I recently took an Eat, Pray and Train trip to Thailand (check out the article under the ‘Blog’ tab). I took it upon myself to get a sleeve tattoo during my visit. It wasn’t spontaneous (thats madness), I had promised myself I would get it ,hook or crook, after the completion of my degree. It came in a time when I needed to remember who I am so it carries a lot of sentimental value.
The design of my sleeve is called “Mandala” and the literal meaning of the word, which is a Sanskrit, is “circle”. Like a circle, the mandala represents wholeness. A circle also denotes balance, perfection and eternity as the distance from its centre to all points on it remains the same, from wherever it is measured.
The purpose of this post is to inform you on how to take care of a sleeve should you decide to get one. The advice will also apply cross all tattoos but the focus, in this regard, is sleeves. Understand that getting a sleeve is a heavy commitment so be sure of what you want. Surf the internet for ideas and inspiration then head over to a reputable tattoo artist and sit with him or her until you put together your masterpiece. I sat with the idea of a sleeve for about 3 years before I acted- I would suggest you do the same.
If you’ve previously gotten a tattoo then you’re familiar with the time it takes to complete a tattoo. If this is going to be your first tattoo then get very comfortable with sitting in one place for an extended period of time. It will also depend on your pain threshold, some people can only sit for 2 hours before it becomes unbearable, others can sit for 7 hours and not break a sweat. Once you’re all sleeved up and ready to rock, here are a few tips on how to take care of your sleeve whilst its healing thereafter:
Don’t panic, swelling is completely normal. Whether you do over 2 sessions like yours truly or 16 sessions, your arm will swell up due to the trauma cause by the needle. Let the swelling subside naturally, do not ice your arm or take anti-flammatories, the swelling will go down in a couple of days.
From the time of completion you are going to have to put gym on pause for about 2 weeks while the tattoo scabs and peels. Because it scabs before peeling it restricts movement so sit tight Ronnie Coleman, you’ll be back in the gym soon.
Whether it is an arm or leg sleeve, it is impossible to shower and not get it wet. Fear not, the sleeve can take on water but do not submerge it in water (baths, pools, sea etc.) until it has fully healed. After showering, pat dry the tattoo. This is important because if you dry the tattoo like it is any other part of the body, you are to going to pull on the scabs from the force. Handle with care.
Whilst it is healing, use Bepanthen Protective Baby Ointment twice a day (mornings and evenings). It is available at Clicks or Dis-Chem for R65 and R80 for 30g’s respectively.
Last but by no means least, stay out of the sun! Tattoos in general don’t do well in the sun, especially during the healing phase. If you’re going to be outdoors, cover up the entire tattoo. Once the tattoo has fully healed, apply sunscreen daily to protect it from the sun and as a bonus, the sunscreen gives the tattoo
Photo credit: www.cyrilzuma.co.za
Read the Thailand article here >