Picture it. You get your beautiful eagle tattoo done in ultra-thin lines and you’re super-stoked with it, until a day or so later, you see the edges are blurring and pretty soon your eagle looks like a Rorschach test ink blot and you want to cry real tears. It’s devastating to say the least, but unfortunately, it happens and there’s not much you can do about it.
It’s called a tattoo blowout and other than a nasty infection, it’s probably one of the worst things that can happen to a tattoo.
So why does it happen? Basically, it occurs when the ink goes too deep, beyond the top layer of skin (dermis) where it can be “controlled”, into the deeper, fatty layer (hypodermis) where it spreads. In other words, the needle poked too far. Yes, it can happen because the tattoo artist pressed too hard, but it can also happen simply because of the placement of the tattoo, for instance the inner elbow ditch, ribs or wrists, where the skin is much thinner than on, say, your thigh. Age also comes into it, so if you’re on the wiser side, your best bet would be to avoid the thin-skinned areas. Another reason for a blowout is because you move too much during the process. As hard as it might be, resist the temptation to fidget or use your phone while you’re getting your tattoo.
Once it’s happened, there’s not that much that can be done. You can have laser removal on the blurred bits, if your tattoo is big and it makes sense to do so (and you can afford it). You can go back to the artist and see if there’s a way to modify the tattoo and incorporate the blurry bits. Or you can accept it and move on with your life. If you notice a blowout just a few days after getting your tattoo, you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the tattoo to heal properly before getting a cover-up. It’s important to be really diligent with your tattoo aftercare routine to make sure your tattoo heals properly and quickly.
The truth is, tattooing isn’t an exact science, so the more tattoos you have, the higher the likelihood that you will experience a blowout at some point. To avoid it, make sure you get inked by a professional with plenty of experience and a good reputation, and choose a spot where the skin is thicker.
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