TATTOOS: Tips on swollen legs and feet after a tattoo

February 24, 2014

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. 

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. 

218 responses to “TATTOOS: Tips on swollen legs and feet after a tattoo”

  1. Anonymous says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

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

    • Unknown says:

      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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      I'm very glad!

    • Caezlynn Panlasigui says:

      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??

    • Lydia says:

      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..

    • johni says:

      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!! οΏ½οΏ½

    • cjrmommy says:

      Thank you so much! This info was so helpful!

    • Roger Nguyen says:

      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

    • Unknown says:

      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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

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

    • Donna Bishop says:

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

    • Donna Bishop says:

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

    • Anonymous says:

      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!

    • Stacy Teeple says:

      I am on day six of my healing process and now my foot and ankle is swollen below my tattoo on my calf is this normal

    • Ross says:

      I couldn’t agree more with the above. I am quite heavily tattooed and I have had the full range of healing processes over the years and wanted to know other people experiences when it came to knee ditches and calf muscles.

      The swelling in the lower legs is very uncomfortable but it does not always means an infection.

      Worth noting that if you are a bigger person, the pressure on the lower leg is greater so even more important to spend time off your feet if you can.

      You need to think very carefully about what you need to do for the three days after the tattoo to make sure that you can heal properly.

      I had a large piece done on my calf, knee ditch and thigh last week and spent three days with my leg up afterwards which has been brilliant.

      The heat is come out of the tattoo area.

      The redness is withdrawing from the area around and the bruising around the edge of the knee is fading.

      I still have some swelling in the calf muscle and knee when I have my leg down but I underwent over 20 hours of work so I am not surprised by this at all.

      Despite the limping and short term pain I have suffered this will not stop me from doing my second knee ditch.

      • illustratedteacup says:

        Absolutely agree, I’m quite petite so would image a larger person would have more difficulty and pain. I well imagine a knee ditch would be painful! But glad it hasn’t put you off. Good luck with your next session!

  2. Christy says:

    Thank you for this πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      You are very welcome – glad to be able to help

    • Breda S says:

      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.

  3. Anonymous says:

    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!

  4. Anonymous says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  5. Anonymous says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  6. Alice Rosie Allsop says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  7. Anonymous says:

    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?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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!

    • Anonymous says:

      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 πŸ™‚

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      I'm so glad I could help! And I'm very glad the swelling is starting to go down! πŸ™‚ xx

  8. Anonymous says:

    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!

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  9. Hanna Faye says:

    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. πŸ™‡πŸ™‡πŸ™‡

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  10. Hanna Faye says:

    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 πŸ™‚

  11. Monique says:

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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  12. Nicole says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

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

      • Helen Henderson says:

        Sorry I’ve wrote on her but I’m not sure how to do a proper post but just want some advise I had a tattoo a week ago on the top of my leg close to my hip it’s had no redness no swelling or anything however today I’ve started getting cramp and like numb feeling but it’s perfect my tat do u think it will be ok

  13. Jess says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!!

  14. Poker Player says:

    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..

  15. marcus Alexis says:

    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.

  16. Romeo Mediodia says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  17. Anonymous says:

    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!

  18. AJ Encarnado says:

    Thankyou very much. Very informative

  19. Alexandria McCauley says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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 helpsRach

  20. C Thomas says:

    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 πŸ™‚

  21. James Hart says:

    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 :/

  22. Unknown says:

    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.

  23. Lee McLean says:

    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

  24. @MrsAshborosCat says:

    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. πŸ™‚

  25. John Forrester says:

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  26. Amber Diduch says:

    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.

  27. Ted says:

    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.

  28. Erica Intensitee says:

    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!

  29. Sarah Eaton says:

    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

  30. Joey G says:

    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

  31. Vicky Solloso says:

    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.

  32. Rachel W says:

    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 πŸ™ 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

  33. Unknown says:

    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

  34. Celestine Elliott says:

    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

  35. Kelly McGrath says:

    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!!!

