Tattoo removal is a form of burning – very focused clinical style burning – but burning nonetheless. Consequently, after undertaking a round of laser treatment you will have a burn where the tattoo is/was.
Good after treatment is essential to making sure this burning heals well and the tattoo removal process has the desired effect. In this article, we will tell you what to expect and how to deal with it so that you can ensure your tattoo removal is a success.
Common Problems Experienced During Tattoo Removal After Treatment
Let’s start with some of the main effects of the treatment before moving onto a guide that explains how to deal with those effects.
Blistering is a form of skin irritation which for many people can arrive after sunburn and occurs for anyone who undergoes the tattoo removal process. The blistering will take the form of bubbling on the layer of skin around the tattoo and treatment area.
Blisters are your body’s natural way of protecting and healing the damaged area and for this reason, they should be left to leave naturally. For one reason, bursting a blister can result in an infection. A blister should naturally dissipate over the course of 3-5 days.
Another natural consequence of tattoo removal is swelling. Swelling tends to heal a lot quicker in specific areas of the body. For example, removal of tattoos from the body (stomach and back) is usually free from swelling within 24 hours of the treatment taking place. In most other places swelling can last for around 3-5 days.
Swelling can be treated by gently applying ice to the inflamed area. It is also a good idea to try and encourage circulation in the affected area.
The redness of the skin is a side effect that usually lasts for around 72 hours after the treatment. It is caused by a minute form of bleeding that results from the laser damage to your skin. However, this is not the same as regular bleeding and should not appear as blood on your dressing for example. Redness and blisters often occur together and are both natural reactions to the laser treatment as the body begins its healing process.
For certain people, the redness will stay around for a longer time than others. Anywhere up to 10 days of redness is fine – as long as it is not becoming increasingly red and inflamed – after which you should contact your medical professional.
One of the more irritating side effects of tattoo removal is the itchiness that it causes. Some lucky people don’t experience Itchiness, but for most people, it begins as soon as the treatment is over and can last for anywhere up to six weeks.
Extreme itchiness can be managed with antihistamine which you can get from your local pharmacist. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you should not scratch the itch (easier said than done).
Dry Skin and Scabbing
Dry skin and scabbing arrive in the aftermath of the blisters subsiding. One thing to note here is that dry skin scabbing and flaky skin can darken the area around the removal site. Patients shouldn’t be alarmed by this, the darkness does not mean the removal isn’t working properly, it is just another part of the healing process.
The best thing for you to do during this process is to be patient and take care of the area. Any attempt on your part to speed this process will probably do more harm than good.
This is the most serious concern in the post-treatment process and it is avoidable. Unlike the other effects felt on your skin, infection will not pass without medical attention. Initially, it can be hard to identify an infection as the telltale signs are similar to what you will be experiencing anyway – things such as redness, dryness, itching, etc. If these problems last longer than expected and an increase in pain then you should visit your medical professional. Infections are generally treated with antibiotics.
Guide to Post-Treatment Care
Tattoo removal in its basic sense is a form of burning the skin. The laser burns the skin in a controlled localized way. Therefore the healing process after a tattoo removal session is similar to that of burns and usually lasts an average of 4 weeks.
To begin with, the burning sensation around the tattoo area will be accompanied by whitening, bruising, blistering, swelling, and scabbing – all of which usually come and go within the first 2-10 days of post-treatment.
First 3 Days:
Cover the tattoo area with a thin layer of antibiotic ointment before placing a sterile gauze over the top for protection. Do this every day for the first 3 days. Change the dressing if required.
After 3 days:
At this stage, you are still trying to protect the tattoo removal area. The area should be dry at all times except when cleaning which should take place as and when is necessary.
Allow blisters to burst naturally. Once it has naturally burst, treat the area with ointment for 24 hours.
If you want to try and manage the discomfort of inflammation you can apply a cool compress to the area for soothing purposes.
laser treatment dehydrating the skin which causes itching. Many good solutions to burn-related are available in the pharmacy. due to the dehydrating effect of the laser. Use Aquaphor, Vitamin E ointment, or hydrocortisone cream to moisturize the area as it heals.
Acetaminophen is recommended for pain. Ibuprofen is not recommended because it increases the risk of bleeding.
Scabs, as with blisters, should be left to reach their natural end. Try to avoid any activity – such as shaving – that might remove the scab prematurely.
the biggest threat to a smooth healing process is getting an infection in the treated area.
How do you tell infection from the other natural healing phenomenon listed above? After all, some of the signs are similar – redness and itching for example.
The answer is time and intensity.
If the pain is becoming more intense over time it could be an infection.
You can shower as soon 2 hours after your treatment providing you keep the tattoo removal area dry. No soaking in baths or hot tubs for the first few weeks. This is one of the main ways you could get an infection.
exercise is absolutely fine as long as it does not contradict any of the advice we have given above, i.e going swimming.
Sunblock SPF 25+ should be worn outdoors wherever necessary for the first 3 months. All cosmetics and cream should be avoided for 72 hours after the treatment.
Tattoo Removal After Treatment
Having a tattoo removed requires a lot of patience. The process takes maybe 10 to 15 treatments, and in between each treatment you are required to take an 8-week break to let your skin heal.
This in-between phase, as we have outlined above, requires some diligent care and treatment. You have to make sure your skin is healing properly by creating the right conditions. You also have to be alert to spot any problems you might be experiencing during the healing process.
However, as long as you are patient and diligent, you should be tattoo free in a reasonable amount of time.