What to do after a tattoo removal

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Tattoo removal is a relatively quick and simple procedure, but the process doesn't end when you leave the clinic. The treated area will require care after you leave. Knowing what to do will help you both to heal quickly and to get the best results from your tattoo removal. 

Talk to your clinic

When your tattoo removal treatment is finished, you'll get instructions for what to do over the coming weeks. If you have any questions, this is the perfect time to ask them.

Don't be alarmed

The period immediately after a tattoo removal can seem a little unnerving. It's not uncommon for there to be pain, redness, blistering, swelling, or scabbing in the area affected by the treatment. This type of reaction is common and will usually fade after a week or two. Scabbing might not develop immediately after treatment; if it appears later, that's perfectly normal. Just treat the area as instructed. 

Be especially careful on the first day

For the first day or so after your removal, you may want to apply a cold compress to the area to keep it cool and soothe any irritation. Rest and avoid strenuous activity; keep the treated area out of hot water. 

Apply ointment

For the first few days, apply an antibiotic ointment to the treated area to relieve irritation and prevent any possible infection. Change the dressing over the removed tattoo every day. 

Keep it clean and dry

Wash the area of the removed tattoo gently with antibacterial soap; pat it dry and reapply the dressing. Avoid direct contact with high-pressure water, which can be painful. During the healing period, avoid exposing the area directly to the sun. You should also keep it out of chlorinated water such as pools or hot tubs; similarly, don't immerse the area in salt water. 

Manage pain carefully

Some pain is normal following a tattoo removal, but it should be minor and fade over the first few days; relieve it with cold compresses, rest, and elevation. If you do need to manage pain, take paracetamol to reduce it. 

Be patient

Healing after a tattoo removal can take up to a month or two, during which itching, scabbing and tenderness may all persist. If the removed tattoo isn't completely healed after this period, however, talk to your doctor to see if there's anything else you need to do to speed up the recovery process.

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