Illustrated Teacup

Family | Lifestyle | Food | Tattoos | Southampton

Monday, 24 February 2014

TATTOOS: Tips on swollen legs and feet after a tattoo

As you may know I recently got a large lower leg tattoo. Unsurprisingly it swelled a touch the day after. Then it swelled a but more and spread into my foot. Needless to say, I was a little disconcerted, so I of course 'googled' it. This is where I hit a wall. There is loads of information on how to reduce swelling in your feet and ankles if you are pregnant.  Or if you have a sprained ankle. But not a lot specific to tattoos to placate my nervous mind, until I found this forum

So I thought I would post my findings, so I can share some knowledge on how to deal with swelling in the feet and ankles after a lower leg tattoo. 

This might not happen to you at all. I have a small tattoo on my ankle from my 18th birthday. (Yes I got inked on my birthday and the studio sang to me too!) And from memory, it didn't swell much at all and I do not remember being in any particular discomfort during the healing. However, it was relatively small.  Especially compared to my newest piece, which covers 90% of my outer calf. 



Anyway, should you find, like me, that you are a little swollen and in discomfort, you should find the following helpful. 

  • It is perfectly normal to experience swelling. It is the bodies defence against the trauma you've just put it through.  
  • Like a pregnant lady, you should keep off your feet as much as possible and elevate the foot/leg in question.  The swelling is caused by water going where gravity tells it to go, so if your foot is nice and raised,  the water shouldn't settle there as much. 
  • An elevated foot whilst you sleep is also recommended, especially if you want to be able to get up the next morning with some feeling in your lower leg. 
  • Ice your foot, as you would if you sprained it. A good 15-20 minutes should help alleviate some of the pressure.
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing around your new tattoo, as this will only exasperate the swelling and make it collect more. Tight socks are a definitely no go, especially if you are dealing with a new foot tattoo. 
  • Keep it clean. The lessens the chance of infection, which will make the swelling a whole lot worse. 
  • Take some over the counter anti-inflammatory's. Something like ibuprofen should help, plus any pain whilst walking will also be combated. 
  • Plus drink plenty of water to help with circulation. 
  • And although this may sound a little contradictory,  but having a little walk around will also help. This will keep your blood circulating properly and relieve the pressure.  Just remember to elevate afterwards.

Remember you are looking after a wound, a beautifully crafted wound. It needs to be looked after. Tattoos take around twp weeks to heal on the surface, but up to three months to fully heal under the surface, so take care.

And if you are reading this prior to having your tattoo, it is worth considering only having one leg/foot done at a time. You are going to need the other leg to compensate, especially when you get up from sitting or laying down. You know that rush of blood feeling you get when you've cut the circulation to one of your feet by sitting on it too long? You get the same feeling with a swollen leg tattoo. Do you want that in both legs? I thought not.

Everything above is perfectly normal. Swelling and pressure is a likely outcome from a large tattoo, and isn't something to worry about. Do the above and you will be fine in no time. 
You should only worry if the swelling doesn't go down after a week, or of the skin around your tattoo starts going red. This could be a sign of infection, and if you are worried, please see your doctor (I am not medically trained in anyway, which is why I am saying could and should, rather than will - if you have questions, go back to your tattoo artist or see your GP, especially if your symptoms persist for over a week or you are in a lot of pain even whilst resting.)

Don't get me wrong, I love my calf tattoo. And despite the discomfort and the 'cankles', I would do it all again on the other leg. I will just be starting my anti-swelling techniques a little sooner next time.

What are your tips to stop swelling after a leg or foot tattoo?
Have you experienced the same thing?


Read about popping your tattoo cherry here, how I prepare for a tattoo session here and tips for healing tattoos with Palmers Cocoa Butter here for beautiful colour-popping healing. 
Share:

160 comments

  1. I can't thank you enough for this post. I have several very small tattoos and on Thursday got one that covers the back of my right calf. I woke up this morning to my right foot and ankle being the size of a basketball. I knew it was because of my tattoo, I kept saying it over and over in my head but it still freaked me out. My tattoo shop is closed on Mondays so I asked a good friend and she told me her foot & ankle did the same thing and it's normal. I have a desk job so I can't elevate it as much as I'd like - or as much as it needs to be - but I'm doing what I can. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for this post - it's lets me know I'm really not (that) crazy and this is a normal process. My tattoo guy better thank his lucky stars I don't have his cell number or he'd've been inundated with calls this morning. *cheers* ~ Jen #Maine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh bless you.
      I'm glad I could help, and I hope it heals/healed perfectly in the end for you! x

      Delete
    2. I too am so glad I found this post.I had a calf tattoo and my ankle and foot is swollen.I was really worried but this has put my mind at rest xxx

      Delete
    3. Thank you for this post.
      I am so paranoid that my newest foot tattoo is really swelling, this is my second day of aching like I cant walk nor run.
      My work is 8hrs in sitting bcos of paper works. Can I take some medicine for swelling? Do u want guys to see it??

      Delete
    4. I just got my leg done n my feet is starting to swell I was about to run to the ER...I'm glad I read this very helpful thank you so much. .by the way really nice tattoo..

