When you get a tattoo, the artist targets your skin with an inkjet and presses the needle to your epidermis. Even though it feels like nothing more than a pinprick at the time, that initial puncture wounds your skin in a way that creates a long-term mark.
To remove a tattoo, you need to break up pigment particles in the skin and force them to fade over time. Laser tattoo removal does just that by targeting tattoos with small flashes of light visible only to cameras as a red or green light. An intense laser process can leave blisters on your skin after treatment if you’re not careful about how you take care of yourself after the appointment.
Laser tattoo removal blisters are common side effects of this procedure. Fortunately, there are ways to treat them if they appear during your tattoo-removal session. These blisters don’t mean you should abandon your treatment plan or stop having laser sessions. They’re fairly common and only temporary, and having them does not increase your risk for scarring after laser tattoo removal. Let’s take a closer look at what these blisters mean and how you can treat them right away…
What is a Tattoo Blister?
A tattoo blister is a fluid-filled sac that forms on the site of your old tattoo after laser tattoo removal. This blister is your body’s way of trying to heal itself, so you don’t need to worry about it being a sign of infection.
Blisters happen when your skin is injured and your immune system sends small proteins to the surface to repair the damage. While these bubbles of plasma are beneficial once you get a paper cut, they can be a nuisance if you have a lot of laser treatments. Blisters can form after your second or third laser treatment, depending on your tattoo size, ink color, and your skin type. Odds are your dermatologist will be able to identify if you’re predisposed to blistering before your first treatment.
Blisters are largely cosmetic, but they can cause discomfort and impede your ability to move around freely. You can treat them with a combination of cold compresses, salt water, and ointments that reduce swelling and promote healing.
What are the causes of blisters after tattoo removal?
If you get blisters after laser treatment, you might be experiencing a condition called a “thermal burn”. This is caused by overheating your skin as the laser breaks apart pigment in your skin. It’s not a serious injury, but it can cause considerable discomfort and may require medical attention if it spreads to other areas.
Blisters caused by thermal burns often form on the surface of your skin, but they can also develop further beneath your skin if the laser isn’t focused enough. If your blister goes beyond the skin, you may need medical attention for a skin graft. Thermal burns caused by laser tattoo removal can leave scars if you don’t take care of yourself after the treatment. Your dermatologist can help you reduce the risk of scarring by choosing a wavelength and power setting that minimizes blistering.
What to expect when you get laser tattoo removal
At your laser tattoo removal appointment, a dermatologist will use a handheld laser device to break up pigment in your skin. This is the same device they use to remove the tattoo, and it emits short bursts of light at various wavelengths. Blisters tend to occur on the area of your skin closest to the laser. If you get them, your dermatologist will likely recommend a topical numbing agent like lidocaine to reduce the pain.
Blisters form a few hours after your treatment, as your skin begins to repair itself. Your dermatologist may recommend that you take a hot shower or soak in a warm bath to open up the pores and speed up the healing process. Blisters are a normal part of the process, so try not to worry about them. They’ll fade in a few days, leaving you with bright, new skin.
How to prevent blistering after tattoo removal
Preventing blistering after laser tattoo removal isn’t easy, but there are a few steps you can take to mitigate the risk.
First and foremost, you should talk to your dermatologist about your risk of blistering and how they’ll deal with it if it happens.
Blisters can be prevented if you avoid wearing tight clothing or shoes after your treatment. Try to let your skin breathe as much as possible to let it cool down and promote faster healing.
A cool compress applied to the area can reduce pain and speed up healing.
You can also take an over-the-counter painkiller to help you relax.
Blisters are largely cosmetic, but they can be a source of considerable pain and discomfort. Be sure to take care of yourself after your treatment to prevent blistering, and you should be able to enjoy the process.
The Dangers of Tattooing and Laser Tattoo Removal
Laser tattoo removal is a safe procedure, but some risk factors could lead to an infection. A blister can form beneath the skin, which could become infected if not treated well. Blisters are a sign that your skin has been injured, so you should treat them as such.
Clean the wound with antibiotic soap as directed and make sure to cover it with a clean bandage to reduce the risk of infection. Blisters can also lead to scarring if you don’t treat them correctly. Always make sure to use an antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage to prevent your wound from getting infected.
Blistering is a normal part of the process, but it can become dangerous if you don’t take care of your skin properly. Make sure to clean your wound and keep it covered.
When Should You See a Doctor?
You should schedule a follow-up visit with your dermatologist if your blister doesn’t go away within a few days. You should also see a doctor if your blister doesn’t heal properly, if it becomes infected, or if it spreads to another part of your body.
Blisters can be a sign that you’re allergic to the wavelength of light your dermatologist uses in their laser. If your blister doesn’t go away, let your dermatologist know so they can minimize the risk of a serious allergic reaction. Blisters can be a sign that something is wrong, so make sure you see a doctor if they last longer than a few days or become painful. Your dermatologist can help you treat your wound and make sure the laser treatment is as effective as possible.