Q: What’s the best non-surgical procedure for removing tattoos?

A: Today, the treatment of choice for tattoo removal is light therapy, including the Infrared Coagulator (IRC), which heats the area containing the pigment. It takes about three sessions for optimal results and costs $1,500. For more information on tattoo removal, check out our interview with cosmetic dermatologist Nelson Lee Novick, M.D., here .

Q. When is it safe to shave over a tattoo?

A. The tattoo and surrounding skin should be completely healed before shaving. You’ll know the area has healed when there’s no peeling or irregularities (including bumps, scabs or raised areas). For most people, complete healing takes five to 10 days.

by team
For thousands of years, tattoos have been a popular form of body art and expression. But, whether it’s small, inconspicuous flowers or all-over tribal tattoos, it’s vital to take good care of your tattoo. Here’s what you need to do after getting inked.

Before you go

Part of taking good care of your tattoo is going to an experienced, reputable professional and parlor. Also, before you go, understand that you’re in for a pretty invasive process. A tattoo involves the permanent placement of pigments beneath the surface of the skin using a small, rapidly vibrating machine.

Before you commit to the tattoo, use the following checklist to ensure the safety of your skin.

  • Check out online reviews or seek personal recommendations for respected tattoo artists and parlors

  • Request to see up-to-date licenses

  • Inquire about safety and sanitation practices

  • Observe tattoos in progress: Are the artists wearing gloves? Is there an autoclave (a device that sterilizes nondisposable equipment after each individual)?

Don’t be afraid that your questions will offend the tattoo artist. A true professional will be happy to answer all inquiries and do whatever is needed to show the proper practices.

After the ink

Because tattoos are considered cosmetic, there are no FDA regulations for the safety of the pigments or the procedure. To ensure that your skin stays healthy and your new tattoo remains in tip-top shape, consider the following expert recommendations.

  • Keep it covered.

    A tattoo is much like an open wound that needs time to heal. Keeping your body art covered with a breathable bandage prevents potentially harmful airborne bacteria from infecting the skin around the tattoo. Keep the bandage on for at least two hours after leaving the tattoo parlor.

  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.

    To prevent infections, gently wash the area of skin with a mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Pat the tattoo dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. Then, apply a mild antibacterial cream, such as Bacitracin or A&D Original Ointment.

  • Watch for infections.

    As soon as you get home, it’s essential to keep a close eye on infections. Watch for the following symptoms:

    • Redness

    • Warmth

    • Swelling

    • Pus

    If one or more of these symptoms appear, then you should consult a doctor. Even a seemingly mild skin infection can lead to serious health conditions, including pneumonia and blood infections.

  • Be careful with scabbing skin.

    In the first few days after your tattoo, you may notice that the area around it develops small bumps or even scabs. It’s important not to pick at scabs; instead place a warm, wet compress on them for five minutes several times each day.

  • Hydrate peeling skin.

    If you observe peeling around the tattoo, you may want to apply a thin layer of lotion. Experts advise against petroleum-based ointments as they may fade the color of your tattoo. Try a lightweight oil-free lotion such as Ole Henriksen Body Sleek Lotion.

  • Don’t drown your tattoo.

    It’s certainly okay to shower the day of your tattoo. However, avoid submerging your tattoo in water (including baths, pools and hot tubs) for at least two weeks.

  • Protect it.

    Prevent the color on your tattoo from fading by diligently applying a sunscreen before exposing it to the sun. Quintessence Sunshade SPF 30 offers broad-spectrum protection and is safe for sensitive skin immediately after non-surgical procedures.

See also:

Concealing your Tattoos at Work

Laser Resurfacing: Weighing Your Options

Minimally Invasive Lunchtime Beauty Fixes: Tattoo Removal

Caring for Sensitive Skin

Smart Skincare Shopping


Quintessence Sunshade SPF 30 Untinted Q-SunShade™ SPF 30+ Tinted Zinc Oxide Sunscreen with Z-COTE® Green Tea & Vitamins D &E is the perfect combination of broad-spectrum sun protection, color, and moisture with all the benefits of vitamins and antioxidants to help protect and restore the skin from the damage of Ultraviolet Light. "
Ole Henriksen Body Sleek Lotion This perfect blend of Swiss Collagen Protein, Vitamins A and D, plus Avocado and Apricot oils nourishes and hydrates even the driest skin. The non-irritating formula and light, fresh scent are gentle enough for a baby's skin."
AHAVA Mineral Body Lotion Intense moisturizers work to make this formula an ideal milk that hydrates and heals your skin. "
ATOPALM MLE Body Lotion This light, non-greasy formula penetrates the layers of your skin and absorbs quickly and easily locking in moisture."
Amerigel Care Lotion Amerigel Premium Care Lotion restores lost moisture to fragile skin, promotes natural healing, protects and soothes rough, dry, irritated skin."

"The information provided on is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have a medical question or concern regarding any news item or article on this news magazine, please consult your physician..."