      Delete
    5. I agree, this totally summed it up. I know this stuff I'm a nurse, but none the less have been a little freakish cause I have other tattoos in other places. They didn't look and feel like this. I also think mine is bruised. I bruise easily on the left leg and have been telling myself this, my tattoo is outlined with a hickey looking ring. At first though it looked like redness, today it looks like bruising. Tattooed 8 days now. Other than waking up it didn't really hurt, it felt like a burn. But wasn't tender to touch or draining. Your post helped put my mind at ease as well!! ��

      Delete
    6. Thank you so much! This info was so helpful!

      Delete
    7. I don't ever reply to post. But man. This was helpful. I just got a leg sleeve done. Woke up and my leg was swollen and could barely walk. In site is not an infection. So thanks for your post. It's was helpful knowing that this is normal

      Delete
    8. 2day of full calf tattoo and calf to toes are blown up. Thought it was from my blood thinners but your comment has taken my fear away. I'm gonna relax and keep going with my aftercare.

      Delete
    9. Definitely keep up with the aftercare!! Glad you both found my post helpful!! Just keep it clean and moisturised and you should be fine!!

      Delete
    10. Thank you so much for your advise,i too am on blood thinners and was getting a lil scared with the oozing and such!!!

      Delete
    11. Thank you so much for your advise,i too am on blood thinners and was getting a lil scared with the oozing and such!!!

      Delete
    12. I finished my leg piece this past Sunday and this time the swelling was more then the last but as you said normal. Cant say I will ever get the back of my calf ever done again though! WOW!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for this :) I had immense (and expected) swelling when I had my foot tattooed, but I just had a tattoo on my lower leg and was not expecting my foot to swell! It makes sense I guess - thanks for the reassurance :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very welcome - glad to be able to help

      Delete
    2. Very swollen ankle from a 3hr session for my foot tattoo...and although my guy said this would happen, I didnt think it really would this much...so he wasnt kidding. Im so glad to have found this forum though,so thankyou Rachel.Elevation, rest and meds..most importantly keeping it clean. Only day 2 now but already cant wait for more work.

      Delete
  3. Whew! Thanks for your post! I had a 90% outer calf tattoo done 2 days ago, and today in the shower I noticed my ankle was 2x the size. I took a picture and that's when I noticed my whole lower leg was actually swollen. I panicked at first, so thank you for taking the time to write this. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know it's a real shock to begin with, but does settle quickly thankfully!

      Delete
    2. I had foot tattoo last fri at 3pm it has been very swollen I'm a nurse on feet a lot n have to wear socks...thanks for this post it helped lots

      Delete
  4. I had a lower ankle/calf tattoo done 1 week ago and it is still swollen, but does seem to be getting better. I had one done on the other leg that was even bigger a few years back and as I recall it swelled quite a bit as well and did take more than a week to subside. Like you said it is alot of trauma to the lower leg. I do feel a little better after reading your post , knowing that this is pretty normal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it's pretty normal. And we have to remember that pressure will go to the lowest point of the body i.e. the foot, so they tend to swell much more than any other part.
      Glad I could reassure you.

      Delete
  5. I just got a tribal piece done about a week ago and it's a couple inches above my ankle. I was worried about the swelling but you post has helped with the fear that there was something really wrong with it. However there is still alot of red around it and the tattoo itself is only black and blue ink. If you have any hints on how to help this it would be great. Ive looked around but there isn't much help considering it's not acting like an infection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The red is just the pigment of your skin as it is reacting to the inks and the trauma from the needles. Keep it cool and clean. No tight clothing in the area.
      Some people just have a higher pigment in their skin tone so look redder for longer. Just keep an eye on it, and if it doesn't dissappear or go down in a week, visit your doctor.

      Hope that helps a little. x

      Delete
  6. I wish I had all these tips when I got mine on my thigh. I never had any issues with it but the swelling made skinny jeans a struggle for a good few days haha.

    Ax
    www.alicerosieallsop.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha I bet. Tight fitting clothes are pretty much a no-no when it comes to fresh tattoos. Just not worth cutting the circulation and risking the tattooed skin becoming damaged.

      xx

      Delete
  7. For the past 3 days I've worked on my full sleeve calve tattoo. There was no swelling until yesterday when i took my shoe of. I panicked because the feet where i have my tattoo had swollen so huge (The tattoo was perfectly fine). My ankle is also swell. I thought leaving my feet overnight to rest would reduce the swelling but it did not. Would the swelling go away?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might just need some extra time. Keep it elevated as much as possible and wear loose clothing around the area.
      Mine took a good few days to go down and feel comfortable again, so give it a little time. If you're still worried after a few days visit your Doctor. Also Ibuprofen may help reduce the swelling and help with any pain too. Just don't take too much!

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much. I feel much more comfortable knowing that it's nothing that serious to worry about. The swelling has in fact reduce, my ankle's still a bit swollen but reading the blog really helped me alot. Thank you so much again :)

      Delete
    3. I'm so glad I could help! And I'm very glad the swelling is starting to go down! :)
      xx

      Delete
  8. Thank you! This really helped me. I have had several tattoos, but don't remember any swelling, although my new tattoo is quite large - I thought I might be getting an infection, but it is only my ankle and foot that are swelling and not the tattoo, so I wasn't sure until I read your article. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome - I'm glad I could help!
      Just keep an eye on the swelling, and any redness - this should dissappear after a couple of days. If it starts swelling more, or getting redder, please do see your GP for a second opinion, just in case!