  36. Zoinkpanooley says:

    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

  37. Anonymous says:

    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!

  38. dee says:

    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 πŸ™‚ 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 ^^

  39. Anonymous says:

    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

  40. Unknown says:

    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.

  41. StaciA Face says:

    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?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  42. Unknown says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  43. Tiffany Huynh says:

    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. 😊

  44. Nessie says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

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

    • Ryan Nix says:

      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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  45. Unknown says:

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

  46. Unknown says:

    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.

  47. Unknown says:

    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 πŸ˜†

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      Wow 53rd!! Hopefully the swelling will go down quickly!!

    • Hail The Succubus says:

      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

  48. Unknown says:

    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.

  49. Anonymous says:

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

  50. annesboutique online says:

    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.

  51. Mary Rice says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  52. jadediva81 says:

    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!

  53. Unknown says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  54. Anonymous says:

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

  55. Unknown says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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!

  56. Unknown says:

    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.

  57. Gillian R says:

    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.

  58. Ronald I. Bremer says:

    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.

  59. Sharon says:

    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.

  60. Michelle says:

    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?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  61. Michelle says:

    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.

  62. Manos says:

    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!

  63. Dan Sullivan says:

    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!

  64. Louise mcKie says:

    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

  65. Anonymous says:

    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 πŸ™‚ soo figers crossed that i will find my ankle and fit into my shoes again

  66. Ronald I. Bremer says:

    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.

  67. Anonymous says:

    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!

  68. Unknown says:

    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

  69. Anonymous says:

    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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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.

  70. Zoe Castleman says:

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

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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!

  71. Anonymous says:

    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!

  72. Anonymous says:

    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.

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

  73. April Brown says:

    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.

  74. Allie Redmond says:

    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

  75. Unknown says:

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

  76. Kimber Neal says:

    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!

  77. Unknown says:

    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.

  78. Daniella says:

    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

  79. Leena says:

    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.

  80. Kay White says:

    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

  81. Anonymous says:

    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.?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      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

    • Anonymous says:

      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. πŸ™‚

  82. Jamie Phillips says:

    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!

  83. Unknown says:

    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.

  84. Unknown says:

    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 πŸ™‚

  85. Anonymous says:

    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.

  86. Kelly says:

    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 πŸ™‚

  87. Rachel GB says:

    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

  88. Lisa Lollypop says:

    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

  89. Unknown says:

    You are a life saver Rachel! I wish I had read this before I went & got both foot done the same day πŸ˜“

  90. Gigi Jansen says:

    Oh, yes, and thanks a lot for putting my mind to rest… πŸ™‚ As I got renal colic's case just one day after I was panicking…

  91. Soraya says:

    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

  92. Monica says:

    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.

  93. Kristine allison says:

    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

  94. Kim S says:

    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! πŸ™‚

  95. Anonymous says:

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

  96. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further post thanks once again.

  97. Dragonfyre says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I got a relatively large piece this weekend, and while not my first it's definitely my biggest (tattoo took 9 hours) and my leg/ankle are ridiculously swollen, and as it's wrapped in saniderm, I was worried. But this definitely put my mind at ease. I always swell after tattoos but never like this.

  98. Marilyn Woo says:

    Thank you so much for this! I actually got panic a bit on the next day after I got my tattoo, as my leg got so swollen that it's almost double the size of my right leg. Initially I thought it was the cream that I used. Then when on the fourth day, my friend said that my leg probably got infected, I got so scared. And thank God I found your blog post. Immediately I follow what you said, and elevate my leg on a small stool. After a while I dont feel as much pain as before. Thank you!!

  99. Unknown says:

    I just got my entire right calf done today and the after pain is intense and tge swelling sucks! I have other tattoos and have never had this issue so im glad i found this so i can stop bugging my tattoo artist. I also have a lot of plasma and blood still coming out, but she said that is normal too. So noe i know…if i wake up tomorrow and i have a beach ball for a leg…its totally fine! Thanks for the post!

