Nearly every tattooed individual has encountered nosy strangers and well-meaning family members who nag them with prying questions. One of the most common questions that gets asked is one we’ve all heard before: “Won’t you regret that when you get old?” This question is so common because tattoo opponents are under the assumption that aging skin dissipates ink. However, tattoo artists are constantly evolving, and the new machines, inks, and aftercare products available today allow tattoos to heal beautifully and remain bold long after they’ve healed.
Combatting the effects of aging skin (and prying relatives) aside, tattoo mistakes are another common problem that arise when you commit to getting inked; mistakes will always remain a harsh reality of the business. While tattoo mistakes are entirely avoidable, most people with ink will admit they have at least one piece that’s a little more than just a thorn in their side. Our interests evolve, ink fades, and sometimes artists’ ambitions clash with our vision. Plus, some tattoos just don’t heal well, resulting in gaps and faded ink. If you have a tattoo that you’re unhappy with, there are a whole host of remedies, such as cover-ups, revisions, and laser procedures, that are available to salvage regrettable ink.
The most common method for getting rid of unwanted ink is the practice of covering up an old, unwanted tattoo with a more attractive piece. If the old tattoo has already faded, covering it up can actually be a relatively simple process. To completely conceal the old piece, a cover-up must be larger and more heavily shaded.
A cover-up tattoo must also consider the colors (if any) in the old piece, as any new ink deposited into the skin will inevitably combine with the old ink. The tendency for old and new inks to combine and create new shades is what motivates artists to incorporate ample black ink into their cover-up work. For this reason, cover-up seekers will want to ensure they’ve decided on an artist they trust and a design they can commit to.
Some tattoos simply don’t heal well, and sometimes we get so excited about a new tattoo idea that we can’t stand to wait for the perfect artist. Whether we make a mistake in our aftercare routine or the chosen artist turns out to be the wrong person for the job, sometimes the final product simply doesn’t meet our expectations. When something goes wrong in the tattoo process, there are likely to be gaps in the ink and the ink will fade quickly. The tattoo will thus appear dull and dingy as opposed to bold and bright. For patrons who still love the design of the tattoo but wish to give it new life, allowing an artist to revise an existing tattoo with brighter colors and bolder lines could be the answer to their woes.
Costly and painful but effective, laser tattoo removal can greatly diminish and even sometimes entirely eliminate the appearance of a tattoo. Much like cover-up ink, the recommended process for lasering a tattoo will depend on the state of the unwanted ink. Tattoos that are already fading will take very well to the laser process, lightening quickly and requiring fewer sessions overall. Laser removal can be the most versatile option for removing an unwanted tattoo, and can almost entirely eliminate a tattoo with dedicated care. However, it is likely to be a long process. The cost and patience necessary to maintain a laser removal regimen is what leads most people to opt for cover-ups.
Still, some unwanted tattoos would be difficult to conceal without a few laser sessions and combining laser removal with cover-up procedures can be worth considering. For instance, a tattoo you’re no longer fond of may be too dark and bold to cover up initially; but after some laser treatments, your older piece will be faded enough for the cover-up you’re dying to get. Getting laser treatments prior to a cover-up requires patience — you’ll have to wait for your skin to heal from each treatment before you’re ready to go under the needle again; but the end result could be well worth it!
The best approach for dealing with unwanted ink depends on what you seek to improve. If you find you’ve outgrown the design entirely, then covering it with a new piece or removing the ink may be the best course of action. On the other hand, revitalizing an old piece can also dramatically improve the appearance of an unwanted tattoo if you still love the design. The most surefire method to ensure an ugly tattoo never sees the light of day will require a combination of laser procedures and cover-up work. Talk to a professional artist about your concerns and what you want; their expertise and developed methods will guide you in concealing the tattoos you no longer love.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.