You’ve spent months deciding on your tattoo. You make an appointment, and then the day has finally arrived. You’re so excited to finally get your dream piece of body art. You make it through the pain and it’s done – the hard part is over!
Or so you thought…until your tattoo blows out after a few days and the crisp design you walked out of the tattoo studio with is no longer.
What Is Tattoo Blowout?
Tattoo blowout is when the lines of a tattoo become blurry and smudged during the healing process.
This smudging effect happens as the ink travels further past the layers of the skin it was meant to stay in, instead spreading out on fat and veins.
Have you ever dropped ink or food coloring into water and it spreads from the initial drop, getting slightly lighter as it travels? That’s kind of the idea of tattoo blowout.
“Tissue biopsies taken from people with tattoo blowouts have proven that the ink travels much deeper below the skin than is necessary during a tattooing procedure,”Authority Tattoo
While it can cause scarring and ink being spread to unwanted areas of your body, tattoo blowout is not a sign of infection, so you don’t have to worry about illness.
What Causes Tattoo Blowout?
Most commonly, if a tattoo is blown out, it’s because the tattoo artist messed up.
The ink for a tattoo needs to be applied just right – not too shallow, and not too deep. The dermis, below the epidermis, is the sweet spot for ink. Tattoo blowout occurs when the tattooist injects ink into the next layer of skin tissue, the hypodermis.
This is where veins and fat are located; when ink is placed here, it can spread past the lines of the tattoo design you want causing a blurred effect.
“[Blowout] could mean a tattoo artist applied a tattoo too deeply into the skin, [wasn’t] being attentive enough, or [didn’t ink it] at the recommended angle. If applied too deeply into the skin, a tattoo is able to get to the layer of fat, which basically is the reason for such tattoo blowout,”Byrdie
Tattoo blowouts can sometimes be seen right away, but other times it can take a few days for the ink to spread out enough to be noticeable.
Can Tattoo Blowout Be Fixed?
Yes and no. Once the ink is in your skin, you can’t pull it out. So, if you have a blown out tattoo you want fixed, you have two options: Covering up the tattoo or getting laser tattoo removal.
Tattoo Cover Up
You can get a design to cover up the blowout, but the design will need to include thicker lines and darker colors to fully cover up the spread out ink.
Make sure to have a consultation with an experienced tattoo artist (not the tattooist where you got the initial tattoo) to discuss design options. They will be able to tell you what’s possible when it comes to tattoo cover ups.
Black is often the ink of choice when it comes to cover up tattoos, because darker colors dominate lighter colors.
Also, you’ve got to wait until your blown out tattoo is completely healed before getting a cover up tattoo.
Laser Tattoo Removal
If you don’t want to go the cover up route, you can get your blown out tattoo removed with laser tattoo removal.
This procedure works by speeding up your own body’s natural reaction to ink. Remember, tattoo ink is a foreign substance, so your body attempts to break it down over time. That’s why tattoos fade naturally after a few years.
“Laser tattoo removal speeds up the natural process by shattering tattoo ink into smaller pieces that flush away more easily,”Astanza
You can also attempt to remove the blown out lines and try and take your tattoo back to what it was intended to look like.
With PicoSure® technology, Fade Laser says that they,
“…can target the areas where blow out is visible.”
Be prepared price wise, though, as laser tattoo removal can run on the expensive side, especially if your tattoo is large.
Can You Avoid Tattoo Blowout?
Sure, everyone makes mistakes sometimes – even the most experienced tattoo artists can have a slip of the hand and go in too deep. However, the chance of tattoo blowout is drastically reduced when you get your inking done by a professional.
Using thin skin as canvas for your new tattoo can also increase the chances that you’ll experience blowout.
“It is much more likely that due to the extreme thinness of these areas of skin, the needle will protrude into the lower layers a lot more easily and thus potentially cause a blowout,”Authority Tattoo
Examples of thin skin areas are the wrists, ankles, fingers, toes, and the tops of the hands and feet. If you’re worried about blowout, you can look into placing your tattoo design on thicker skin, such as the thigh, forearm, or bicep.
Once you’ve gotten your tattoo from an experienced artist, the ball is in your court when it comes to aftercare. Always follow aftercare instructions! How you look after your fresh ink plays a massive role in how it will look when it’s healed.
Wash your tattoo twice a day, put on moisturizer, and never pull, stretch, or scratch your tattoo – this can also cause the ink to spread past the lines of the design. Not only that, but stretching or scratching your fresh ink can also prolong the healing process and make the tattoo more susceptible to infection.
If you want to get a tattoo, blowout is definitely something you need to be aware of. Keep this in the back of your mind when deciding to get tattooed by a new artist. Always look at pictures of their healed work before going under the needle.
A discounted price from a tattooist who isn’t a professional and hasn’t had the proper training just isn’t worth it.
Tattoo blowout is difficult to fix, so do your due diligence.