Transparent film, usually using Opsite Flexigrid (available at the chemist) or other brands like Second Skin or Dermalize etc, is a great alternative method to healing tattoos by providing a moist healing environment using the body’s own healing fluids while simultaneously preventing pathogens and external contaminants from entering the wound.
How to heal your tattoo with transparent film dressing
The film will be applied in the studio at the completion of the tattoo and can be left on for up to 3 days.
The film is waterproof so you will be able to shower as normal. It will even stay put on the skin even when immersed in water. To avoid the adhesive bond from weakening, excessive exposure to water should be avoided.
In the first 24 hours, there may be a copious build up of wound exudate (fluid) and ink under the film. This is completely normal. If so, remove the bandage and reapply as per below. The new bandage may be worn for a total of 72 hours. Once you remove the film dressing, keep your tattoo clean and start using aftercare cream as needed.
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and then clean and dry the tattoo thoroughly. Wash and dry your hands again.
- Cut the film to the desired length and shape, using multiple pieces overlapped at least 2.5cms if needed. You should account for an extra 3 – 5 centimetres around the tattoo to cover un-tattooed, dry skin.
- “Crack” the wave by bending the piece in half at the stripe.
- Expose the sticky side by peeling off the backing. It may be easier to peel off the narrow strip first to place the film with the exposed adhesive before removing the rest of the backing.
- Smooth the dressing over the tattoo using gentle pressure and a piece of tissue or paper towel to push out any air bubbles. Pull the rest of the backing off as you do this.
- Remove supportive clear backing by peeling from the “wave” and smooth over skin.
- Peel up an edge or corner of the film dressing. If this proves difficult, you can attach medical tape to the corner of the film to help lift it or run the dressing under warm water to weaken the adhesive.
- Slowly pull the film off. Do not pull it straight up away from the skin. Instead, pull the film back and across the skin while holding your skin taut.
You may experience some redness around the tattoo where the dressing was applied to the un-tattooed skin. This is also completely normal and may occur with any type of medical adhesive. If you do develop an adverse reaction on the tattoo, discontinue use immediately.
Upon removal, if any of the adhesive is still sticking to the tattoo, simply wash the area with your fingertips (do not use a washcloth) with some warm water and a non-scented soap.
Ink will shed underneath the dressing obscuring the tattoo. This is completely normal.
You may also notice a ‘clinical’ smell at about three days, this is also normal, a sign of healing and the ink settling in. The bandage should only be left on for a maximum of 72 hours. If you wish to continue you may remove, wash and reapply a new bandage.
Be sure to pat the dressing dry after bathing/exposure to water.
If you experience any heat or pain from your tattoo, please remove the dressing and check in with your tattoo artist or doctor.