A laser tattoo removal session only takes around 40 minutes or less. But the recovery period lasts for several weeks. After each session, your skin needs time to heal and carry away the tattoo ink particles.
In this post, we’ll reveal what to expect after laser tattoo removal and what you can do to speed up the healing process.
What Happens During a Tattoo Removal Session?
Before we talk about the recovery period, it’s important to know what happens during a laser tattoo removal session.
From the moment your tattoo was first applied, your body has been actively trying to remove the tattoo ink. Your immune system sees the ink as a foreign body, but the ink particles are too big for your white blood cells to break down.
During the tattoo removal process, laser energy is directed at the ink particles, breaking them down into smaller pieces so that the immune system can remove them from the body through the lymphatic system.
With each session, more ink is removed, and your tattoo starts to fade away.
For more information on the tattoo removal process, read our guide How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?.
Does the Laser Damage the Surrounding Skin?
Our trained laser technicians here at b clinic use PicoSure and RevLite Q-Switch laser technologies to direct precise wavelengths of energy to break up the tattoo ink without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Picosecond and nanosecond lasers are perceived as the safest and most effective laser tattoo removal treatments.
One of the key advantages of PicoSure laser technology is that it doesn’t require the same amount of heat energy to shatter the particles of ink. The less heat used, the less discomfort and damage to the surrounding skin. PicoSure is also proven to be faster at fading tattoos than conventional laser technology.
However, this process isn’t entirely pain-free, and you will experience some discomfort during the recovery process.
What Can I Expect Immediately After Laser Tattoo Removal?
Immediately following treatment, you may notice the tattoo area appears white and chalky. This effect is due to carbon dioxide being released from the skin and is an entirely normal part of the laser tattoo removal healing process. Within an hour, this temporary reaction will subside.
The treated area will appear red and feel sensitive. You may experience swelling, and some clients report blistering. These effects will improve in the days following your session and should subside within a week of treatment.
Generally, the first week is when you will feel the most discomfort. But the majority of our clients return to their regular routine without missing any work or social commitments.
We also wrote a great guide on what to expect after laser tattoo removal. You should give that one a read.
How Does the Skin Look After Tattoo Removal?
You will most likely notice the area appears red and slightly swollen following each laser treatment. The sensation is often described as similar to the effects of sunburn. It may feel slightly uncomfortable, but these are positive signs that your body is healing and responding well to the treatment.
Over the following weeks, your body will carry more and more ink particles away. You may not notice an immediate fading of the tattoo, as each session targets the top layers of ink. With each session, more layers of ink are broken down and removed.
What Should I Do After Laser Tattoo Removal?
For the first day following treatment, we recommend avoiding any exercise or strenuous activity. Increased blood flow to the area will likely result in increased irritation and discomfort.
You should avoid soaking the area until it’s fully healed and avoid any baths or swimming pools for up to a week post-treatment. You can shower as usual but try to avoid soaking the tattoo area.
It’s recommended that you avoid exposing the area to direct sunlight for 10 days after and before each session. This will help prevent any damage to the skin while healing and reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation. If exposure to the sun is unavoidable, use SPF50 sun cream to protect the treated area.
How Do You Take Care Of Skin After Laser Tattoo Removal?
Your clinician will apply ointment, gauze, and a waterproof dressing to the area following each session. You should keep this dressing on for a minimum of 4 hours post-treatment.
Taking care of your skin will help you to achieve optimal treatment outcomes. Your practitioner will provide a personalised aftercare plan. Following your aftercare instructions will ensure that your skin can heal quickly between sessions. It’s important that you:
- Avoid picking or rubbing the area
- Reapply the ointment as instructed by your clinician
- Keep the area protected from direct sun exposure
- Do not apply any exfoliating or harsh skincare products to the area
- Avoid soaking the area when showering
How Long Does Laser Tattoo Removal Take to Heal?
People heal at different rates, with some taking longer than others to heal fully. Your clinician will recommend a laser tattoo removal treatment schedule during your initial consultation. This recovery period will allow your skin to recover between sessions.
You may experience side effects such as redness and mild swelling for up to 10 days post-treatment. It’s important to note that even if you experience no discomfort after the first week, it will take several weeks for your skin to heal completely. It can take up to 8 weeks for some people to heal and be ready for their next session.
How Painful Is Laser Tattoo Removal?
Many clients compare the sensation to the experience of having the original tattoo applied. The feeling is also described as similar to the ping of an elastic band on the skin.
Treatments using PicoSure and RevLite Q-Switched lasers are typically much gentler on the skin than older laser technologies. We use a Zimmer Cryo 6 cooling system to minimise any discomfort during each session. You may also be offered a topical anaesthetic to numb the area before the treatment begins.
After laser treatment, the area will feel like you have a sunburn and should be cared for by following your laser tattoo removal aftercare instructions.
You can use over the counter painkillers to help manage any discomfort, but we recommend you avoid taking any products containing aspirin as it can increase the risk of bruising.
Does Skin Go Back to Normal After Laser Tattoo Removal?
Yes. Your skin should go back to normal following laser tattoo removal. We can remove most tattoos completely, and following aftercare instructions will help your skin heal and return to a healthy and ink-free state.
Most clients require 4 – 8 treatments to remove a tattoo, depending on your skin complexion and the size and colouring of the tattoo.
It’s important to note that any existing scarring caused when the tattoo was initially applied may become more noticeable as the tattoo ink is removed. The laser technology does not cause scarring, but it can reveal scars covered up by the tattoo ink.
During your free consultation at b clinic, your clinician will examine your tattoo and discuss any existing scarring that could be revealed once the tattoo is removed.
Follow Your Laser Tattoo Removal Aftercare Instructions
Sticking to the laser tattoo removal aftercare instructions provided by your clinician is vital for healing your skin and achieving your desired treatment outcomes. Your skin will heal quicker after each session, and you’ll be able to remove the tattoo faster.
It’s important not to rush into another session before your skin is ready. Having another session before your skin has fully healed won’t speed up the removal process, but it could make your skin look worse at the end of the treatment.
It takes time to remove a tattoo, but we’re here to guide you on your journey to clear, ink-free skin. Schedule a free consultation today.