  100. Barbara Schaffer says:

    Thank you so much just had my tattoo three days ago drove 1300 miles my ankle is double the size and my leg is swollen was getting ready to go to the doctors thinking maybe something was wrong my tattoo is on the whole side and back of my calf . Thank you for your post

  101. Unknown says:

    Same here i got a full ankle to lower knee wrap around poly tattoo and today being Wednesday it looks like I sprained my ankle. Looks fully swollen. The pain is gone, no itching yet but calf is swollen where you can see ink separation. Is that normal? I'm on my feet in construction 12hrs a day

  102. Phantom says:

    Thank youu thank you very much! I got my tattoo yesterday and today I had to go to school. I did not imagine how bad it would be. It hurts and I can hardly walk. Since I have to walk to get to my university it was really painful. When I come home I was alone and I had to take care of my dog. I was about to have a break down when I discovered your blog. I was really going mad and thinking if there was something wrong with my leg. However you just made my day. Tomorrow I HAVE to go to school and it was my biggest concern. Now I'm treating my leg accordingly and hope that tomorrow it will be a little bit better which is fine to me.

  103. Unknown says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I did not experience all of this pain and swelling after tattooing my left leg. Definitely had a heavier handed artist this time! This is my ninth tattoo and I've never experienced swelling or pain like this, but glad to know it's normal! Thank you to everyone that has commented and shared their experience! Now I guess it's my turn to sit back and relax through the pain!

  104. Anonymous says:

    Had swelling for a week after an 8 hour sitting. Second suttjng was 2 hours on my ankle 5 days ago. Scabbing over nicely now so can I wear a loose sock ?

  105. Anonymous says:

    i had all the back of my leg tattooed and its very swollen and very tight and painful but I have it in a cold pack I find it difficult to walk when I first get up but after reading the other post I hope it is not a trip to the doctors

  106. Jeff says:

    Thank you for the post. I had quite a painful session coloring in my sleeve on my inner and back calf. I just realized my ankle is super swollen, though it doesn't hurt to walk. Glad to know it's normal though. I was so scared it was an infection

  107. beauXjames says:

    thanks! lower right calf issues here, too. I'm on a motorcycle often when the wind comes whipping through there is no comfortable position nor pant for the occasion. Your post and all the great comments have renewed my hope that I'll get to walk again 😁

  108. Unknown says:

    I just had a leg tat done Saturday, and I'm having lots of pain n trouble walking on that leg. I guess putting pressure on it when I first get up. I was getting nervous, but reading above comments could this be normal? Nothing appears infected…just very sore, and hard to walk.

  109. Jeanine Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks for this post! I also had this happen while working on my 1/2 sleeve, particularly the inside of the upper arm. I had quite a bit of edema that lasted about 48 hours, then went away. I ate some bananas (magnesium helps with swellling), kept it elevated, and took some Aleve. Worked like a charm!

  110. Neenah says:

    Yesterday I had the entire outside of my left leg 5" wide from hip bone to ankle bone tattooed. I was told it WILL hurt for a few days as it took over 5 hours to do. No mention of excessivswelling. Well today I got up and drove 7 1/2 hours and when i got to the hotel my left leg is twice the size of normal and feels as if my skin is going to pop open. I laid cool cloths on it for 5 min and I now have it elevated and took some ibprophene. If I had know about keeping it elevated i would have sat in the back seat while my husband drove. I want to thank you as i thought something was seriously wrong.

  111. Unknown says:

    Dear Gods bless you and I thank you sooo much I was worried and beginning to freak out lol. This blog has helped immensely. I got a 2 An half ta 3 hours cover-up done Saturday and holy wow my ankle looks a fat orange!!! I do have one question tho, is it normal for the tat to feel like it's on fire?

