This seems to crop up very commonly as a question on lots of forums, if you do a search you will see some lots of peoples opinions and varying length of times. I decided to write this piece to help you make an informed decision and not ruin a piece of that that you could have potentially paid a lot of money for.
So if you’re a sane and have some common sense, you’re not going to be rolling 5 minutes after you’ve got out of the chair, right now your new tattoo is an sore, open and weeping wound, hense the reason you’ve been wrapped in cling film. You need to be keeping that clingfilm on for at least two hours to protect it from getting any dust in etc.
After a couple of hours, it’s okay to let you tattoo free into the world, but now is the time you really need to baby that bady boy, if you’re not vigilant, your tattoo with scab and a scabby tattoo is a poor looking tattoo. Once you’ve unwrapped your tattoo you’ve going to need to wash it, now here’s the painful part, you need to be doing this with water as hot as you can bare, and then some.
Firstly you need to wash you hands thoroughly with a gentle un-scented soap, personally I use Simple anti-bacterial soap to wash my tattoo. You need to wash you hands for about 15 second that’s about as long as singing the ABC song you sand as a kid.
Nice you’re going to wash your tattoo with soapy hot water, with your hands and not any scrubs like a flannel of shower puff. Wash the hell out of that thing, you need to be getting rid of any lymph, blood and plasma on that tattoo because that’s going to cause scabbing. Once you’ve washed your arm as much as you can, rinse it off with cold water, this will help close up the pores and restrict the bleeding.
Pat your arm dry with paper towels, don’t use a normal bath towels as they can harbour germs and also leave bits of fluff in your tattoo, once your arm is dry you can then lightly cover your new tattoo with Bepanthen (Preferred option), E45, Savlon, Tattoo Goo, whatever your preferred healing ointment.
Now here’s the kicker, you need to be re-washing your tattoo every couple of hours. You need to make sure that your tattoo does not start to form any scabs. Continue this for three days at the most.
Ready to roll?
Now after three days your tattoo still probably stings and doesn’t look as fresh as it did on day one. It’s probably not advisable to start BJJ yet as your tattoo probably still stings and you can still do some damage if you’re not careful.
Your tattoo is now going to go through the peeling stage of it’s healing cycle, it’s going to look like absolute crap for about a week or two, but make sure you’ve now switched from your healing ointment and are now using a scent-free moisturiser. Keep applying your moisturiser lightly every couple of hours and keep doing so until it has completely stopped peeling.
Is it time to get on the mats?
A week should have gone now and personally I would look at getting back onto the matts to drill some techniques. Make sure you have a rashguard to cover your tattoo as any gi abrasion is going to hamper it from healing and may open up the wound again. Keep doing technique for now and sit out of rolling.
When can I roll?
It should be about two week from when you got your tattoo to when you can roll again. Your tattoo will take 6-8 weeks to full heal so just make sure you’re keeping it covered with a rashguard and are washing with thoroughly when you get home.
Note, this has been written with someone who loves BJJ and loves tattoos, I’m not a doctor or a tattooist but this should give you a good idea on how long it will take to get back on the mats.