      Thanks for commenting xx

      Delete
  9. I just got a tattoo done yesterday, on my right calf, and it is VERY sore, and swollen, I have redness around it. Probably doesn't help the fact I was on my feet 10 hours today working, and will have to go into work tomorrow as well (hoping it'll go down a little by tomorrow :/) but if I stand still and I'm not walking around, it'll feel like a Charlie horse in that one spot, and tighten up really bad...of course I had to look on internet and see stuff, and get all worried and freak out, HOPING its not infected. My anxiety has been up, earlier I was running a low grade fever on and off, which I've also heard with some, that is normal. Took her 3 1/2 hours on this tattoo...so, like I said, hoping its just a little irritation and muscle soreness from tensing up etc. And it'll be gone soon. 🙇🙇🙇

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No standing on your feet for that long won't have helped with the swelling and pain. Try to have it elevated when you don't have to be stood up and some ibuprofen should help ease the pain and swelling when you do have.
      Try not to worry about it too much and follow your tattooists guidelines. Keep it clean and moisturised. If the redness and swelling gets worse instead of clearing, see your GP for a second opinion. Always better to be safe than sorry. xx

      Delete
  10. Yeah I got some aquaphor and bacitraycin, just been trying to put that on there as often as I can, this morning it is still rather sore, not looking forward to going into work today! But I'm gonna try to take it as easy as possible. Thank you for replying :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh bless you! I hope it is much better now! xx

      Delete
  11. I am so happy I read this entire thread; extremely helpful! Makes me feel a lot better about my ankle tattoo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad I could help you! Just try to stick to the advice above but if the pain or swelling gets worse, rather than better please please see a doctor, just to be safe!

      xx

      Delete
  12. Thank you SO much for this. I definitely did not expect my foot to swell after getting my calf tattooed but this makes me feel a lot better. It's not awfully swollen just enough to make me worry. Elevating and icing for sure! Thank ya doll

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad I could help. Hopefully it doesn't get worse, but precautions are always good!
      xx

      Delete
  13. Thank you so much for posting this!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just had my lower left ankle done and its fairly large, it is a cover-up and I'm glad I read this I was getting worried. I'm 57 y.o. I know, tats at my age. Well the previous one was awful, had to get rid of it..anyway thanks for the advice, I'm now more at ease..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha love that you're still getting tattoos - never too old!
      Glad I could help! x

      Delete
    2. Ha I'm a 55 yr old lady my tattoo is a cover up...
      It's day 5 for me n swelling reducing slowly. Ibruprofen helps.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for this post Rachel I recently got a new tattoo on my calf and yeah my foot is swollen I was starting to freak out until I read your post. I will now start to use your tips hopefully swelling will be gone soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless you. Don't worry at all. I'm sure it will be fine.

      Delete
  16. I have a question: what should I do if I have a 11 hour plane ride? I can't have it elevated when I want to. Im just really worried that something bad might happen to it because it's that long of a plane ride. Need advice! Just ibuprofen maybe?

    Ps. The tattoo is my whole lower leg. It's a tribal piece. I just got it on Wednesday. Just FYI

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apologies for the late reply.
      Flying shouldn't be a problem, though should for obvious reasons be avoided if possible. Ibuprofen will help and rest as much as possible once off the plane and at your destination. Ice will help if it swells up so to ease it when you land.

      Delete
  17. I got my calf tat Monday & noticed yesterday my ankle & my foot was swollen, I was about to freak out since today it is the same. Glad I came upon this!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thankyou very much. Very informative

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have a quick question. I got my tattoo last night. It's pretty swollen and it's my second tattoo. It's hot to the touch and it's draining. I just want to know if that's normal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really depends how long ago you had the tattoo. Hot to the touch for about 24 hours after is pretty normal, and draining again sounds fairly normal if there is a lot of dense colouring/shading. If you're concerned, op back to your tattooists and ask their opinion, or if that isn't possible ask to see you GP. If it starts going red round the edges it may be infected. Keep it moisturised with a non-alcoholic moisturisers and protect with clingfilm if you're out and about.
      Hope this helps
      Rach

      Delete
  20. Thanks for this article it's been a great help!!! Having had my first tattoo on my calf 4 days ago this has helped loads. How long did it take for your ankles to go down? I work at a school so on my feet for most of the day which I'm sure is not helping the swelling! Thanks again :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks dude... This helped!

    My skin is so tight where my tattoo is from swelling and I now have a big kankle.. It's very sore..

    I have a full time non stop industrial day job working on my feet 8-5... I had slept with Saranwrap but tonight I couldn't stand it so hopefully I stay on my front all night.

