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Hey all! I don't know if this will help anybody but I thought I'd post my experiences with lower leg tattoos.

I have a full calf sleeve on my right leg and am working on the left right now which is also partly a coverup of a coverup. LOL! I ran into many of the same issues I see in this thread while I was trying to heal. There is so much conflicting information out there about what to do and what not to do that it becomes impossible to get good information sometimes. But I've finally run into something that works really well for me.

First I want to say that everybody's body is different. Nobody is going to heal the same way. Ever. So I think people should focus on finding out what works for their own body. From what I've found there is no right or wrong way. Every artist is going to have a preferred method but what works for them might not work for you at all. I've heard "never let your tattoo dry out or it will be ruined!". I've heard "if it scabs, it's ruined!!". I've also heard "never re-cover a tattoo after the first day or it will be ruined!". I've found absolutely none of this to be true in real life.

When I first started working on my right calf we started out with Tatu-derm after the initial sitting. Found out pretty fast that I was allergic to it. I have pretty sensitive skin which the Tatu-derm would actually rip off when it was removed which needless to say, caused further healing issues and damage to the ink which had to be touched up later. So I went back to a more traditional covering after each session which worked much better. I started out with the usual washing the area several times a day and trying to keep it moisturized constantly. For me this resulted in quite a bit more weeping which caused more scabbing. I always had a lot of swelling. A LOT! By day 3 I'd have a cankle - swelling everywhere - and I'd be experiencing that horrible pain upon standing and all that not so fun stuff. Healing was kind of a bear but I got there. 11 months of work and I have a beautiful calf sleeve.

With this next one I had a couple of sittings and went through the usual procedures. The initial bandage would be on for a few hours after completion, then that would come off and the area would get washed. Then the first night it would get antibiotic ointment and be covered again. Yes, I've heard the "never use antibiotic ointment" thing too. Some people are allergic to it so that can be a problem but I am not so it's been fine. The third sitting I was having some issues with the area being pretty sore. Trying to sleep with it was impossible because I couldn't position my legs comfortably enough so that they wouldn't stick to each other and irritate the tattoo, or stick to the sheets. So I kind of said screw it and I used the ointment and bandaged my leg for the first five nights (until it wasn't too sore to sleep with any more), leaving it unwrapped during the day. I did this purely out of desperation for comfort and soreness relief and it went against everything I'd ever read about healing a tattoo. But what I ended up with in the end was a beautiful heal and nearly no swelling. I had NONE of the extreme pain on standing thing either. None. I only had a mild amount of scabbing as well and only in certain areas. The work from that sitting healed beautifully.

So I went in for my 4th sitting this last Friday and I confessed to my artist that I had used the ointment and covered it longer than I was "supposed to" but that I ended up with a beautiful heal. She told me about an artist friend of hers who was having great success wrapping the leg with ointment for a full week. Daytime too, not just at night. At the end he says it's perfectly healed. So I decided to give it a try. I'm on day 4 now of the wrap. I change the bandage twice a day, wash the area and apply more ointment before adding a new bandage and wrapping again. I have had nearly no swelling. Just a small amount on the first day after the sitting and by today it's all gone whereas before I'd be solidly in cankle territory right now and having difficulty on standing and with walking. It would seem that the bandage is wicking away all the serum weep that contributes to the scabbing, while the antibiotic ointment promotes healing and keeps the area moist. The bandage helps keep the moisture in and keeps it from getting irritated during normal activities. This morning when I changed the bandage I see that peeling has started but I have absolutely no scabbing at this point despite the worked area being right above my inner ankle bone which is prime territory for massive swelling and scabbing. Having the leg wrapped seems to be acting like a mild compression bandage and I believe it's what has kept it from swelling. It's definitely much more comfortable than having it exposed and having to worry about brushing or bumping it on things or whatever.

In the end your body is going to heal your tattoo whichever method you choose for it. I hear people saying the tattoo needs to "breathe" to heal and not to cover it with anything occlusive (ointment, etc.) and all that but even my Dermatologist says it's myth.

Again, this procedure is working beautifully for me, but might not work for everybody. I just see so many posts about swelling and pain that I thought I'd put it out there since it worked so well for me.

Good luck to all of you!!

