I’m not sure about you, but the first time I got a tattoo I had no idea what to expect when it came to the tattoo healing process and pictures of healing tattoo stages.
I vividly remember, asking someone who was completely covered in tattoos if what was happening to me was normal. I was never prepped by my artist for what to expect and honestly cant even blame him because to him he knew what to expect and probably assumed I did too.
It’s pretty important to at least have a solid understanding of what a tattoo looks like as it goes through the healing stages so that you can know that you are on the right track and so you can act immediately if you think that something is going wrong (infection/color fading).
I can’t stress enough how important it is to take care of your tattoo when you are going through the healing stages – the tattoo is not complete until it has been healed.
Obviously, you’ll start out at the tattoo shop with a stencil placed where you’re tattoo will be. Take into consideration the placement, is this where you want your tattoo to be? Does it make sense and flow with your other tattoos?
Quick Note: I got this piece of advice from my tattoo artist. When doing faces or portraits ensure that the direction the face is looking or facing is going towards your body. I was intrigued when he mentioned this and the basic premise as to why you would do this is that the tattoo does look “off” or “wrong” if it is not facing in.
In the second phase that you will see, the tattoo will be wrapped in sterile wrapping with ointment on the tattoo to assist with the open wound that will have leaking bodily fluids underneath. It is during this phase that your tattoo artist may advise you to keep the tattoo wrapped for a few hours (2-4) or leave it on overnight if your session was completed late.
This is a stage when the tattoo is sore and painful to the touch and most likely will be leaking bodily fluids for a few more days. It is important to keep the tattoo clean with anti-bacterial soap and keep the tattoo moisturizes with your preferred form of ointment.
The third picture of the tattoo healing stages demonstrates what your tattoo will look like the week or so after you have gotten the tattoo just before it starts to peel. It is going to be red and a bit sore to the touch and will have a “brighter” look to it.
During this time you will want to take good care of the tattoo:
- Keep the area clean with a reliable anti-bacterial soap
- Moisturize the tattoo a couple times daily to prevent itching, scabbing, and poor healing quality.
- Do not allow the tattooed area to come into contact with anything dirty.
If you do in fact bump into someone that is sweating, have someone sneeze on the area, or fall into a puddle of mud (who know’s?). Go ahead and clean the area and keep an eye on the area to make sure that it remains clean and heals correctly.
The fourth stage that will inevitably be encountered as you are going through the tattoo healing stages is that of the tattoo peeling. This can freak out many newbies when you are not prepared for what to expect.
Why Does Your Tattoo Peel?
When you receive a tattoo the needle that contains the ink pierces your skin thousands of times over in a condensed area. Each time it is introducing a foreign substance to your body and your immune system reacts quickly to the skin being repeatedly “attacked”. It responds as though your body has just received an open would therefore causing blood and plasma to quickly rush to the area.
The bodies response to the area that has been tattooed is that it has been attacked and the cells that are damaged must be removed from the body. With the tattoo affecting the top levels of your skin, your body will shed the damaged cells and in turn recover with a new layer of skin showing.
The peeling stage is essentially the body repairing the damaged cells from the tattoo process you went through. The bodies is responding to the open wound and shedding those damaged cells and replacing them with a new, healthy layer of skin (with your tattoo now in it).
There are a few observations that I have come to understand when my tattoo has gone through this stage.
- Color tattoo’s seem to peel and itch much worse than black and grey tattoos.
- It is vital that you Do Not itch/scratch/pick the tattoo as it is peeling.
- Keep your tattoo moisturized as the tattoo is peeling.
- When in the shower, use antibacterial soap and gently apply it to the peeling area to remove fragments of skin.
In my experience the peeling stage doesn’t last too long, generally I go through this stage for a week – no more than two weeks. This is all dependent on the person, everyone’s body will heal at different rates and I wouldn’t worry with how your tattoo is peeling, just take care of the area and focus on not picking or itching at the flakes of skin.
Note: If you pick at the area you risk pulling color from the tattoo.
The final stage that I have depicted in the pictures of the tattoo healing stages is that of a completed tattoo. This is after it is done peeling and the area is healed. As you can tell the color does appear faded. This is how healed tattoos look when they have been full recovered and that is because the tattooed skin has repaired and replaced itself.
Having a great tattoo artist is one of the best things you can really do to support your goal of having the best tattoo quality post recovery. Obviously, it is not going to look as vibrant as it does when it is fresh and new, so it is vital that you find a tattoo artist that understands the art of providing high quality tattoos.
Taking the initiative to prepare yourself and focus on using the best tattoo healing products is important, below are some of my recommendations when it comes to tattoo aftercare.