    Needless to say elevation and rest are not happening :/

    ReplyDelete
  22. It's funny because I just got a tattoo on the back of my ankle about a inch above the base. I have two others that are on the side and front of the same ankle and never remembered it sweeping or hurting as much as this one. I am fairly close to my tattoo artist so when I saw the swelling and redness, as well as some leaking the following days I called him. Sent multiple pictures at different angles so he could see the tattoo and my concerns. He said it looked great and was actually healing better and faster than he would have expected. He told me one thing about where my tattoo and generally any tattoo on the back of the leg/ankle is that they are on a muscle and tendon that are constantly being pulled and stretched so when we walk or stand we are destroying what the body has done to heal, which prolongs the process. If the tattoo is pussy or swollen directly on itself or if you have a fever for days consecutive go see a doctor. He also suggested for me to let it dry heal for a day or two until the leaky plasma subsided. It helped a lot even though it is a bit more uncomfortable while you do that, it allowed my tattoo to really start healing faster. The aquaphor or lubridrem was keeping it to soft for what I was doing and causing it to continue to seep the plasma. If any of you are having that problem, this might help.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for the post, really helped settle my nerves.
    I've had a decent size tattoo done on my right low leg under the calf and its my first tatt. Its not really painful and its not even swollen much its just more that when I try to walk on it the leg doesn't want to take the weight and will sometimes be painful but now reading this it kinda makes sense that the circulation has been affected a bit plus I'm sure it doesn't help that my leg is quite muscular. Haha

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this. I've just had my first ever tattoo 4 days ago, and it covers most of my foot. It's swollen and I can't really walk on it, but it is getting better. I turned to google for a bit of reassurance and found this post. As my tattoo is of an illustrated storm in a teacup, your name stood out! Thank you for your reassurances! Your calf tattoo is gorgeous btw. :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Because of some foot problems, we face knee aches or disease related to our knees.A foot massage machine helps to get relief from these foot disease,foot aches as well as knee problems. foot massager reviews

    ReplyDelete
  26. Got a tattoo on my lower leg. Inside of my ankle on Saturday ( it's Tuesday). It's very swollen at the bottom and into my foot and red. Given I have been on my feet all day. The tattoo itself isn't red. But feels right and has started to ache. You think probably just healing / because I've been on my feet all day?
    Just scared its infected..reading all your stuff above I don't Think it is. What do you think.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for the information in detail. I had one tattoo on both legs from just below knee to just above ankle last week one Tuesday and Wednesday. One is wider and took one and half hours longer. I had the feet swelling, but is better today (Sunday. The tip about elevating the feet at night is excellent. I have 39 other tattoos on arms, chest and back so the healing here is different.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh thank goodness for this post. Yesterday I got 90% of my calf done and it is pretty damn sore today and red. Not super swollen, but a little bit. My husband was concerned about the redness, but I was thinking to myself that I did just get jabbed hundreds of thousands of times within two hours, my skin is probably not very happy. This post definitely helped ease any concern!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Rachel,
    I'm really relieved to have found this thread!

    I had my foot tattooed last Tuesday and I'm still really swollen and still struggling to walk! I also can't seem to get the right balance when moisturising and either under do it so it cracks and bleeds, or over do it and it goes all tacky and runs.

    This is my second foot tattoo, but I seem to have blanked the healing process of my left foot out of my mind completely! I just can't stop worrying about it. Being a teacher, today has been my first full day on it and the swelling has got worse with more reddening.

    Anyway! I found your post reassuring. There is so much conflicting information out there xx

    ReplyDelete
  30. This was wonderful and helped me a lot . got a huge tatt on right back calf the whole thing almost lol and then 2 days later got another one a little smaller right next to it. Working on leg sleeve (black plague theme) and swelling was pretty bad after walking 8 miles at work :(. This helped me calm down and feel better. Whoee 6 months of this is going to be hard with work lol.
    How do you post pics I'd love to show the black and gray tatt if I cld

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you so much for easing my discomfort. Like you I have gotten an out leg tattoo that takes up 90%. When I got the outline done I had no problems but as soon as I gotten the color weeks later (3 days ago) I got very conserved from the amount of swelling. Today after a small dance party with my little ones I sat to rest and realized my ankle looked as swollen as it did when I was pregnant. I thought I may of injured it during dancing and did not realize. Hours later with no pain from my ankle I got concerned that maybe my tattoo was infected but it looks fine and healing well even if it's been 3 days. I Google and like you all I got was pregnancy advice till I saw your post. I will try your tips and hope it will come down soon. It is dress weather finally and don't need to sport cankles.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I got a tattoo on Wednesday that covers the entire side of my calf, and last night before bed I had a huge panic attack because my foot was literally twice the size of my other one, I could barely even feel my toes :( I was scared it was some freakish infection so I'm really relieved other people have the same issue. My skin is still red around it but no heat is coming off and it's not weeping at all. Just sensitive I suppose. So glad I'm not alone! But I wish someone would've warned me before hand lol

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thank you for reassuring me as SaVing me a trip to the ER, I had a pair of ankle socks on with a pair of wedge gym shoes, and I noticed my left ankle had a indent like a rubber band around my ankle and immediately took my sock off! At first I panicked, then s a t down and elevated my foot. It's still swollen however, it doesn't look like a baseball anymore. This is Mt first calf tattoe, and after reading these post, I can rest, no worries! Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for reassuring me as SaVing me a trip to the ER, I had a pair of ankle socks on with a pair of wedge gym shoes, and I noticed my left ankle had a indent like a rubber band around my ankle and immediately took my sock off! At first I panicked, then s a t down and elevated my foot. It's still swollen however, it doesn't look like a baseball anymore. This is Mt first calf tattoe, and after reading these post, I can rest, no worries! Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you for easing my mind, I just got a sizable piece done on my left lower calf and the swelling was freaking me out, normally the Internet is all gloom and doom you are dying, this however made me comfortable knowing, thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Great post and great info. I had gotten 2 tattoos on my lower right leg, front and back, fairly large. Next day I noticed it hurting, mainly the back one. But on account of the size and amount of ink, I had a feeling it would. On the upside, it forces me to keep it elevated LOL

