1. Moisturize. About one week prior to your session, specifically a long session, you want to start using lotion to moisturize the area being tattooed. Doing this will make the skin more receptive to pigment (ink).
2. Hydrate - and I do not mean with alcohol. If you don't normally drink much water, drink a few glasses in the days leading up to your session. This has a similar effect to the lotion and (aside from being healthy for you in general) helps to keep the skin healthy, hydrated, and primed for tattooing.
3. Sleep. Make sure you get a solid nap in before getting tattooed, preferably 8 hours. Coming in feeling well rested will get you in a better mindset to handle a long, draining tattoo session.
4. Eat. Have a good meal 1-2 hours before your appointment. It's a good idea to bring a snack and a gatorade also. When you get tattooed, you lose a bit more blood than you expect, so having something in your stomach will help keep your blood sugar level up. In turn, the food and sugary snacks will keep you as comfortable as possible in the chair.
5. Lastly, this may sound like some ancient fortune cookie wisdom, but I can't stress enough that you need a positive mental attitude before and during your session. The natural reaction to pain is to run from it - instead of thinking about how much it hurts, focus on your breathing and put the pain elsewhere. This basic meditation technique will help the tattoo become less about pain, and more about the sensation. A simple shift in your thinking seems too easy, but it's a very effective way to change the mood of the tattoo from tension to acceptance. You just have to let go, and let it happen.
What you SHOULD NOT DO before a tattoo session:
No tanning, fake tanning, chemical peels, sunburns, major cuts or scrapes, in the area to be tattooed within a month prior to your session. I can’t work on freshly damaged skin...it won’t heal properly.
No extreme weight lifting in or near the area to be tattooed at least 2 days prior to your session to prevent unnecessary swelling & soreness.
THE DAY OF
Please do not bring the entire family or friend group unless they are also getting tattooed. Trust me, the process gets pretty dull after a while. One person is okay as long as they aren't interfering with the tattoo process.
For safety reasons, please do not bring small children or babies.
Dress comfortably and appropriately. Be prepared for it to be cold & warm. Bring socks or flip flops to prevent walking around the studio barefoot during breaks if you will be taking your shoes off during your session.
You are also invited to bring your own pillow for laying or sitting on during your tattoo.
I have a Tv and music for you in the room, but the studio does get loud at times, so please bring some form of entertainment for yourself like an IPOD, IPAD, Laptop, etc. with your own headphones just incase.
Please do not schedule something immediately after your tattoo in case we are running behind or long.
Please do not use any numbing products on the area to be tattooed and please do not come in under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. For pain, Advil, Tylenol, or Benadryl are acceptable during your session.
WHILE YOU ARE GETTING TATTOOED
Please be aware of cross contamination. Do not touch your fresh tattoo during your session. Do not let anyone else touch your tattoo either!
Do not touch any of the tattoo equipment or work space.
Talking is fine during you session, but please do not talk with your hands, nod your head, or excessively move other body parts as this can cause the area being tattooed to move as well.
By far the least complicated of my three methods, Leave the wrap on for 96 hours minimum (4 days). If removed during that time frame, begin the conventional method with cleaning, and switch from aquaphor to lotion when the tattoo begins peeling. If the bandage is left on for the full 96 hours, simply remove it, keep the tattoo clean, and use lotion as needed whenever the tattoo dries out fully.
The tattoo was cleaned properly before bandaging, so you don't need to clean it while the bandage is on. Saniderm allows the tattoo to breathe, but it is also a moisture barrier; as such, it is water resistant, but that also means that any excess ink, blood or plasma that seeps out of a new tattoo will be trapped inside. This is normal. If a pool of fluid does become trapped inside the bandage - not a quarter sized bubble, but half dollar or larger - you may use scissors to cut a small hole in the bandage to drain the fluid. After draining, RE-SEAL the Saniderm using the spare piece given to you at the studio. Alternatively, the spare saniderm can also be used to seal fraying edges, and should you need more you can purchase "Tegaderm" at Walgreens or CVS. In any case, use your best judgement.
If your bandage becomes torn, is leaking excessively, etc. please contact me at the studio so I can go over how to proceed - if you can't reach me in a timely manner for whatever reason, remove wrap and use the conventional healing method.
Do your best not to sweat excessively - work is fine, but avoid the gym while using Saniderm. It can be left on during the shower as well, but this does not mean you should submerge the tattoo in water for a prolonged period of time through a bath or swimming.
