So you’re getting laser tattoo removal, and you want to make sure you’re doing everything right. It’s important you look after not just your skin, but your whole body.
Laser is a holistic process - it’s about helping your immune system (your lymphs) process toxins (your ink). So aftercare - and for that matter before and during care - is much more meaningful than simply skincare. Although that’s important too!
We’ve put together an Aftercare 101 tell-all guide to help you through the process.
How to look after the tattooed area
Wash the treated area twice a day with water and a gentle cleanser, avoiding perfumed products which could cause some sensitivity. Use a clean cotton pad to apply a hydrating aftercare cream and massage this into the skin (massage will actually help stimulate your lymphs). If you’re using your hands rather than cotton pads, make sure you’ve thoroughly washed them first.
It’s really crucial you keep this area clean - make sure you avoid public baths, swimming pools and hot tubs. It’s also important to avoid excess heat, so steer clear of saunas, steam rooms and, of course, sun beds.
Protecting the treated area
Waterproof dressings and hydrogels help maintain a healing environment while still letting air in - the best way to allow the skin to heal. Ours are made with a unique membrane covered in microscopic air holes too small for water molecules to pass through, but large enough for oxygen to pass through. This helps your skin recover quickly. They’re hospital-grade, transparent, and can be left in place for up to seven days (although we’d recommend around three to four days).
They’re designed for easy removal; you simply lift an edge away from the skin, grip the dressing and stretch away from the hydrogel patch, parallel to the skin. This releases the adhesive, allowing it to come off without irritation. No *ouch* moment here.
What’s normal and what isn’t
You may experience some redness, and slight raising of the skin around the area that’s been treated - this is normal, and to be expected. If you’re looking after the tattooed area, these symptoms will probably go away within the first couple of days. However, if you notice signs of an infection such as increasing redness, pain, swelling or pus - contact your GP. It’s really unlikely, but do act quickly if you notice these signs.
What to wear over the tattooed area
Clothing wise, it’s generally best to wear loose clothing, especially the first couple of days after your session. If you’re getting a thigh tattoo removed, for example, it’s best to avoid skinny jeans or a tight pair of trousers.
It’s also better to try and stick to natural materials like cotton, linen, silk and wool and avoid man-made fabrics like nylon, polyester, rayon and velvet. This avoids any possible irritation and keeps your treated skin comfortable.
Sun protection - everything you need to know
It’s really important you protect the area of treated skin from the sun - during the removal process, your tattooed skin is more susceptible to sun damage, which can lead to colour changes on your skin (hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation). Keep the area out of direct sunlight throughout the removal process - this will help you get the most out of laser tattoo removal, but will also protect the skin from any damage and lasting effects.
After your removal is finished, make sure you’re protected with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF of 30 or higher). A top tip is to look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide - these deflect the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, so are much more effective.
What you can to do to get the most of laser tattoo removal
To get the best results from your tattoo removal, it’s important your immune system is optimized and working efficiently. Your immune system (the system in the body that provides resistance to infection and toxins) is made up of lots of different organs and processes. It’s your lymphs, otherwise known as the lymphatic system, that plays the biggest role when it comes to laser tattoo removal.
The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body, so sends white blood cells to attack ink particles, which have been broken down by the laser, and carries them away to be processed.
There’s lots we can’t control about laser tattoo removal - our genetics play a big part, as does the type of ink used in the tattoo, as well as the techniques used by the tattoo artist. Lifestyle factors also play a massive part - and those, we can control. Here’s what you can do to help make sure your immune system is in the best shape possible.
Drink water - 95% of the fluid in the lymph system (the part that clears toxins away) is water, so it’s important you stay hydrated. This helps the system work more efficiently.
Get moving - contraction of the muscles and joints propel fluid through the lymph system, making it work better and faster.
Avoid the sun - laser treatments make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays, and can cause changes to your skin’s pigment. Protecting your skin from the sun is really, really important.
Avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine - any toxins reduce the burden on your system, leaving more capacity to clear your ink.
Eat well - think leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish, citrus fruit, whole grains and dark chocolate. Processed, unhealthy foods just add to the load on your system and eating food high in nutrients keeps your whole immune system strong.
Try not to stress - it causes lymph congestion, which makes the whole system less efficient. We know, it’s easier said than done! Try meditation, yoga and generally moving your body - laughter is pretty good medicine too.