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Just an update. At the end of 7 days when the wrap came off I had a beautifully healed tattoo. Over the next 2 or 3 days the rest of the dead skin flaked off and I had not a single scab. Not one. I never had any swelling or pain at all. So this will be the healing method for me from here on out. Just thought I'd post again about how it turned out. :)

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Just an update. At the end of 7 days when the wrap came off I had a beautifully healed tattoo. Over the next 2 or 3 days the rest of the dead skin flaked off and I had not a single scab. Not one. I never had any swelling or pain at all. So this will be the healing method for me from here on out. Just thought I'd post again about how it turned out. :)

that's great that it healed so nicely for you,

that final "week long heal",was that wrapped with plastic wrap? (saran wrap),

I have found a successful heal process for me as well,mine involves,

1)plastic wrap for the first 4 hours,then wash with anti-microbial soap

2)plastic for 4 more hours then wash with anti-microbial soap and apply light cocoa butter,

3)wash with anti-microbial soap and light cocoa butter then plastic wrap for first night ,

4) next morning wash with anti-microbial soap and then apply Saniderm on dry skin for about 4 days,

remove saniderm and it's like you said,healed,maybe the normal itch.

this works for me anywhere on my body that I get tattoos.

also,I have been lucky, I have never had a problem with leg swelling on my leg tattoos

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No, not plastic wrap. I don't ever use that. The first couple of days when it's weeping more I use the large gauze pads with the plastic backing that are kind of like doggie pee pads except for humans. LOL! Not sure exactly what they're called. After that I just use regular gauze pads and I wrap over that with coban self adhesive wrap. I change it twice a day and wash with soap and water between changes. Plastic wrap I think would make me insane, holding in the heat and all that I had to look up Saniderm but it seems like it's the same principal as Tatu Derm. I have heard of people healing the tattoo using it for more than just the first day. I am allergic to Tatu Derm and the adhesive rips my skin off so I can't use products like it. You are VERY lucky you don't get swelling and pain!! OMG I have been through some of the WORST with my calf pieces.

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My artist didn't even wrap or cover my tattoo from the start or recommend it. Is it just because it circled my entire ankle? I'm not sure how it would even work to wrap it.

I'm trying to stay off of it but I'm normally insanely active. I guess I'm glad that I didn't do a small test tattoo as I would have never gotten this. It's not large like many of you have but its in a painful location.

I joined the forum because of this thread.

How long, did it take you to be back up and running (literally)?

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I apparently have been lucky after reading this thread,

I have many tattoos from my knees to my ankles and have always healed fast with no extra swelling or pain on my legs,

the only issue I have had on my legs were my ankle bands,I had bad involuntary legs jerks while getting the tattoos.

with the mild weather we have here in northern cal,shorts and sandals have made it more comfortable to heal as well ,

also the use of saniderm on my tattoos that have no color in them is a real plus too.(I have found that Saniderm does not work good on color tattoos,on B&G it works great !)

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I almost kicked my artist in the face. :(

I apparently have been lucky after reading this thread,

I have many tattoos from my knees to my ankles and have always healed fast with no extra swelling or pain on my legs,

the only issue I have had on my legs were my ankle bands,I had bad involuntary legs jerks while getting the tattoos.

with the mild weather we have here in northern cal,shorts and sandals have made it more comfortable to heal as well ,

also the use of saniderm on my tattoos that have no color in them is a real plus too.(I have found that Saniderm does not work good on color tattoos,on B&G it works great !)

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Also working on my lower legs. How many people actually take a bath after getting work done? I heard this helps a lot. Ive been having a lot a plasma on my lower legs. Will that help?

- - - Updated - - -

Also working on my lower legs. How many people actually take a bath after getting work done? I heard this helps a lot. Ive been having a lot a plasma on my lower legs. Will that help?

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Also working on my lower legs. How many people actually take a bath after getting work done? I heard this helps a lot. Ive been having a lot a plasma on my lower legs. Will that help?

- - - Updated - - -

Also working on my lower legs. How many people actually take a bath after getting work done? I heard this helps a lot. Ive been having a lot a plasma on my lower legs. Will that help?

well,you don't want to submerse the tattoo in water for the first 3 or 4 days,washing it off quickly is good,but don't submerse it.

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ok, thought I've seen it somewhere so people soak the tattoo to get out the plasma.

Also seen something about a hot compress.

what I do is for the first 3 or 4 days(3 times a day),I get in a warm shower and clean my hand with this an antimicrobial soap and then apply the soap to the tattoo and scrub the tattoo with the palm of my hand,that gets rid of the oozing plasma and keeps it clean and works great for my healing.

soap.jpg

and IMO the hot compress would be painful.

try an Anti-inflammatory OTC like ibuprofen or naproxen ,and it would help if you can stay off your feet and elevate your legs.Instead of a hot compress maybe try icing it,that would feel a lot better than heat.

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ok, thought I've seen it somewhere so people soak the tattoo to get out the plasma.

Also seen something about a hot compress.

Negative. Keep it clean and let it heal naturally. Dry is good.

- - - Updated - - -

ok, thought I've seen it somewhere so people soak the tattoo to get out the plasma.

Also seen something about a hot compress.