    ReplyDelete
  37. I, like so many others, was a little worried about the swelling around my ankle after having a large tattoo done on my lower right leg, so you have definitely put my mind at ease. The pain I felt on day 1 can only be described as feeling like I'd broken my leg, and being on my feet for 10 hours a day was excruciating. But after 3 days, it'd just swollen and itchy!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you so much for this post! I just got a little shell done next to my ankle (the super thin part) and woke up with it all swollen. Kept my foot up for about an hour now and it already helped :) it's still bruised, red and swollen but so much less! I have to work for 4 hours tomorrow and sit in a train for 2. I'm a hairdresser so I'll have to stand but I'll make sure whenever I can to lift it ^^

    ReplyDelete
  39. I've just had foot tattoed it's really swollen and I'm in agony . Can't walk on it having to literally hop around ? Any advice on what to do so I can do usual day to day activites? Tried ibuprofen ice and cocodamol and i have school runs etc to do ..? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  40. Omg thank you! I had a foot tattoo done two days ago and this was the first time I've ever experienced such redness and swelling afterwards! (This is my 7th tattoo). With all my other ones, the redness usually goes away within a few hours because I usually heal really fast and I've never had swelling before. Now I'm on day three and the redness has gone down but the swelling is still there and i was I getting worried. I'm glad I found this so now I can put my mind at ease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm exactly the same. Swollen for a few hours and then it settles.

      I'm glad my post helped you.

      Delete
  41. I am on day 4 of a large calf piece including ankle

    Holy Hell - my foot is totally swollen and my calf is tender to the touch - the muscle is so very sore.

    The tattoo dripped plasma for almost 2 days. It was gross! Now the tattoo looks nice and clean, healing well - but the swelling and pain in my leg sucks. I am still using bacitracin after washing to ward off infections.

    I would do it again as I love my artwork - but ice, elevation and rest are not helping deflate the swelling or reduce the hurt.

    Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try some painkillers to reduce the pain. Unfortunately with swelling it all takes a little bit of time to reduce, and of course just make sure the tattoo is clean and healing. The sooner it heals, the sooner the swelling and pain will go away.

      I hope it gets better soon.

      Delete
  42. Thanx a lot. My left ankle was bit swollen 72 hours after my tattoo on my inner left calf. I have all kinds of antibiotics and was going to start on them. No real pain, a little redness and tenderness. But if was on my feet all day and flew a few hours. So I guess I will elevate my foot and pop an ibuprofen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I would say just elevate, rest and get some ibuprofen. You probably don't have an infection so I wouldn't bother with antibiotics unless it gets really painful and red or starts to ooze.

      Delete
  43. Thank you for your post. I recently got both legs (ankle area) inked and experiencing some swollen ankles. Got a little nervous, but my mind is at ease. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to help! And I'm so impressed you got both done at the same time!! x

      Delete
  44. Phew I had a large foot/ calf tattoo 2 days ago and initially I had a little swelling but I walked about a mile and my foot has ballooned i was starting to panic a little but thought I'll Google before i go running to the ER, so glad I came across your post it's reassured me and I feel a lot less worried , foot elevated as I type , thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to help. Lots of rest, elevated and some ice or a cool pack! xx

      Delete
    2. I got a tattoo on saturday, the outline took 3 hours, then went back on sunday and finished now its tuesday and its swollen and hard to walk. Like i feel like it is tighting and i eork everyday for 5 hours??? Is this normal this is my second tattoo

      Delete
    3. Hi Ryan,

      Sounds perfectly normal to me. It's most likely the dense shading creating the tight feeling as the tattoo turns into a scab as part of the healing process. Make sure it is moisturised regularly which will help ease the tight feeling and rest as and when you can. If the feeling doesn't start to go in the next couple of days, visit your GP just to double check it is healing ok and you're not reacting to the ink.

      Delete
  45. 5 days out on my 2 1/2 hour calf tattoo, was getting worried. thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  46. I just had a large tattoo done on my outer thigh. It's day 4 after I got it done and my knee and lower leg has begun to swell a great deal. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I had my 53rd tattoo!!! On Saturday all down the front of my shin (knee to ankle) my ankle looks like it belongs to an elephant lol and yes i panicked until seeing this...thank u!!!! Cant rest with my job but hopefully in a few days the swelling will go down 😆

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow 53rd!! Hopefully the swelling will go down quickly!!

      Delete
    2. Omg man my leg ended up blowing up at work today lol my job is at a warehouse where I'm standing and walking 8-12 hours a day. I'm hoping it's from my work clothes rubbing up against it and I don't have to get it amputated. Scary thought

      Delete
  48. Oh wow.. thank you so much for this post. I did a calf tattoo yesterday and my ankle is badly swollen. Been going crazy trying to figure out why it got so big and heavy. I can put my fears to rest now.. glad that so many people experienced it and shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing how many people it affects! Happy to help!