  112. Becky Wheeland says:

    Dear Gods thank you and bless you for this post. I had a cover-up done on Saturday on my lower outside right calf that took about 3 hrs to complete, with alot of shading. Needless to say my ankle resembles a very fat orange lol. I am wondering tho if it's normal for the area that is tattooed to feel hot?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      Oh bless you. Yes, pretty normal to feel hot for a day or so afterwards, but keep an eye on it as heat with red skin around the tattoo could be a sign of infection. If you're worried please either check back with your tattooist, or see your GP. x

  113. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I was looking all over for answers and ran into the same issues of what I was finding answers on. This was so helpful and thank you once again.Peaches V.

  114. Unknown says:

    Omg thank you! I was getting a little worried after day 4 of this club that used to be my foot.. hadn’t had a calf tat before so wasn’t expecting this.. never had any problems with any other ones I have!

  115. David Creteur says:

    Excellent post and forum! You have done a really great job bringing us all useful information. I had a full calf color deadpool done 2 days ago, and the edema in that leg is ridiculous. It was five hours under the machine, and it's awesome. But ow! Price you will pay for a large work of art! It is annoying and painful for most, but it will pass! Keep vigilant with your cleaning and care routine!I agree with everything you all have presented here, and those who come after can be sure this is good info.Salute!

  116. Shelby Westerlund says:

    You're soo right about the tight clothes. I now have this very noticeable swelling line right above my ankle where my jeans sit. It's been very weird these last couple of days walking around with one leg bigger than the other lol. I've never swelled as bad as I have with this tattoo!

  117. Unknown says:

    I've just had my first leg tattoo and literally just noticed like less than 36 hours later how swollen my left ankle is. I freaked out, I am keeping it cleaned and am using the healing goo I got at the studio. Will try icing it before bed. Thank you for your post. It has put me somewhat at ease.Ps: the new tattoo is right above my left ankle

  118. Amy Elizabeth Baker says:

    Thank you. Just…thank you. Only ever had arm pieces until yesterday. The swelling freaked me the hell out.I'm elevating it as we speak and will try icing it before bed

  119. Unknown says:

    I had a largish tattoo on the outside of my leg in January this year. It was very painful and my ankle and foot swelled and turned red. I contacted the tattooist and he said Ibuprofen would help and have my GP take a look at it. It was so painful that it kept me awake at night so I took Ibuprofen and this gave me so much relief that I decided not to bother my GP and after a few weeks it seemed to healed well. However, it is now the end of June and during this hot weather I noticed lumpy patches in some places and it itches like mad. I think perhaps my Doctor should look at it but am not keen on them. I have other tattoos with little bother and none this far on. I have tried lots of different creams and they do stop the itching but I cannot understand the lumpiness. Has anyone else had this?

    • Rachel Bradford says:

      Hi, if I'm honest, this sounds totally normal. A lot of my tattoos will raise and itch when I'm really hot, especially thick line work. As long as the skin itself isn't hot to touch it likely isn't an infection, just your ink reacting to the change in temperature.

  120. Unknown says:

    Thank you so much for this info. I got a tattoo on my ankle Friday and for the last 3 days my foot has been swollen. This makes me feel so much better about that. No itching or hot feeling so ill live with it. Thanks again.

  121. Thanks for this post! I’ve had a couple of lower leg and calf tattoos but thin lines and small designs, 3 days ago I had a 2 tattoos 5 hours worth of work and mine has still got red round and warm, it’s getting a bit less but I’m keeping it totally elevated and every time I put my foot down it’s so painful and swells. I’m pretty sure it’s not infected as had the same redness around my other tattoos but so glad to reiterate this is normal πŸ™‚ thank you.

