Can a Tattoo Be Fixed?


An unsatisfactory tattoo etched permanently onto your body is most people’s worst-case scenario when it comes to deciding on their tattoo – perhaps, it's even what's holding you back from going under the needle.

Or, perhaps you're already in that unfortunate situation, and are desperately looking for a way out.

Either way, the same question is probably on your mind: can a tattoo be fixed?

How Do Tattoos Work?

To understand your options when it comes to fixing or removing a tattoo, it's important to understand how the tattooing process works.

Tattoo needles deliver the ink into the dermis, the tissue underneath the outer layer of skin. A tattoo machine pierces the dermis up to 3,000 times per minute.

As part of the immune response to the damage done to the dermis, the body sends a type of blood cell called macrophages to remove the ink. Some of the ink ends up being whisked away, but some of the macrophages stay in the dermis while still holding the ink. These ink-holding cells are what allow a tattoo to remain visible.

What is Tattoo Blowout?

Tattoo artists and their clients alike dread tattoo blowouts. If you see a tattoo with lines that look smudged or colours that have bled into each other, a tattoo blowout has probably occurred. A tattoo blowout is sometimes referred to as a tattoo “spreading.”

Tattoo blowout happens when the tattoo artist inserts ink too deeply into the skin. If tattoo ink goes past the dermis, it can spread into surrounding layers of fat.

The cell structure and degree of pressure present in fat are different from those in the dermis. When it comes into contact with fat, ink can disperse in an undesired way inside the layers of the skin.

Tattoo blowout can become apparent either nearly immediately or not until several weeks later. Blowout is often hard to spot until the tattoo is at least partially healed, since bruises or redness right after tattooing can hide a blowout or even be confused for a blowout.

Tattoo blowout can be a result of carelessness or inexperience, but not always. Areas of the body where the skin is extremely thin are difficult to tattoo without triggering a blowout - these include wrists, fingers, ankles, toes, and the tops of the hands and feet. Even experienced artists can accidentally cause a tattoo blowout.

Can Tattoo Blowout Be Fixed?

The bad news is that tattoo blowouts cannot simply be reversed. There are options for reducing the visibility of blowouts, though.

In some cases, where only a small amount of ink has blown out, it will eventually disperse over an area wide enough that it will no longer be easily visible.

Not everyone is so lucky, however. Here are some options for those looking into tattoo blowout removal. With each one, it is important to consider the effectiveness, time commitment, and tattoo removal cost.

Tattoo Cover-Up

Getting a cover-up is usually the most inexpensive, easy, and fast way to handle a tattoo blowout. You will have to wait until your original tattoo is fully healed before you can get it covered, but if you get a skilled tattoo artist who is experienced in tattoo cover-ups, the results should be worth it.

Depending on what you’re looking for, your artist can either rework the original design or do something radically different with it.

Elaborate designs lend themselves more easily to being reworked and added to in order to cover blowouts. Simple designs can be more difficult, but an experienced tattoo artist will likely be able to help you come up with an idea.

Small designs also tend to be easier to cover up, but big cover-up tattoos are a challenge that many artists are willing to take on.

Laser Treatments

When most people think of tattoo removal, they think of laser treatment. However, laser treatment for tattoo blowout removal isn't the best solution for everyone.

Purely black tattoos are the most likely to respond well to laser treatment. Red is another colour that can usually be eliminated relatively easily with a laser.

Unfortunately, more colourful tattoos can resist laser treatment, though they may be lightened or possibly removed with lots of sessions. Colours such as yellow, orange, and brown are known for sometimes refusing to budge at all.

One of the pros of laser treatment is that a session is over with fast. A postage stamp-sized tattoo can undergo a laser treatment session in about 30 seconds. Judging from this number, it becomes clear that even larger tattoos can receive a session's worth of treatment in only a few minutes.

Of course, there are also some cons to laser treatment. For one, laser treatment is regarded by many as being more painful than the original tattoo.

Laser treatment might not be the best option for someone worried about tattoo removal costs. The average session costs about $500. On top of that, most tattoos require multiple sessions to get the best possible results.

Surgical Removal

Here’s where things get drastic: surgical removal should probably be the last place you turn for tattoo blowout removal. A surgeon can cut out the tattooed skin and sew the surrounding skin back together.

The main draw of this technique is that it guarantees that the tattoo will be completely gone forever. The cons include a long recovery time, the chance of scarring, and the chance of infection.

Preventing Tattoo Blowout

If possible, it's definitely better to prevent tattoo blowouts from happening in the first place rather than relying on time-consuming and expensive solutions to the problem.

One way to reduce your risk of a blowout is to avoid getting tattooed on areas where your skin is thin, such as the fingers, wrists, ankles, and the tops of the hands and feet.

Regardless of the location of your tattoo, it is best to avoid excessive or sudden stretching of the area, especially before the tattoo is healed. Stretching the tattoo too much can lead to the ink spreading into unwanted areas.

Selecting an experienced tattoo artist is another way to reduce your chances of experiencing a blowout. Though it is impossible to guarantee that no blowout will occur, tattoo artists who have been practicing their skills for a longer period of time are less likely to make mistakes.

The thought of a tattoo blowout damaging your precious brand-new tattoo is definitely a stress-inducing one, but even if it does happen to you (or already has), there are steps you can take to combat the issue. Don’t let a fear of blowout hold you back from getting the tattoo of your dreams.

At Black Line Studio, our team of artists is experienced and professional, and is here for you to help you achieve the look you’ve always wanted. Reach out to a member of our team today to get started.