      Delete
  49. Thank you so much for sharing. Can finally put my fears to rest. My ankle is heavily swollen after a calf tattoo from yesterday!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Oh wow.. thank you so much for this post. I did a calf tattoo yesterday and my ankle is badly swollen. Been going crazy trying to figure out why it got so big and heavy. I can put my fears to rest now.. glad that so many people experienced it and shared.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thank you for reassuring me. I just finished a cover up that covers 90% of the back of my thigh, extending from the underside of my butt cheek to the back of my knee on 8/3. Holy cow... the first part swelled and bruised... but this second half, with all the shading.... Jesus, Mary and Joseph! It hella hurts. The swelling has eased so I can at least bend my knee, but still.. Aquaphor and Tylonal help.. as does standing in front of a fan!

    I guess what I'm getting at is that you've reassured me that this will pass if I'm just patient and careful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes patience is certainly key! We have to remind ourselves that we've but our body through trauma with a tattoo so it'll take some time.

      Delete
  52. this was so helpful! I got my tat 12 A.M. Monday and 13 hrs later i was doing a double. That went on for the rest of the week. My legs are really small, so i almost panicked when i noticed the swelling going up instead of down. So I plan on elevating all weekend. Thanks for the advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome.Just keep an eye on it, if it doesn't start to go down after a few days then see a doctor.

      Delete
  53. Ty I was getting concerned thinking I needed to go to er for antibiotics. It's only been a day but my last tattoo on my ankle didn't swell. This was a cover-up n i have lots more tattoos ova my body but first time anything swelled

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first ankle tattoo didn't swell either, but my whole calf did. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it's up and rested as much as possible.

      Delete
  54. Yes! That's exactly what it feels like. Thank you for this.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I was wondering if it's normal if I got this tattoo on my cav last Sunday and right under tattoo my leg started to swell up really bad. It's such terrible pain! I will say getting MM on my leg was worth it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's just swelling and pain from the swelling then it sounds fairly normal. If your skin has gone red, is hot or is painful outside of the swelling area then I'd see a doctor as it could be an infection. Better safe than sorry!

      Delete
  56. I'm glad I came across this post. I got a piece on my left inner calf that actually takes up 70% of my lower leg. It's an 8hr piece that the artist did in 4hrs. Needless to say there is a massive amount of pain and swelling. I haven't been able to elevate it 'cause I've been watching 4 kids. Today is 1 week exactly since I got it. It is still super swollen, painful when try to walk, and tender. I elevate it and ice it when i can, and take anti inflammatory meds. I hope being able to keep it elevated for the weekend helps cause i am back to watching kids next week. Thanks for the post. It put me at ease a bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome - thank you for your comment x

      Delete
  57. Yes thank you! Large lower leg piece done 2 nights ago, was just feeling better this afternoon and boom swelled up like a balloon tonight. Ankle and large lump on my shin not near where the tattoo is. I don't usually panic, but it was a little alarming. Advil, ice and elevated now. Just kind of tight and throbbing not really painful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome - thank you for your comment x

      Delete
  58. All day we are very busy with many thing. When we come home we `understand how much we are tried. Our foot feel so much pain most of the time. That time quality best foot massager is the best solution for relaxation.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thank you very much for this. I had tattood my lower legs three times already and didn't swell. This time on my left shin I did and I was beginning to freak out a little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad my post helped you. Hopefully it goes down soon!! xx

      Delete
  60. Day 8 since my new foot tattoo. It covers most of the top of my foot. The tattoo itself looks great, peeling and maybe a tiny bit of scabbing. But the swelling won't stop! At times I feel I've gotten past it and then next thing I know it's swollen again!

    Elevating and icing and taking ibuprofen when it happens but concerned that it's still happening this far along. Some redness along the outside edge but not hot to the touch. Sore to the touch still just below my toes and outside edge of foot.

    Should I be concerned that my foot is still swelling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally I would pop along to your GP so they can take a look as after 8 days it shouldn't really be painful or red, but I'm not a medical professional, just going off experience from others and myself. At the end of the day it's your body, but if you're concerned then so a doctor - better safe than sorry. xx

      Delete
  61. Saw my GP today. No infection present but he believes I am having a reaction to the ink. He prescribed an antibiotic as a precaution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it's not an infection - I did think maybe a reaction to the ink. It's not that uncommon.

      Delete
  62. Thanks a lot. I had my first tattoo done 2 days ago, a big colorful side calf piece, and yesterday, I noticed that my ankle and foot were pretty swollen. I was beginning to worry, but after reading your blog and the rest of the comments, I realized there are worse cases than mine. After all it's not that bad for a 7 hour tattoo. It would be nice to have some days off work though.Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Glad to find a couple sites on this topic. I've been getting a sleeve from knee to ankle on left leg. So far I've had a 9 hr session (crazy) to do back of leg/calf, a 3 hr one to finish back of calf, a 5 hour one on shin a month ago, and then few days ago and 5 hour one to finish shin and start ankle. All that's left is some shading on ankle and one strip of skin on outer leg. It's been a trip. I've had work on arms and back before but lower leg tattoos seem very different. During tattoos the back of knee, the edge of shin bone, and the ankle (front and side foot bone) were the most sensitive spots. Afterwards I've experienced a range of different things from sessions including pretty bad pain, difficulty walking, swelling, etc. Last night after a 12 hrs shift my ankle was so pudgy I had never seen anything like it on my body, right up to my little sock and shoe. I find that elevating it helps a ton and do it as much as I can esp when sleeping and when otherwise not working. As someone said it's gravity pulling fluid down to trauma in that area. It's kinda scary but sounds normal. I showed someone last night and he said, dude go to hospital. Then I slept with it on pillows and this morning It's gone way down. I think my sock was too tight too esp bc I had to fold it down so as not to cover it. It's a strange feeling when you stand on a swollen leg like pressure, definitely painful spot to tattoo and perhaps moreso to heal over first week anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thank god for this site!!
    Had my ankle tattoo Saturday. Today is worse than yesterday.
    Mine goes all round my ankle, so yeah my lower leg is all twice the size and the skins taut. I have dogs to walk but I shall rest in between. Thankyou

