Tattoo Removal Aftercare
The key to caring for your skin after a tattoo removal treatment is to be as gentle as possible, and avoid potential irritants
Diamonds are forever, according to the famous James Bond title song, but not much else is these days, including – happily – unwanted tattoos. There are lots of different reasons why people become disenchanted with their ink, and it’s more common than you might think: some surveys suggest that around 75% of people regret at least one of their tattoos. The good news is that there’s a straightforward solution: laser tattoo removal.
What is laser tattoo removal?
Laser tattoo removal is a safe and simple procedure that can achieve fantastic results – if it’s performed by a qualified, skilled practitioner. So do your research beforehand, and always go to a reputable (and regulated) clinic such as sk:n, Courthouse Clinics, The Harley Medical Group or DestinationSkin.
Tattoo removal lasers work by applying powerful pulses of light to the treatment area, which then pass through the skin, breaking up the tattoo ink into tiny particles. These are then disposed of naturally by the body’s own immune system. It usually takes several treatment sessions to achieve the best outcome, and end results depend on different factors such as skin tone, tattoo colour, and tattoo density. A reputable clinic should offer a detailed consultation and a patch test to ensure suitability, before treatment begins.
Why is tattoo removal aftercare important?
Caring properly for your skin after laser tattoo removal is just as important as the treatment itself. That’s because the lasers used are pretty powerful, so it’s vital to take steps to avoid any subsequent irritation, infection or hyperpigmentation. Your practitioner should put together a personalised aftercare programme, to help minimise any issues.
That said, a lot of tattoo removal aftercare involves basic common sense. First and foremost, keep the treatment area scrupulously clean. Wash it frequently and thoroughly with warm water and, if recommended, a gentle antibacterial solution. Avoid any potential irritants such as perfumes, scrubs or highly-scented soaps. Medik8’s Calmwise Soothing Cleanser – created specifically for redness-prone and sensitive skin – contains no artificial fragrances, soaps or sulphates, to gently cleanse without irritation.
If you’ve been advised to do so, wear a bandage or a sterile dressing. And avoid tight clothes, plus any fluffy/itchy fabrics. Loose-fitting, natural fibres, such as cotton, are best.
Encourage your skin's natural healing process
Crusty skin, scabs and blisters can sometimes appear after a laser tattoo removal treatment. This is actually a positive sign that your skin is starting to heal, but resist the temptation to pick, squeeze or burst! It really won’t help your skin to heal faster – and might even increase the risk of infection or other complications.
Blisters that burst by themselves are normal, but don’t put pressure on them in a bid to accelerate to process, and avoid hot baths, swimming pools and hot tubs. An ice pack is useful for relieving any itching/soreness, or try sk:n’s Aloe Vera Gel. Featuring Aloe Vera, Allantoin, Vitamin E and Panthenol, this lightweight formula is ideal for use after a range of aesthetic procedures. It’s also an effective after-sun product. Lastly, avoid wearing make-up or self-tanning formulas on or around the treated area until it’s completely healed.
Step up your sun protection
We should all be wearing sunscreen every day, whatever the weather. But SPF becomes even more important after a tattoo removal treatment, as it’s likely that the affected area will become more sensitive than usual to sunlight. The best solution is to avoid prolonged sun exposure as much as possible during the healing process. But even in winter, daily SPF is always recommended. Both Ultrasun and Heliocare offer an extensive selection of sunscreens. We especially like Ultrasun Face SPF50+, and Heliocare’s 360 Water Gel SPF50+, each of which provides a high level of sun protection and is suitable for sensitive/sensitised skin.
Switch up your skincare
In addition to sunscreen, it’s also wise to take a closer look at your regular skincare and body care regime after a laser tattoo removal treatment, and make any necessary adjustments. Now is not the time for chemical peels, strong scrubs/body brushing, exfoliating acids, or powerful retinols.
Instead, chose gentle, nourishing products that will protect and preserve your skin’s acid mantle. In particular, look out for soothing botanicals such as Shea Butter, and Hyaluronic Acid to keep skin hydrated.
Avène was created specifically for sensitive skin, which means it’s also an ideal choice for tattoo removal aftercare. There’s an extensive portfolio of products to choose from, but a good all-round basic is the brand’s Skin Recovery Cream Moisturiser For Very Sensitive Skin. Presented in airtight packaging to keep the contents sterile, this formula instantly relieves dryness, tightness and discomfort, while strengthening the skin barrier to prevent further irritation. We also love Avène’s Eau Thermale Water Spray, a versatile, cooling, multi-use spray that’s clinically proven to reduce sensitivity and soothe a range of skin irritations.