Negative. Keep it clean and let it heal naturally. Dry is good.

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As mentioned elsewhere on this board, Dr. Bronner's is excellent for cutting through a lot of really slimy plasma, especially for that awful first wash. If you live near a Marshall's/TJ Maxx sometimes you can find it there at a pretty steep discount and then you get to feel pretty slick. I stop using it once the tattoo starts to peel, though, as it's a little drying for my particular skin.

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Hey all, 

in view of getting my calf tattooed within the next month or so (I hope), I was wondering about a thing or two, and thought to post my ???s here intead of starting a new thread.

First, has anyone (apart from Spencer Jackson just above) used any 'derm to heal a full color tattoo in the lower leg area? Any location-specific tips? Leg tattoos do seem to weep like crazy...

And second, not asking for medical advice (my dr didn't seem concerned but he isn't that well informed on tattoos), more "what would you do": I wanted to get the tattoo on my right calf, but I sprained my right ankle pretty badly about a month ago, and proceeded to walk 50ish km on it over the following three days - long story short, it's still a little sore at times & the swelling hasn't gone down completely yet. Will it be asking for trouble to get the tattoo on the same leg so soon? The left leg is also "free" and I am planning to get both tattooed anyway, but I preferred to start with the right one and this will probably be my only leg tattoo for quite some time until I replenish my tattoo fund...

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4 hours ago, Kurgana said:

First, has anyone (apart from Spencer Jackson just above) used any 'derm to heal a full color tattoo in the lower leg area? Any location-specific tips? Leg tattoos do seem to weep like crazy...

Yes, I used derm to heal a full shin piece done in one sitting. Long story short: applied it too soon, went on an 6+ hour motorcycle ride the next day and everything oozed into my shoe. Gnarly. But, still healed fine, just kinda gross. Area around the ankle took a long time to heal fully and settle, but no issues. If I had to do it again I would wait a bit longer than usual to use any derm for a big tattoo on the lower leg.

4 hours ago, Kurgana said:

And second, not asking for medical advice (my dr didn't seem concerned but he isn't that well informed on tattoos), more "what would you do": I wanted to get the tattoo on my right calf, but I sprained my right ankle pretty badly about a month ago, and proceeded to walk 50ish km on it over the following three days - long story short, it's still a little sore at times & the swelling hasn't gone down completely yet. Will it be asking for trouble to get the tattoo on the same leg so soon? The left leg is also "free" and I am planning to get both tattooed anyway, but I preferred to start with the right one and this will probably be my only leg tattoo for quite some time until I replenish my tattoo fund...

I think you'll be fine. If it were me, I'd do it.

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Got my 1st leg piece (and largest so far) at the time I thought wow this is much less painful than I assumed. I am totally in love with it although it's not everyone's cup of tea. I didn't stop oozing for 2 days and now that I have totally destroyed my sheets I'm getting that terrible whooshing my leg feels like it's going to fall off pain every time I stand up, soon as its elevated again it's fine. Until I found this forum I was freaked out, now slightly less so but glad I didn't go for both. Is it as bad for thigh? Sorry if I ask anything silly I only have a few tattoos at the moment so a bit of a noob XD pics are leg at top and arms at the bottom, but I've already planned the next 7 lol

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

Edited by Jo_R

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Thanks! I've been holed up with a broken back so had a few tattoos including leg, and my nose and labret pierced as I thought I'd make the most of laying around, May aswell do it in the tattoo shop

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Thanks :) must admit it's been a week now and I'm scabbed up good lol I always seem to take ages to heal, I'm at the point where I start freaking out because it looks red still (all have been the same but this one being bigger is particularly sore) 

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So I finally had my calf tattoo done yesterday (pic in the latest tattoo lowdown thread). I'm wondering about the swelling which I still don't have at 32 hrs post tattoo - does it usually take some time to show up or have I dodged the bullet? That would be great because we decided to go with my uninjured leg in the end (for aestethic reasons) and since I still have some occasional residual swelling in that ankle, I'd rather not have two massive cankles lol. My skin seemed much less irritated than with my other tattoos, with barely any redness, for some weird reason.

Have to say it was my least painful tattoo yet (the others are on both inner forearms, nape of my neck and a small piece each on upper arm & chest), to the point that I could have slept, but did my best to stay awake since I sometimes experience some fun leg twitching while asleep... I guess it could have been due to the artist's light hand and/or the kind of tattoo machine used (my first tat with a rotary). Also, it seems to be weeping a ton less than my forearm tattoos did, even though they are a bit smaller - so much so that I applied the tegaderm at just 3 hrs from the tattoo and I can still see the tattoo under it very clearly which is very different from the huge black bubble I got with the only other tattoo I 'dermed.

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