    ReplyDelete
  65. THANK YOU!!! my artist told me that i would swell a little bit but never would i have thought this much lol i has had a cover up down that goes from ankle bone almost to my knee.. needless to say my foot is fat and my ankle is no where to be found hehehe... bt i asked him and he said all is normal and healing well.. we are on day 3 :) soo figers crossed that i will find my ankle and fit into my shoes again

    ReplyDelete
  66. Relieve from stress and many kind of pain massage is a good system. For foot massage best foot massager brand is the best. My family use it from many years. It's work very softly.

    ReplyDelete
  67. It's strangely comforting to see so many people wondering the same thing! My previous sedentary lifestyle must have really helped with the sleeve on my right leg as I didn't have any swelling issues at all(other than the irritation from red ink, which I'm sensitive/allergic to but still use!) but I stand up so much more now/I'm more active that my left leg balloons up with the work done so far!

    Thank you for the article and for the debate and sharing that it allowed!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thanks for this post. I tattooed my outer calf and i was worried. When my legs are up i don't feel anything but as soon as i stand up i'm in so much pain. Surprisingly if i start walking the pain goes away but if i stop it starts hurting like hell again. It's as you said. U feel a lot of pressure in your leg. I'll try to ice it and take some anti inflammatory

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah definitely sounds like all the pressure! It will get better though! And it's so worth it!! ;)

      Delete
  69. whew ! so glad I googled now ! 5 days ago I had a very large tattoo which goes completely around my ankle and onto my foot (it`s the start of a full leg piece). all was fine until about 36 hours after tattooing, when my ankle and foot swelled up quite alarmingly - I couldn`t bend my toes ! I knew it was related to my tattoo so wasn`t too worried..but it`s still the same a few days later so I was starting to wonder if this was normal. The tattooed area is still very sore, and red around the edge - not surprisingly - but it doesn`t feel at all hot so I doubt there`s infection there. Guess I`ll just have to be patient ! Thanks for the helpful post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep an eye on the redness, as it should have gone by now. It might be a reaction to the ink. Make sure you're following all the normal guidelines for tattoo aftercare, and if you're still worried, or it gets worse, please see your GP.

      Delete
  70. How do I stop the constant cramping??? I can hardly walk it's been 5 days???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, I've never experienced cramping with a tattoo before!! Make sure you're relaxing it as much as possible as the cramping is from the muscle. Personally I think I'd see my GP if it is still going after 6 days as that doesn't seem normal to me. Sorry I can't be of more help. Do let me know how it goes though!

      Delete
  71. This was very helpful. I knew there would be swelling with my foot tattoo, but I never thought to elevate or ice my foot.Great tips!

    ReplyDelete
  72. Hi, I have some extensive full sleeve tattoos but got my first calf line work and it swelled up like a muh. Im a dog walker and on my feet all day. First mistake, wearing an athletic sock. Though it breathes it was simply too tight and abrasive. But, I cant not cover it because my jeans would rub it raw. I have to cover it with surgical gauze and breathable surgical tape and wear an anklet. It freaked my out a bit as all my work is above waste and had minimal redness swelling. Any tips? And you look like you have a nice family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try and keep it uncovered and raised when you're not our walking the dogs, and cool it down after each walk with frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel which should help alleviate the pressure from the walking. Maybe pop an anti inflammatory ahead of a particularly long walk, and just take it easy where you can! Good luck!
      And thank you so much xx

      Delete
  73. I got a shin/calf tattoo took 5 hours with alot of detail. I'm so worried my ankle and calf is double the size of my other one. I work and stand on my feet 8 to 10 hours a day. It's killing me it hurts so bad this is number 30 and number 11 by the same artists as this one. I have been elevated it and applying ice when I'm home. This morning I woke up to red dots all over it and it's still swollen and has heat in it.

    ReplyDelete
  74. This is so helpful for people that would worry! All my tats are below my knees and they've all made my entire legs and feet swell up like I'm 9 months pregnant. I took loads of ibruprofen and just chilled with my leg in the air all day! x

    ReplyDelete
  75. Very helpful! Just got one covering my foot and it's very swollen

    ReplyDelete
  76. I was writing my last will & testament as I was sure I was going to die!
    Whew! I had a cover up that was 5 hours a week ago. I have 2 other tattoos but never experienced fever, swelling, & soreness like this...I, to THANK YOU for helping me to breathe a sigh of relief!

    ReplyDelete
  77. Just over a week ago I got the whole of my lower leg tattooed solid black, knee to ankle. It's still swollen but not painful.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Ive just had a beautifully crafted fuschia tattooed on my foot. Absolutwly love it but i do have some swelling. Keeping it elevayed is certainly helping. Great advice Rachel xxx

    ReplyDelete
  79. Thanks so much for the info, I'm more at ease after reading this. I got a full lower leg tattoo and have never experienced such pure death pain in my life lol. The artists at the shop were telling me that I will have trouble walking but I shrugged it off. I literally can't walk! Lol everytime I try to stand it feels like every liquid in my body is rushing to that leg and it's going to blow off, it's not red or itchy. Looks and feels pretty good until I stand up. God I can't wait until this passes.

