05) 7 tips for your first laser treatment

March

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March 12th 2016

Next month I will be posting the article about my first and second treatment. But first I wanted to share some tips with you.

I decided to write down some treatment tips, things I guess I would have liked to have known in advance. Some may not work for you or might be irrelevant if your tattoo is a lot smaller than mine (which is about 40 x 35 cm).

Please keep in mind the tips are based on my personal experiences. Also, since I had the intake meeting and the first treatment at once, there was no time to use a numbing creme. The pain will most likely be less next time. If you want to know more about what it feels like, read my article next week.

1. Drinking water

Though I didn’t find scientific proof that drinking water or being fit before your treatment makes it any better, it did make me feel good in my skin. And that made it easier for me to accept the fact that this treatment would be hard on my body. Because it is, it really is. When I say hard I don’t just refer to pain, but the whole experience was new to me. It just takes a lot of energy and you’re tired afterwards.
I made sure I had a good night sleep and I didn’t drink alcoholic beverages the days before the appointment. Also, being hydrated enough gave me the feeling my body would be more capable of dealing with the laser heat and ‘cleaning’ up the ink right after the treatment. Once again, I have no proof, just my own experience.

After the treatment your body can feel sore. You had to deal with pain, maybe have some tension in the muscles and the tattoo area feels warm (maybe painful). I made sure I was wearing loos fit clothes, without zippers, buttons, that could irritate it. Also, I made sure I layered the top, shirt and vest, so I could take it off if I got to warm. By wearing older clothes, you don’t need to worry about stains from the numbing creme or little specks of blood (happens occasionally).
And let’s face it, a trip to the clinic for a treatment like this, is not your most glamorous moment. Although…. if your tattoo is smaller, it might not be an issue.

3. Bring a (driving) buddy!

Like I said, you’ll probably feel sore and maybe a little dizzy after the treatment. My advice would be to not drive yourself, but look for a buddy. Gives you the chance to relax before arriving and it’s safer/less stressful on the way home.
You can also ask them to take pictures during the treatment, if you can see it yourself. (Like in my case, when the tattoo is on your back)
Besides, the mental support is great!

4. Communicate and get comfortable

Because of the size of my tattoo, the whole treatment took about 30 minutes.
I started out sitting with my legs on the side of the chair. I had nothing to lean into and my body had to fight the urge to ‘duck’. Halfway through we agreed laying down might help. For me personally, it was much better. I could hold on and ‘crush’ the chair with my arms to handle the pain and keep my body from moving too much. – Remember, no numbing creme – After that, the rest was done much quicker!
While sitting up, I could keep going for about 20 seconds before I needed a break. Laying down, I managed to hold on for more than a minute.
I should have just asked for that from the start, but assumed it wasn’t an option. So if you any ideas/questions, make sure you ASK. Tell them what you need during treatment. If you want to be distracted, want to cry or shout or prefer silence. They’ve probably seen it all.

5. Get through the first seconds

It turns out, when I held on past the first few seconds with the laser, it got a lot less painful. When I kept asking them to stop, it was harder to start again, because I had to get used to the feeling over and over again. This took a lot of energy, more than it did to hold on a little longer. (I kinda feel like a wuss now, telling the story like this..)
Counting seconds also worked for me. She would say; “Let’s do 10 more seconds?” and I would respond with: “Make it 20.” It made me proud when I managed to make it there and you’re done quicker. Off course, when you need a break, you need a break!

6. Cold is your friend

Some clinics use a cooling device to cool the skin before and during the laser treatment. I swear, this thing is my best friend, I loved it! It takes away some of the pain and calmed my skin while the laser was moving around.
Also, when arriving at home, I used frozen peas to cool my back. Make sure you don’t put them directly on the skin or bandages though, and don’t let it get wet. (I rapped it in towels and replaced them when they got to damp.) About two hours after I got home, cooling was no longer needed and most of the pain was gone. I think the cooling really helped that time.

7. Good night sleep

I can’t tell you if it works for you to get a good night rest after you laser the tattoo. For me, the painful feeling was gone long before I even got into bed that day. But just in case, I took some painkillers and drank a lot of water. I had changed my sheets that morning, so the bed was a clean and crisp reward. I used older sheets, because the creme is left on your tattoo over night until you can take a (medium warm) shower the next morning.

I’m really curious to now how your first treatment went and if you agree with me. Or maybe have more tips to add to this list?