The Stages of Healing a Tattoo

Tattoo Healing Process

Did you know that your tattoo starts to heal the moment the needle leaves the skin? Your body is an efficient machine and it can heal almost anything with it’s own processes. Your skin goes through several processes to actually heal and there’s so many things that could potentially go wrong it’s a wonder that anyone’s tattoos heal correctly! Often it’s the healing of the tattoo that determines whether it will still look as good as it was when it was done. It’s essential to follow your artist’s advice on aftercare as the industry is constantly finding new and improved ways of healing.

It Takes Time

“I heal in a week” gets said a lot by clients impatient to get work done before vacations or impending holidays. The truth is the healing process takes weeks even if the top layer of skin has peeled. Everyone heals at a different rate so your tattoo may take more or less time to heal than your friend. Your artist isn’t a doctor, so while they can tell you what’s normal if something smells weird or looks bad then you should head to an actual doctor rather than just “waiting and seeing” if it heals.

Day 1:

On the first day after getting tattooed your ink should be very very visible. The skin is taught and everything looks bright. It’s the best time to see how this process turned out because there’s no blood anymore and this is what you’ve got, just a little brighter. It’s still an open wound so it’s essential not to get anything in it and to keep it clean.

Day 2-6:

Once your tattoo is wrapped in the shop it’s going to continue to push plasma out of the skin. This clear oozy liquid will continue to leak for up to 48 hours after your tattoo is finished. Plasma is 50% of the blood’s composition and is used to make clots and scabs. You’ll want to keep this from crusting over on top and wash it clean if it’s still oozing. Your tattoo may still feel hot for these few days but it’s part of the healing process. Inflammation is used to destroy infectious agents by white blood cells which are attempting to heal the wound. During this time your body is focused on closing up that outer layer of skin to prevent infections getting in. Some people may bruise during this stage if their skin is delicate or dehydrated.

Day 5-12:

Depending on how fast you heal you’ll start seeing the skin looking a little rough at this point. The top layer of skin has healed and the damaged cells on top will be starting to shed. You may have some scabs or peeling skin but it’s no longer bleeding or seeping unless you’ve scratched a scab free. Your tattoo may seem dull or cloudy at this point but it’s under there. If you’re seeing a lot of scabbing you may be using too much or too little aftercare. Scabbing generally relates to this or to overworked areas if your artist was heavy handed.

Day 10-30:

Your tattoo will gradually brighten up as the skin finishes shedding. It takes about a month for the dermis under the top layer to reform, especially if it’s a larger tattoo. As your skin naturally sheds the outer skin cells any cloudiness should clear up and the top layer of skin will look just like the rest of your body. It may seem a little dull at first so continue to moisturize regularly. At this point your tattoo is essentially healed.

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