting under the bandage and harming the tattoo.
Days 6-7: Remove the Saniderm or Tegaderm Bandage
We recommend removing the tattoo healing wrap around days 6-7. Removing the bandage in the shower will help it come off your skin easier. Once the bandage is removed, you should clean your tattoo thoroughly with warm water and unscented antibacterial soap.
Pat your tattoo dry with paper towels and add a thin layer of unscented moisturizer. Your tattoo should look vibrant and there should be virtually no flaking or itching.
Days 7+: Moisturize and Enjoy Your Tattoo
Using a breathable, medical-grade bandage cuts tattoo healing time down considerably and protects your tattoo from contamination and infection.
After the removal of the bandage, your tattoo may still feel dry for another week or two. Moisturize as needed with unscented lotion.
Even if your tattoo appears healed, you should still avoid swimming or sun exposure until it is fully settled into your skin- which could still take a few weeks following the removal of the bandage.
What to avoid while healing a tattoo:
During the healing stages, it’s important that you take precautions and avoid certain activities and behaviours to prevent infection and poor healing.
Sun Exposure: Keep your tattoo covered if you need to be outside in the sun during the healing process. Do not put sunscreen on a healing tattoo. Just cover it and avoid sun exposure.
Swimming: Swimming with a new tattoo can cause serious infections. Do not submerge your tattoo in water. This includes pools, lakes, oceans, etc. The chlorine and bacteria that could get into your fresh tattoo can cause numerous health issues.
Gyms: Gyms are full of bacteria and germs, so stay away while your tattoo is healing. Avoid strenuous workouts and give your skin time to recover. Sweat can cause your tattoo to push out more ink or moisture can lead to infection. Take it easy for 3-4 weeks following your tattoo.
Scented Moisturizers: Avoid using heavily scented lotion on your tattoo while it is healing. They can cause irritation and some of the colour to pull or fade.
Signs of a potential tattoo infection include:
- bumpy red rash surrounding your tattoo
- visible pus coming from the tattoo
- very warm and inflamed area
If you experience any of these symptoms that do not disappear after a few days, call your doctor to get the tattoo checked. Not all infections come from the tattoo process itself, but poor aftercare procedures as well. If you start to develop a high fever, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, see a doctor immediately as these signs can signify a more serious health problem.