With advances in technology, lasers can now eliminate tattoos more safely and effectively, including removing tattoo ink with fewer treatments. However, the way patients care for their skin between treatments can be just as crucial to a successful outcome.
To better care for the skin after each treatment, Dr. Marie Leger, a board-certified dermatologist, suggests physicians recommend the following tips to patients:
1. Wash the treated area twice daily with water and a gentle cleanser. Then, use a clean cotton swab to apply petrolatum to the area. This will help keep the skin moist so that it will not dry out or form scabs. To prevent infection, cover the treated area with a dressing until the skin heals.
2. Protect the treated skin from the sun. Since the treated skin is more susceptible to sun damage, which can lead to pigmentation changes, keep the treated area out of direct sun exposure. When outdoors, wear protective clothing, such as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants or a wide-brimmed hat. Once the treated skin is healed, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, which deflects the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
3. Avoid picking at any flaking, peeling, blisters or scabs that form. Avoid popping blisters, which can cause an infection.
4. Know what is normal. After a laser tattoo removal session, there may be some redness, swelling and blistering as the skin heals. However, if there are signs of an infection, such as increasing redness and pain, swelling or pus, contact the doctor.
“For the best results and to reduce your risk of serious side effects, such as scarring, burns and other wounds, it is important to make sure the person treating you is a physician who is extremely skilled in using lasers and has in-depth knowledge of the skin,” said Dr. Leger in a press release. “After that, it’s also important to properly care for the treated skin between sessions, as your skin needs time to heal and flush out the ink.”