Many people are unsure of what to expect after receiving laser tattoo removal treatments. Will there be blisters? Can I shower or workout after? What’s the best way to care for the treatment area? These are all common questions that we’ll answer in this post.
Before we get started, remember that nothing written here should be construed as medical advice. Always consult a trained healthcare professional prior to making any healthcare-related decisions. Now that we have that out of the way, we hope you find the following aftercare information useful.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt during treatment?
Patients at our Chicago area and Munster, Indiana laser clinics are tough people – but toughness isn’t required. The laser tattoo removal treatment isn’t especially painful. It feels like a rubber band snapping and typically, depending on the size of the tattoo, treatment lasts just a minute or so. Moreover, at Bare Tattoo Removal, we use a cooling device to minimize any discomfort.
How does the skin look after laser tattoo removal?
The tattoo removal laser treatment may create a superficial burn wound. Some patients may experience bruising or swelling. There is immediate whitening of the treated area, known as “frosting,” which usually lasts for several minutes. In rare occasions, patients may then develop blisters, crusts, or scabs within 8-72 hours, which may last for 1-2 weeks or more. The treated areas may be pink or pale after the scab separates. Scarring, which can be hypertrophic or even keloid, can occur but is very rare. Loss of skin pigment in the treated area can occur, and is temporary except in very rare cases. Healing is usually complete within 4 weeks, although this may vary.
What is proper aftercare for laser tattoo removal?
If you prefer a video, you can view this YouTube video for a brief video overview on how to treat blisters after tattoo removal. Our written care guidelines are as follows:
- Keep the treated area clean and dry while it is healing. Clean the area gently with soap and water and then pat the area dry. You may apply a thin coating of antibiotic ointment up to three times a day for 3 days while the area is healing and you should keep the area covered with a sterile dressing for those 3 days.
- Blistering is not uncommon (approximately 5% of Bare Tattoo Removal patients experience blisters) and may occur 8 hours after your treatment. Do not be alarmed, blisters heal very well and are part of the normal healing process. Blisters indicate your body’s immune system is healing the area and beginning to remove the ink from your tattoo. It is natural for blisters to pop, and this helps the skin to heal faster in many cases. Continue to put antibiotic ointment over the blisters once they have popped for at least 24 hours.
- You may apply cool compresses as necessary for 24 hours after the laser treatment to help reduce discomfort and inflammation. You may take plain Tylenol, but avoid aspirin (it can increase the risk of bruising and/or bleeding.)
- Do not pick at the scab or allow the skin to become scraped, as this may result in infection and scarring. Shaving should be avoided in the treated area until it is completely healed.
- Feel free to shower 2 hours after the treatment, but take care to avoid high-pressure water hitting the treated area. Baths, hot tubs, swimming pool, or any forms of soaking are not recommended until all blistering and scabbing are completely healed, as they may increase the risk of infection.
- Exercise is generally safe after treatment, taking into account the other aftercare instructions provided here.
- Wear a sun block with an SPF of 25 or higher over the area for 3 months following the treatment. Do not wear makeup or any cream or medication on or near the treated area unless recommended by our office for 48 hours.
- Itching is very common due to the dehydrating effect of the laser treatment. Use Bare Tattoo Removal Ointment, Aquaphor®, vitamin E ointment, or hydrocortisone cream to the treatment area.
- If the area looks infected (honey colored crusting and oozing or spreading redness), if you experience an unusual discomfort or bleeding, if any other complications develop, or if you have any questions or concerns, contact the office immediately.
- Of course, if you have any extreme reaction, call 911 and go to the emergency department
If you have questions regarding proper care, contact your laser tattoo removal treatment provider and they should be able to advise you.