Just like getting a tattoo, getting rid of it with laser tattoo removal is a commitment and requires not only the treatment itself but aftercare as well. As we have mentioned in our previous posts on laser tattoo removal, the process of laser tattoo removal is not a painless procedure, and the number of treatments may vary depending on your tattoo’s size, color, and location.
As you likely did with your tattoo initially, you should follow the necessary steps to make sure your skin heals properly after each of your laser tattoo removal treatments. We usually tell our patients to expect two stages of laser tattoo removal aftercare: immediate aftercare and aftercare throughout the healing process.
Immediate Aftercare Instructions (Days 1 & 2 Post Treatment)
The steps you should follow immediately after your laser tattoo removal treatment are 1) ice, 2) moisturize, 3) rest, and 4) elevate.
Ice is necessary to alleviate heat you will feel post treatment and it also helps prevent any blistering. After your tattoo removal treatment, your laser tattoo removal practitioner will provide you with an ice compress to apply to the treatment site for the first hour. You must alternative application of the ice compress on and off every 1 to 3 minutes as necessary during that first hour, but make sure you DO NOT leave ice on the treated area for more than 3 to 5 minutes at a time. You might also consider application of natural Aloe Vera gel to help reduce heat on the treated area.
The treated area must remain moisturized following your treatment. We recommend applying Aquafor for the first 3 days following treatment, about 3 to 4 times a day. DO NOT use Neosporin or any other antibiotic ointments, which may increase your chance of blistering. The use of Aquafor, will promote healing of your treated area and reduce any itching or irritation you might experience as a result of the treatment.
Make sure you limit physical activity the day following your treatment, which includes any exercise or activity that could result in perspiration. Why? Well, exercise can reduce blood flow in the treated area while the blood flows to your muscles, which will slow the healing process. AVOID harsh soaps or cleansers and hot, steamy showers immediately following treatment, and AVOID pedicures if you have treated a tattoo located on your foot, ankle, or lower leg. The soaking of these areas could invite infection, since you will have tiny abrasions in your skin from the treatment.
If you can, try to elevate your treated area above the heart as much as possible. This will also help decrease your chances of blistering post treatment.
Do not be afraid to contact your laser practitioner if you notice anything abnormal. You can expect possible reactions like: the treated area getting brighter or not changing at all, appearing white, pink, or red, or some pinpoint bleeding, blistering or redness, yellowing, or clear discharge and swelling.
Continued Aftercare Instructions (Until Healed)
Healing can take anywhere from 5 to 25 days or more depending on the specifics of your treated area. As the area treated by laser tattoo removal heals, make sure you 1) moisturize, 2) leave the skin to heal on its own, 3) proceed with caution, and 4) prepare for your next appointment.
It is vital that you keep your treated area moisturized with Aquafor until it is completely healed. Remember DO NOT use Neosporin or other antibiotic ointments that will increase the chance of blistering.
Leave the Skin to Heal
Your skin will be going through the healing process. Should you experience a blister DO NOT break the blister(s)! Doing so can cause infection and scarring. Remember that blistering and scabbing is normal. If you have an uncomfortable blister, you can call your treatment office to drain it. Make sure you watch for any infections by noting signs of foul odor, fever, red streaks, yellow-green drainage, and pain. Also, AVOID swimming pools, the ocean, hot tubs, and tub soaking pedicures for 5 to 7 days until healed. Otherwise, unless a blister is present, you may resume normal activities.
Prepare for Your Next Treatment
You should book your next appointment in 6 to 12 weeks following your first. It takes up to four weeks for the body to break down the ink, so your results will not be immediate, and each treatment will be different depending on your treated area and how your skin reacts. Between treatments, make sure you apply SPF 50 to the treated area when in direct sunlight, avoid spray tanning 2 weeks prior, and shave the area the day before your next treatment.
The most important thing to remember is that your skin needs time and the right conditions to heal after your laser tattoo removal treatment. If you have any questions about how to care for your treated area, don’t hesitate to contact WIFH, your laser tattoo removal specialist.