The tattoo removal laser treatment may create a superficial burn wound. There is immediate whitening, swelling, and redness of the treated area, which usually lasts for several minutes. Some clients may then develop blisters, crusts, or scabs within 8-72 hours, which can last for 1-2 weeks or more. The treated areas may be pink or pale after the scab separates. Some patients may experience bruising or swelling, which usually fades over the first week after treatment. Scarring, which can be hypertrophic or keloid in nature, may occur but are very rare. Pigmentation abnormalities can occur, but are temporary except in very rare cases. Primary healing is usually complete within 4 weeks, although this may differ depending on several variables. Continued fading can be seen in the following months. A few things to keep in mind to ensure the best possible fading and removal outcome:
1. 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 ointment (i.e. Aquaphor, Petrolatum, Neosporin) up to three times a day for three days while the area is healing. Keep the area covered with a sterile dressing at that time.
2. Blisters are possible and likely to occur within the first 8 hours after treatment. Don’t be alarmed, as well cared for blisters heal very well and are part of the normal healing process. Should the blister become cumbersome, use a sterile needle to pop and drain the area, being sure to apply ointment and a bandage after doing so. Continue to put antibiotic ointment over the blisters once they have been popped until the skin is fully healed.
3. In the first few hours, the treated area may feel similar to a sunburn. Applying cool compresses can help ease some of the discomfort and inflammation from the treatment.
4. Should you scab, don’t pick or expose the scabbed area, as it may result in infection, scarring, or permanent pigment change. Shaving should be avoided in the treated area until it is completely healed.
5. It is ok to shower after the treatment, but take care to avoid high pressure water hitting the treated area. Baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, or any form of soaking are not recommended until all blistering and scabbing are completely healed as they may increase the risk of infection.
6. Exercise is generally safe after treatment taking into account the other after care instructions provided here. Some bruising may be experienced if muscles underneath the treated area are exercised.
7. Wear a sun block SPF of 25 or higher, protecting against UVA/UVB rays over the area for the full time between sessions while removal is performed. Limiting sun exposure between treatments will reduce the amount of tan in the area, thereby reducing the risk of side effects. Do not wear makeup or any cream on the treated area unless recommended by our office for 48 hours.
8. Itching is common due to the dehydrating effect of the laser treatment. Use Aquaphor, vitamin E ointment, or hydrocortisone cream to the treatment area. Itching resulting from an allergic reaction is rare, but also possible. Notify us if itching or swelling persists for more than a week after treatment.
9. 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.
10. Of course, if you have any extreme reaction, call 911 or go to the emergency room.