Tattoos are a hallmark of rebellious and independent American culture, though they can sometimes become a hindrance, whether you’re interviewing for a new job, joining the military, or simply having second thoughts. The good news is the process of removing unwanted ink has come a long way, and with advances in laser technology, you now have real, tangible options for tattoo removal.
Laser treatment for tattoo removal typically requires multiple sessions, which can depend on the size of the tattoo, the amount of color, the tattoo’s age, and the depth of penetration. The heat of the laser treatment can also temporarily damage the surrounding skin, causing it to swell, turn red, or even blister and bleed.
Following the laser tattoo removal sessions, it’s important that you follow some skin-care guidelines in order to minimize the risk of complications and to guarantee the best possible results.
The First Few Days
You should apply ice or cold compresses to the treated area on and off at twenty-minute intervals to help reduce swelling, inflammation, and discomfort. After the first seventy-two hours, icing the treated area will do little in terms of reducing inflammation but may help in reducing soreness or pain.
You should also change your wound dressings twice a day, with clean hands. This can be once when you wake up and once before you go to bed or after you shower. Rinse the area gently with warm, soapy water and gently pat dry. Try your best not to irritate any open wounds, scabs, or blisters. Once it’s dry, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to keep the area moist and cover with a clean dressing.
The First Two Weeks
During the early healing period, typically the first week or so following treatment, your skin will appear red, irritated, and may blister or scab up. The skin during this time is at a higher risk of infection, according to the Cleveland Clinic, so avoid heavy exercise, excessive sweating, swimming pools, lakes, or the ocean. Continue to change your wound dressings and keep the area clean.
During the early healing period, makeup, astringents, chemical peels, and vitamin A-based skin-care products, such as tretinoin and retinol, should be avoided. These products may cause further inflammation, which can potentially delay healing and result in damage to your skin.
The First Month
You should avoid direct sun exposure to the treated area for a minimum of four weeks following treatment. Once the treated area is completely healed (usually at around two weeks following treatment), a broad-spectrum sunblock should be applied daily. Spray tanning should also be avoided in the interval periods of four to six weeks before and after your ink-removal treatments.
Living with an unwanted tattoo is stressful. Luckily, there are safe and effective options for removal of unwanted ink. Ask your doctor if laser tattoo removal, like PicoSure®, is right for you. If you’ve undergone laser tattoo removal, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions to speed up healing and minimize any scarring.