Hate Your Tattoo? These Are Your Options

Getting a tattoo is just like any other stylistic choice of self-expression, albeit more permanent than most. Whether it's something meaningful or just something that you liked at the moment, there's always the chance that you change your mind later and decide you really don't like your tattoo anymore. It simply happens.


In a survey of 600 people, Advanced Dermatology found that about 36% of participants regretted their tattoo after several years, 21% regretted it after about a year, and 5% of people regretted it after only a couple of hours. The survey also found that the most regrettable spots on the body for tattoos were the upper back, upper arms, hips, face, and buttocks. Additionally, three out of four people surveyed regretted not spending more time planning their tattoos.

It may take you a few years or it may happen as soon as you finish a session, but luckily for you, whenever you come to the unfortunate realization that you hate your tattoo, you have a couple of options for dealing with it.

Get it removed via laser

The laser removal process works by breaking down ink pigments with a high-intensity light beam. Black is usually able to absorb laser wavelengths well, but some colors such as teal, aqua, or maroon may be a little bit more resistant. The number of treatments will depend on many things, including the depth of the ink, the color of your skin, the color of the ink, how old the tattoo is, and how big it is (via WebMD).


If this is the route you'd like to take, always make sure to find a reputable doctor, and consider asking them about the latest laser technology. New Pico lasers don't overheat the skin because they use sound waves. "They send energy (fire) at 1/1,000 of a second and this rapid firing allows them to break up tattoo pigment into smaller-sized tattoo pigment so that the body can clear it out," Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell told Byrdie. She described the feeling as rubber bands snapping against your skin.

According to WebMD, some of the risks involved include infection, scarring, hyperpigmentation, or hyperpigmentation. It is also important to note that the cost is usually not covered by insurance, and payment may be required upfront.


Get a new tattoo to cover it up

If the laser route sounds a tad too intense for you, and you're up for more cool art on your skin, a tattoo cover-up may be another option for you. According to Tattoos Wizard, a tattoo artist database, a cover-up is not simply drawing over an old tattoo. It's actually a specialized process because it requires mixing new colors with the existing ones. And while black ink is more easily absorbed through laser removal, it is often harder to cover up. You're also looking at your cover-up being 30-40% larger than your existing tattoo.


Professional tattoo artist Baris Yesilbas told Insider that it is important to choose a design that you will like and not just a design that will fit. "This is another mistake that people do. They want to get rid of the tattoo that they have and don't care about the new one," Yesilbas says. He recommends always consulting with a tattoo artist to fully understand your options.

Unfortunately, if neither of these options sounds good to you, you may just need to make peace with your design.