10 Tips Reduce Swelling After Tattoo Removal

Reduce Swelling After Tattoo Removal

Getting a tattoo removed is often more painful than getting one placed originally. The laser breaks down the ink particles, triggering an inflammatory response that makes skin puffy, red, and tender. So how long does swelling last after laser tattoo removal? Swelling typically peaks at 24-48 hours post-treatment and can last up to 1 week. Here’s what causes it and how to ease discomfort during the healing process.

What Makes Skin Swell Up After Tattoo Removal?

Laser tattoo removal works by blasting ink pigment with pulses of high-intensity light. The laser breaks the large ink particles into tiny fragments. Your immune system then kicks into high gear to clear out these foreign bodies.

White blood cells rush to the area, releasing fluid and inflammatory chemicals. This influx of fluid pressing up against vessels and tissues leads to swelling and inflammation.

For most, swelling subsides within 5-7 days as the body flushes out ink remnants and repairs itself. Talk to your technician if the swelling seems severe or gets worse instead of better. Signs of infection include pus, expanding redness, fever, and pain.

Is It Normal For Skin to Be Swollen After Treatment?

Mild to moderate puffiness, redness, and tenderness is completely normal following a laser session. Swelling after tattoo removal indicates the body’s inflammatory and healing responses are working. More extensive swelling could mean:

  • Deep tattoo with more layers of ink to eliminate
  • Sensitive skin prone to dramatic inflammation
  • Developing infection that requires medical care

Monitor the treated area and watch for excessive stinging, oozing, fever, and expanding redness. Alert your physician promptly about concerns.

When Swelling Peaks After Laser Tattoo Removal Sessions

The timeline for swelling is often:

  • 8-12 hours post-treatment: Skin gets red, tender, warm, and slightly puffy
  • 24-48 hours: Inflammation peaks with moderate swelling
  • 3-5 days: Swelling improves but some thickness and redness remain
  • 1 week: Treated area deflates to near normal

But each person heals differently based on your:

  • Age
  • Health status
  • Medications
  • Tattoo size, location, layers of ink

Track your healing closely rather than relying on averages.

Also Check Laser Tattoo Removal:

10 Methods to Reduce Swelling Discomfort After Treatment

While post-treatment swelling can’t be avoided entirely, the following remedies can minimize discomfort:

1. Apply Ice Packs

Applying something frozen reduces inflammation by constricting blood vessels and slowing cell activity. Wrap ice cubes or cold packs in a thin towel and hold them against the treated area for 10-20 minutes each hour initially. Avoid direct contact with skin to prevent frostbite.

2. Take OTC Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium work by blocking inflammatory triggers called prostaglandins. Follow the instructions on the label and don’t exceed dosage recommendations. Alert your technician about all medications you take.

3. Keep the Treated Area Elevated

Lay down and prop up pillows so the tattoo removal area sits higher than your heart. Sit in a reclined chair and put your feet up. This positioning uses gravity to reduce fluid accumulation leading to puffiness.

4. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water and eat fruits and vegetables with high water content. Proper hydration supports toxin and waste removal through urine, stool, and sweat. Adequate fluid intake also improves lymph drainage to cut down on trapped fluid.

5. Apply Hydrocortisone Cream

Ask your laser removal technician if using an over-the-counter topical steroid like 1% hydrocortisone is recommended. This helps control inflammation and constricts leaky vessels. Use only as directed.

6. Take an Oral Antihistamine

Histamine release contributes heavily to the inflammatory response. Antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Benadryl block histamine receptors responsible for symptoms like skin swelling.

7. Use Cold Compresses

Wrap frozen gel packs or bags of ice in a washcloth or thin towel. Apply this cold compress to tattooed skin for 10-15 minutes each hour to constrict blood vessels. Make sure the wrapping doesn’t get wet.

8. Get Light Exercise

Light physical activity triggers the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. It also boosts circulation to improve healing. Go for a short walk or do gentle yoga poses. Avoid strenuous workouts that strain treated skin.

9. Ask About Compression

Your laser technician may recommend medical compression sleeves, wraps or tape. Compression garments provide gentle pressure that encourages fluid drainage through the lymphatic system. This reduces trapped fluid and swelling.

10. Seek Medical Care if Worried

Contact your laser technician without delay if swelling seems severe or gets dramatically worse. Also call right away about signs of infection like fever, expanding redness, discharge or severe pain. Monitoring for adverse reactions is critical.

Reduce Swelling After Tattoo Removal

Handling Tattoo Removal Recovery: Do’s and Don’ts


  • Cleanse broken skin gently 1-2 times daily
  • Apply fragrance-free moisturizer 2-3 times per day
  • Take over-the-counter meds as recommended
  • Follow aftercare sheet guidelines closely


  • Scratch or pick scabs or blisters
  • Go swimming until the skin heals fully
  • Take hot baths or long showers
  • Miss follow up appointments

Careful swelling control and aftercare makes healing less troublesome. Always reach out to your removal expert if you have concerns about symptoms.

Pro Tip: Watch What You Eat and Drink Post-Treatment

Some foods and beverages can worsen inflammation, while others help calm it. For best results:

✔️ Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables ✔️ Choose cold-water fish high in omega-3s
✔️ Avoid excess salt, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine ✔️ Stay hydrated with water and herbal tea

What you consume impacts swelling and how fast tattooed skin recovers. Be mindful of dietary choices.

When to Call the Doctor About Swelling

Consult a physician right away if you experience:

  • Expanding redness
  • Severe pain
  • Foul odor
  • Fever over 100°F
  • Fatigue and headache
  • Oozing discharge
  • Hives or skin rash

These can indicate an infection or allergic reaction that requires medical intervention. Don’t take chances with symptoms that seem abnormal.

Finding Relief From Post-Treatment Discomfort

It’s common for skin to become swollen, sore, and inflamed during the tattoo removal process. Utilize the swelling reduction tips provided above to keep discomfort manageable.

Check in with your laser technician about concerns. They may adjust treatment settings or provide additional numbing medication. Proper aftercare ensures you heal up properly.

With several treatments spaced 6-8 weeks apart to fade ink fully, it pays to establish an effective swelling control routine. Arm yourself with information so you know what to expect.

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