Remove the bandage after 2 hours, but no more than 12. Don’t remove the bandage until you can properly clean the tattoo with mild soap and warm water. Rinse it well, cleaning off any plasma or slimy buildup. Gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel (never re-use a towel as it will hold bacteria) then allow it to air-dry for 15 minutes before applying ointment.
Apply Aquaphor ointment or a specialty tattoo-healing product to the tattoo as needed, massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moist, but NOT smothered. Use just enough ointment to make the tattoo slightly shiny, and blot off any excess.
For the first few days treat your tattoo like the open wound it is. Clean it 2-3 times daily, or more often if the area gets sweaty or dirty, and then apply ointment as needed. Ensure that extra moisture doesn't get trapped under the ointment, by blotting and air-drying after each washing. Only apply ointment for as long as it takes for your tattoo to peel, usually 3-4 days. When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn. At this point simply keep the tattoo clean, and begin to use a scent free, dye free lotion as needed. Always let the tattoo dry out completely before applying more lotion.
The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Therefore, limit yourself to only short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling. It’s also important that a fresh tattoo be protected from the sun and dirty environments. All normal activities involving water or sun exposure can usually be resumed after 10-14 days, when the tattooed skin feels normal.
NEVER pick at the cracked and flaking skin. The area will become dry and itchy, and a good quality, fragrance-free lotion can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.
Any time your tattoo is exposed to the sun after its done healing you should use a minimum of SPF 45 sunblock.
**DO NOT USE THIS METHOD UNLESS SPECIFICALLY INSTRUCTED**
*Please read through the entire process before using it*
This is the less conventional method, and tends to work well for larger tattoos, as well as tattoos in awkward areas that will be covered with clothing, as this can cause irritation. If you find that your tattoos have healed poorly in the past, this method may be an effective alternative.
Remove your bandage after about 2 hours, and clean it with mild soap and warm water as in Method 1. After washing, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel (again, never re use towels as they hold bacteria!) then allow it to air-dry for 15 minutes. When the tattoo is dry to the touch, apply a very thin amount of Aquaphor or specialty tattoo aftercare to the tattoo - just enough to make it shiny, and then blot off the excess with a paper towel. Then over it completely with a NEW piece of plastic wrap, using small pieces of tape as needed to hold it in place.
With this method, the tattoo is kept completely covered with plastic wrap 24 hours a day, for as long as it takes to peel—usually 3 to 5 days. It’s important to wash the tattoo every 4-6 hours or after any period of sweating, letting it completely air-dry afterwards, and applying a new piece of plastic wrap each time. This 6 hour time window to change the wrap is not a guideline, it's a rule - leaving the wrap on for too long can lead to moisture rash. Also the wrap should not be left off for more than 30 mins at a time. It’s also important not to over-wrap the area, unnecessarily covering untattooed skin can trap excess moisture. The same precautions as Method 1 regarding water and sunlight apply to this method as well.
When the peeling begins after 2-4 days, the tattooed skin will bubble and flake exactly like a sunburn. NEVER pick at the cracked and flaking skin. When the whole tattoo has FULLY entered the peeling phase, discontinue the plastic wrap. The area will become dry and itchy, and a good quality, fragrance-free lotion can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.
As mentioned before, moisture can be very detrimental to the healing process. Too much plastic wrap on the surrounding untattooed skin—or not changing the wrap often enough—can lead to development of a moisture rash. This will appear as bright red irritation with tiny pimples around the effected area, and will likely feel painful and itchy. If this happens, do not re-wrap the tattoo or try to medicate it. Instead, let it dry completely and peel on its own. Apply lotion to the area once irritation has diminished.
*A combination of methods 2 and 3 is NOT recommended. Please only use one or the other.*
TROUBLESOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
After you've been tattooed there are things that are considered "normal" to the process like mild cold symptoms also known as "Tattoo Flu" along with swelling, inflation and tenderness. In most situations these symptoms should only last 2-3 days, after which your tattoo should be itchy and a little sore. That being said, please keep an eye out for the following, especially if they occur more than 72 hours after your session:
Discoloration, "hot spots" that are extra tender and warm, pus, bleeding that occurs days after your tattoo is finished, swelling and inflammation that persists for an extended period of time (longer than 3 days), foul smelling odor, fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else feels out of the ordinary and causes concern, please contact your doctor.