  122. Audrey says:

    Gods bless you! I have a small tattoo above my ankle, and an enormous tattoo that covers 3/4 of my calf, and neither one swelled or hurt after that I noticed. I had my calf tattoo recolored; it was a watercolor, (and now it’s not), and my foot and ankle are very swollen and uncomfortable! I know what to do for swelling; I just wanted to know it’s normal! It’s not red or hot, so that was reassuring, but since it’s never happened before I was a little concerned. I think my tattoo is about the same size as yours, and my artist was going at it pretty hard, so it actually makes sense it’s swollen-it’s an injury! Lol. Anyway thanks again!

  123. Candy Hepp says:

    I am so glad I found this post. I have 5 smaller tattoos but got one covered yesterday and its about 50% of outside leg. Woke up with just pain from being poked on for 2+ hours. By lunchtime my ankle bone is nonexistent. Thanks for your suggestions on how to handle this.

  124. Laura says:

    I have several tattoos including a 7-hour backpiece and a 6-hour thigh piece, both of which only hurt for about 48 hours afterwards. Last weekend I got a small tattoo just above my ankle and I have never known swelling like it. I am on Day 4 now and my leg is still incredibly tight, swollen and sore – walking is very difficult and it’s worse first thing in the morning when I have just got up. I am taking Ibuprofen and using cold compresses to try and relieve the swelling/pain but to be honest nothing is making a vast amount of difference!

    I am looking forward to getting out of this phase of the healing process as quickly as possible as to be honest this is worse than the actual pain of getting tattooed in the first place!

  125. Ellen Cunningham says:

    I had my first big tattoo on the side of my calf a few nights ago. The next day my calf was noticeably swollen but I expected it and I also expected gravity to do its thing with my foot lol. It hurts like a sunburn and a bruise but I also bruise very easily. I have been doing round the clock applications of peppermint, tee tree and lavender oil diluted in coconut oil. This has not only helped relieve the topical pain but helps promote healing and prevent infection. Also been taking Ibuprofen a few times a day. The swelling and redness in my calf is almost gone but my foot is another story. While I knew all of this would happen it is still reassuring to see others experience the same thing.

  126. Steph says:

    I’m so glad I found this post! I got a decently sized tattoo on the lower part of my calf and started experiencing a kankle today and freaked out!

  127. Maarit / Finland says:

    Hello! I just had my leg tattooed with a rather big picture. I have other leg tattoos but this one was bigger than others. The morning right after the tattoo time, I woke up with such a sore leg I had to limp the first 5 minutes..! Turns out that I, too, get badly swollen.

    I asked from a heavily tattooed friend of mine what to do to ease the swelling, and she directed me here to your blog (which helped her with her leg piece, too!)

    Thank you very much! I’ll follow your anti-swelling tips besides my regular aftercare routines πŸ™‚

    (One could say that taking a leg tattoo is a good idea, because it both asks you to take it easy and calm down, and also asks you to walk a little outdoors to get fresh air. )

  128. Stacey says:

    Me and my sister just got matching ankle tattoo’s done. Mine started went from the usual new tattoo pain to stinging to straight up hurting the same night. Hers didn’t do that until the next day. Its going on day 4 and we’re both having these same problems! Our ankles are swollen and it hurts to walk on it. This scared me when I couldn’t find anything on it, so i’m glad I read this! Could anyone tell me exactly why this happens? What makes lower tattoos worse then higher up ones? A tattoo is a tattoo, so why are lower ones so much worse?

    • illustratedteacup says:

      It’s linked to blood flow. Your blood will obviously settle in your lower body. Plus your legs and feet carry the rest of your body so are under a lot of pressure whilst trying to heal. You’ll find elevating your leg will help relieve the pain and pressure for this reason.
      If you’re worried or it goes red, see your tattooist or GP. X

      • Terri Vale says:

        I just got a big calf tattoo five days ago. My leg is swollen and painful beyond belief. My ankle has literally disappeared due to swelling. I’ve iced, kept it elevated and taken ibuprofen. Nothing has helped- In fact it seems worse. I have a lot of big tatts and nothing like this has ever happened. I’m very concerned it’s infected, but after reading all these stories at least I know the symptoms are common. I had no idea that this area would prove so problematic. Definitely a warning to anyone considering a tattoo in this area.