    ReplyDelete
  80. This post was so helpful and made plenty of sense. I literally had an ankle tattoo 3 days ago and went clubbing straight after so I was a little concerned when my ankle and foot began to swell the following day. Luckily reading your post has explained why my ankle swelled so much as I clearly didn't rest it "oops" I did notice a little bit of redness but since putting on my tattoo cream and using that frequently the redness has disappeared. I will be passing this information on to my friend as she had the same tattoo the same day and her ankle has swollen too. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to have been of help!! And we've all been there!! xx

      Delete
  81. Large tattoo on lower leg and yes ankle swelled, ALOT. I went ahead and got antibiotics from Dr. as it was making me paranoid. Swelling has diminished in ankle, but seems more prominent by tattoo now. It has been 10 days and I'm getting paranoid. I do not wear tight socks, but you would think I do because when I remove my sock you can see every stitch. Any advice? Should I hold out or go back to Doc.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh bless you! 10 days is quite long for the swelling to still be going, but could just be a reaction to the ink.If it isn't reducing at all, then I'd definitely go back to the Dr, but if it is starting to go down, give it a couple more days. Make sure you're resting it, and where possible, avoid socks. Good luck! x

      Delete
    2. Thanks Rachel. Unfortunately it seems to be worse when I get off work, and I am sitting most of my day, so yes it is "resting" but not elevated. I'm not able to remove the socks during the day, but am trying to wear the loosest ones I have. There is no pain at this point so hopefully it goes away with time. :)

      Delete
  82. Thank you for this post. I recently had a cover up done on my foot. My foot is going on day four with swelling. Two nights ago I had a major panic attack because of it. I hope it gets back to normal soon! It is very discomforting. It's tough trying to stay off of it. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  83. I had gotten a leg piece as well, today will be day three. Its the size of my hand of a sailor jerry peacock. and the same thing has happened to me. I've noticed that my leg is wise the size of my normal leg and the swelling as reached my ankle. The pain/swelling has reached were i can hardly walk using both legs. So glad i've found this post because I was REALLY starting to get worried.

    thank you everyone for the reassurance and knowledge that I'm not the only one and that this is totally normal.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Thank you for writing this article! My tattoo guy said my ankle would swell up and to have fun with it Lol but my entire calf also seemed to swell up! I am so glad I found your article before I got too deep into Googling it :)

    ReplyDelete
  85. Thank you I got my second tattoo and I never experienced this swelling before... It is nice to know I am not alone with this.... I'm in school now so it's difficult to keep my foot up but now I know I can try.... Excellent thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you so much for this! I had a large piece done on my calf on Saturday and since Monday my ankle/foot has been very swollen and uncomfortable. I've got a lot of other tattoos, including below the knee and foot, but I've never experienced it like this before. Very reassuring to hear it's common and the tips are really helpful! Hopefully it goes down by this weekend :-)

    ReplyDelete
  87. Thankyou so much for this. I was starting to worry when I kept getting out of bed to searing pain in my leg! I was convinced cogsworth, lumere and mrs Potts were getting infected! Hopefully after reading this it will soon feel better. It's the first tattoo I've ever had trouble with x

    ReplyDelete
  88. I'm so glad this was the first article I read when I googled this subject! Put my mind right at ease!! I really can't believe the pain and swelling from a foot tattoo. Good excuse to spend the weekend relaxing now 😁 Thank you x

    ReplyDelete
  89. You are a life saver Rachel! I wish I had read this before I went & got both foot done the same day 😓

    ReplyDelete
  90. Oh, yes, and thanks a lot for putting my mind to rest... :) As I got renal colic's case just one day after I was panicking...

    ReplyDelete
  91. Hooray for finding this thread! I'm heavily tattooed but hadn't had any work on my legs before. Had a 3 hour sitting 4 days ago, a large piece on the back of my calf. The actual tattoo was fine, but my god, the swelling!!! I was getting a bit freaked today, I'm thinking day 4...should be easing up, not seeing my foot and ankle twice the size of the other one!! I've currently got my foot up in the air and hoping it will go down soon! Thanks for sharing and putting my mind at rest! X

    ReplyDelete
  92. Thanks for your detailed posts, I found them really helpful. Had my first tattoo on my right leg two days ago and my foot has swollen. The tattoo has covered half of my leg so its quite a good size. It is not painful except immediately after getting up which means I have to sit for a few minutes before I can move about. Just keeping the leg elevated as per the original post. Very useful posts - thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Thank u so much for this post ! Good to see your post is still helping people I crapped myself googled it and found this I'll maybe sleep tonight now thought I was going to need it amputated !! Lol x

    ReplyDelete
  94. Thanks for this thread! Day 4 after a huge lower leg cover up. I made the mistake of being too active on Day 2. Cankle and sharp pains put me down yesterday. Trying to find the right dose of Ibuprofen so I can function easily at work. I'm on my feet all day. Praying this beauty heals quickly! :)

    ReplyDelete
  95. First time commenting on a blog. Thank you for this!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment.
They are always appreciated and always read.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig