Are you trying to decide whether you should cover up an old or bad tattoo with something different, or just call it quits altogether and opt for laser tattoo removal? Both options may solve your problem, but will come with different expenses, and of course outcomes. Take a look at both roads so you can best determine your route of travel.

Cover-Up Tattoos

Cover-up tattoos are designed to mask old tattoos by applying a new image over the old one. Most tattoo artists have performed or been asked to perform a cover-up tattoo on one or more of their customers, but it’s not always as simple as just inking out the new design. The success of a cover-up tattoo depends largely on the type of image it’s meant to replace and the skill of the artist. A light-colored tattoo is going to be easier to cover than a very dark one, and some tattoo artists will suggest that dark tattoos be treated with laser fading procedures before the cover-up is applied.


Often, thick bands of black are used for the coverup tattoo, but this isn’t always the best option, as color variations can sometimes be seen in the coverup, with old ink mixing with new pigment to produce uneven results. The scar lines from the original tattoo can sometimes also cause problems with the new image. In order to produce the best coverup tattoos (one’s which don’t look like coverups, but rather a brand new work), it may be best to find an artist who has a lot of experience with this kind of tattooing and knows how to blend a new image into the old one, takes your skin and texture into consideration, and won’t just apply a dark smear which may end up far larger than the original tattoo.

Covering Up a Tattoo

Reality television has really popularized the art of covering up a tattoo with new custom designs.

Most people opting for a cover-up tattoo do so because 1) The first time around they selected either a risky tattoo idea, such as a lover’s name or their portrait, or 2) They failed to select a meaningful and important tattoo design, and find the overall tattoo undesirable.

In less common situations, the first tattoo did not heal properly, or there were changes made to the shape or style as a result of weight fluctuations or other extremes.

If you opt for a new cover-up piece, finding the right artist for the job is an essential step. You’ll want to view the artist’s full portfolio, specifically any other cover-up pieces.

Bear in mind depending on the original size of your tattoo, you may need to go even larger for a cover-up tattoo design. If you aren’t happy with the original art placement, why add anything bigger in the exact same spot? It may make more sense to instead remove the tattoo and start fresh with a new design in a place that you’ll be happy wearing your new tattoo.

Laser Tattoo Removal

After considering cover-up options, or speaking with a skilled artist about the process, you may decide laser tattoo removal is the best choice for you.

Should you opt for this procedure, keep in mind most tattoos will require a minimum of four to six sessions for full completion.

This varies based on the amount of coloring in your tattoo (the color is actually harder to remove) and again how skilled your artist was the first time around. The better the tattoo, the more difficult it will be for laser removal, as the artist likely got the ink deep enough into the skin, thus being more permanent.

There are many rumors and myths about laser tattoo removal, one being that it is very painful. Those that have opted for the treatments have said it is more painful than getting a tattoo, but the process during each treatment is fairly quick, so don’t let that deter you if you are serious about removing it.

There is also the concern of permanent scarring, which is considered very low-risk, with an average of less than one percent. In addition, laser removal does not mean you can’t tattoo the same spot later, should you so decide to go at it again. Instead, you’ll just want to be extra careful in selecting an artist and ensure they are capable of working on scar tissue, as that will be the larger concern. Scar tissue is an uneven surface and can be difficult for an artist to work with, so heed their advice and concerns if you are in the process of inking over lasered tissue.

No matter what you decide, laser or cover-up tattoos, there are at least two suitable options for anyone unhappy with their current tattoo marks. Set aside some cash, book the appointments, and get ready to transform a bad design, into the skin you’re comfortable living in. You deserve it.

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