You just got a new tattoo, and it looks amazing. But, after a few days, you’re noticing that the tattoo is looking more and more smudged and it’s even starting to spread. The first thing everyone would do in such a situation is panic (understandably). But, there’s no need for that. First, you have to educate yourself about tattoos going wrong, as well as signs of tattoo healing.
If the tattoo is getting smudged, blurred, and spreading, then we’re talking about a phenomenon known as a blowout. But, if the tattoo is getting dry, scabby, and itchy, then it is simply going through the process of healing. And, of course, if the tattoo is continually red and swollen, then you’re probably experiencing an infection, which requires immediate medical attention.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the signs of a blowout and the healing of a tattoo. We’ll also take a look at how each can be mitigated, put under control, and treated.
Tattoo Blowout – Explained
1. What Is a Tattoo Blowout?
If you notice that you’re tattoo starting to look blurry, smudged, or is starting to spread, then you’re in the presence of a tattoo blowout. But, before you freak out, we have to emphasize that this is not a serious, health-endangering problem. There are ways to treat it or cover it, especially if the blowout case is mild.
2. Why Does It Happen?
Tattoo blowouts aren’t studied since people don’t generally report such cases for whatever reasons. But, what we do know so far is that they happen because the tattoo needle has gone too far into the skin, penetrating beneath the surface layer and into the fat below the surface. Because the fat beneath is an uncontrolled environment for the tattoo, the ink starts to spread and move beyond the surface lines of the tattoo. Here is a summary of the main reasons blowout happens;
- The tattooed area is bony and has thin skin
- The skin was stretched too much during tattooing
- The tattoo needle was inserted at an awkward/slanted angle into the skin
- The tattoo artist pushed the needle too deep into the skin
- There was excessive movement during tattooing
Because of this, after several days, your initially perfect tattoo becomes blurry and the edges start to spread. The overall image can be mildly or seriously distorted. The blowout cases tend to appear more frequently in older people, where the skin is stretchy, less elastic, and more brittle, but it can also happen in younger, more elastic skin.
3. Is a Tattoo Blowout the Artist’s Fault?
In the majority of cases yes; tattoo blowouts can be a result of the artist’s lack of experience or simply bad work. The tattoo artist is the one who did not recognize that the needle is going too deep into the skin. Moreover, the artist didn’t probably even talk to you about the possibility of something like this happening and what to do in such a case.
Before you get a tattoo, your tattoo artist needs to explain everything tattoo-related to you; both the good and the bad. They have to emphasize that they either lack experience or that they don’t know how to do a certain tattoo. Because of this, people have to deal with tattoo blowouts, which can be a costly and permanent problem to have.
4. How Can You Fix It?
- Tattooing Over The Blowout
Let’s start by saying that correcting the blowout with another tattoo is the least expensive way to correct such a mistake. It will cost you anywhere between $50 and $400, depending on the size, type, and placement of the tattoo. The price also depends on the seriousness of the blowout and the extent to which it has spread. Sometimes a small tattoo can have a serious blowout, which doubles its size, and increases the cost of ‘repair’.
Note: In case of serious tattoo blowout, your tattoo artists will have to make the covering tattoo much darker than the original one. It will also have a completely different design. If the tattoo artist is good, they will try to incorporate the blowout tattoo into the new design, to make it as seamless as possible.
Note: You still have to wait up to 2 months before you decide to cover up the blowout with another tattoo. Even though the tattoo blowout seems like a major issue that requires an immediate repair, you still need to let the tattoo heal completely before getting inked in the same spot again.
- Laser Correction
Laser correction might be on the pricier side, but it is one of the most effective ways to fix the blowout and finally leave you with the tattoo the way it was supposed to be. The so-called Q-switched lasers are designed to send out ink-diffusing energy beams into the deeper layers of the skin, removing any excess ink remaining from the blowout.
This method will be exceptionally effective in fading blowouts, but might not work in every blowout case. Moreover, it takes several laser correction sessions to get the desired results, and in some cases, even more, depending on the way the laser interacts with the ink. Also, as we’ve mentioned, laser correction can be rather costly; you can expect to pay up to $500 per session/treatment, and the majority of insurance companies do not cover these types of cosmetic procedures.
- Surgical Tattoo Removal
Surgical tattoo removal is only applied in serious cases of a tattoo blowout. This is an incredibly invasive method to correct or get rid of a blowout, that is why it only serves as the very last option. The procedure comprises of your tattooed skin being cut out, and the remaining skin being stitched together.
But, not only is the procedure invasive, but it is also incredibly costly since most insurance companies do not cover these types of cosmetic or aesthetic procedures. We surely do not recommend this procedure, since it does carry a lot of negative effects as well. The effects include scarring, prolonged healing time, and general discomfort since you’ll end up with a wound instead of a tattoo, especially if the blowout was big and spread out.