        • illustratedteacup says:

          Absolutely, I never imagined it would be so rough when I had mine done! Fingers crossed your symptoms have subsided. But do see your tattooist or GP if they persist!

  129. shauna kinsella says:

    I just had a 7 hour session of a very detailed portrait taking over my shin my tattoo artist said it will swell and have a bit of bruising around the area but because i assumed it wouldnt be noticeable i shit myself when i saw the difference between my legs i only have tattoos on my back and arm but this post stopped my worrying so muchπŸ˜‚

  130. Alison Walsh says:

    I just got a stitch piece on my left calf and its so swollen this has calmed the panic right down thank u so much as none of the other 13 tays did this but then none of them are ths size of my full calf. Again thank u so much

  131. Roe kay says:

    Day 4 after getting some work done on my left calf I noticed swollen leg n ankles… Boy did I ever get frightened until I had asked a friend whom is a tattoo artist. Said it was normal… πŸ™‚ I also googled (probably the worst thing to do while almost having an anxiety attack) this article very helpful. Put my mind at rest. Thank you very much!

    • illustratedteacup says:

      Oh bless you, sometimes Google is the best place and sometimes the absolute worst. I’m glad your tattoo is ok and I could offer some peace of mind. X

  132. Natalia says:

    I’m just here to say thanks and that people are still getting help from this in 2019. I just got a HUGE Frankenstein with a lot of black in it ok 90% of my outer calf and my entire lower leg is hard and swollen with a lot of redness. Joy!

  133. Laura flewellen says:

    Really useful post, I had a calf tattoo last Friday, leg has been to tender and sore to elevate. Been taking regular ibuprofen and keeping it clean with tattoo moisturizer, most scabs are off. But leg and foot still swollen, I was hoping this was normal, just hope it doesn’t take too long for the swelling and pain to go

  134. apple says:

    ty i was worried day 3 had my ankle an foot swollen. did a big one on outside of calf im like why is my foot swollen ty all for the messages

  135. apple says:

    i hear ya i got two half sleves but this big leg tat had me scared like wtf is wrong here ty for easing my mind

  136. Ami says:

    PHEW! Thanks πŸ˜€ Yesterday I spent 6 hours getting tattooed at a tattoo con. 2 tattoos on the same leg- one on lower inside, one on lower outside. When I got up this morning my poor foot looks like a fat little sausage! XD I have a ton of tattoos but I haven’t had as noticeable swelling since I got my foot tattoo! I was pretty sure it was tattoo related but I am happy to have the reassurance!

  137. Jenn Davies says:

    Thank goodness I found this. I had mine done on Saturday, it’s now MOnday and I”m at work, I just reached down to take a look at my leg and my ankle looks like there is a tennis ball there!!! I was slightly starting to panic. I’m trying to elevate it now on a blue box. lol

  138. Chlo says:

    Hi I had a tattoo on my calf on Thursday so about 5 days ago and I’ve started to get swollen ankle when I’m on my feet at work and a little red rash. I’ve been back to the tattoo studio who have said it’s not infected but can’t help but be worried about it. How long should it be like this for ? Thank you in advance

    • illustratedteacup says:

      I’m no expert but sounds like normal swelling and possible heat rash? If it’s started to ease up now then you should be fine, but if you’re really worried, speak to your GP. xx

  139. Hayley says:

    Thank you so much for this post, I got a small tattoo above my ankle three days ago and it’s super tender and hurts to walk sometimes because it feels like my flesh is going to tear. I was googling around and found this post and it’s a relief that this kind of thing is normal. I was about ready to go back to the shop and complain! Haha. I walked a lot yesterday so I’m going to follow your tips and see how it goes. Again, thank you for making this for everyone else that was worried! You’re a gem x

  140. vladimir says:

    thank you so much ! I can sleep peacefully now πŸ˜…

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