5. How Can You prevent a Tattoo Blowout?
- Choose a professional tattoo artist – tattoo blowouts are generally the result of the artist’s lack of experience and bad work. So, if you want to prevent a blowout, go with a highly professional and experienced tattoo artist. The artist should be licensed and have a clean, sanitized shop and equipment. Sure, you’ll probably pay more for a tattoo done by such a professional, but it will be cheaper than dealing with a blowout for sure.
- Choose the proper body placement – getting a tattoo in an area where the skin is thin increases the risk of a blowout. The thinner the skin, the easier it is to penetrate too deep into the skin and ink beneath the skin surface. That is why it is recommended to get tattoos in areas where the skin is thicker, as well as the fat layer. Such areas include upper thighs, calves, buttock area, abdomen area, etc.
- Do not scratch the tattooed area – right after you get a tattoo, avoid stretching and pulling the tattooed skin. Stretching and pulling can promote the spread of the ink beyond the tattoo lines, which can create the blowout effect. Moreover, it will also prolong the healing process and increase the risk of infection, especially if you touch the tattoo before hand washing.
Tattoo Healing: A Brief Insight
So, now that we’ve explained the phenomenon known as tattoo blowout, you are probably relieved. But, for good measure, we do have to explain the signs of tattoo healing, just so you know the exact difference between the blowout and the healing process.
1. Tattoo Healing Signs
- Bleeding, Swelling, and Inflammation – during the first few days, your tattoo is an open, fresh wound, and it will behave as such. There will be slight bleeding, oozing, swelling, and a little bit of inflammation. Even though these may not seem like healing signs, your body and skin are handling the skin damage in a process where things need to get worse to get better. Of course, if these signs prolong to a week or longer, you may experience a tattoo infection, which requires immediate medical attention.
- Itching, Scabbing, and Tenderness – now, these are the real signs the tattoo is healing. The tattooed area is incredibly itching, there’s scabbing, and of course, the area is tender. At this point, your aftercare routine needs to step up, so make sure you wash the tattoo, moisturize it and do all of that after washing your hands. Make sure not to scratch the itch, peel, or pick on the tattoo. That will only prolong the healing process.
- Drying Out – at this point, it’s been several weeks and your tattoo is starting to dry out. This means that the scabs are falling off, the skin isn’t itchy and the area is mildly tender. You’re starting to see your actual tattoo, and the newly formed skin is making it vivid and fabulous. Just make sure to continue with the aftercare, and make sure to cover the tattoo with sunscreen if you’re going out; sun exposure can make it dull and speed up the fading.
2. How Long Will The Tattoo Healing Take?
Well, tattoo healing depends on several things, for example;
- How thorough you are with the aftercare routine
- Whether you scratch and peel the tattoo
- Whether you’re eating properly and taking care of your health
- Whether you cover the tattoo and put on sunscreen to protect it from the sun
- Whether you wear loose clothes
- And finally, where the tattoo is located
But, taking into consideration all of these aspects, your tattoo should be healed in one to two months (on the surface of the skin), and up to six months (completely and in-depth). However, proper aftercare and nutrition may speed up the healing process, so make sure to take care of the tattooed area, and yourself of course.
3. Can I Mistake Healing For A Tattoo Blowout?
Having compared tattoo blowout and the healing signs, we can say that it would be very hard to mistake one for the other. A tattoo blowout and the tattoo simply healing are two very different things, which manifest differently and occur for different reasons. If you’re still confused, here’s how you can differentiate between a blowout and the healing signs;
- Not a health danger
- Can be fixed with laser correction or tattooing over
- Doesn’t hurt or cause inflammations
- Is a result of the tattoo artist’s mistake or lack of experience
- When proper, is not a health danger
- When improper, can result in an infection
- Lasts for several weeks, up to 6 months
- Requires aftercare and proper tattoo handling
- Is a natural process
- Healing issues and infections are a result of one’s lack of aftercare
Tattoo blowouts aren’t that common, mostly because tattoo artists nowadays have to go through extensive training to get licensed. However, this is not a guarantee that you won’t experience a tattoo blowout. Either way, it can easily be fixed with laser correction, or you can cover it with another tattoo. Overall, tattoo blowouts are completely different from tattoo healing. So, we hope we’ve at least cleared that out.
Just remember; always go with highly professional tattoo artists, even if it means paying the extra money, if you want to avoid tattoo blowout. And, if you want your tattoo to heal properly, just take good care of it and leave it be; avoid scratching, picking, and peeling the tattoo. Otherwise, the healing process will last much longer.