Tattoo Blowout: What It Is and What You Can Do About It (2024)

By far, one of the most frustrating and disappointing things than can happen when you get new ink is tattoo blowout. If you're unfamiliar, tattoo blowout is when a tattoo appears blurry—and unfortunately, cannot be fixed. However, it can be prevented. Below, we talked with experts on what tattoo blowout is and how you can make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Meet the Expert

What Is Tattoo Blowout?

If you’ve recently gotten a tattoo, but it appears blurry and smudged during and after the healing process, you may be experiencing tattoo blowout.

“A blowout is when a tattoo expands below the skin layer when it hits fat [and] veins or when scarring occurs,” says Crys. “It is easily identified by the blurring effect on the surface of the tattoo.”

Though tattoo blowout doesn’t mean your ink is infected, it can cause scarring and unwanted ink spread in the surrounding area.

“While tattoos can cause infections or allergic reaction, tattoo blowout is not related to infection,” says Campbell. “When the instruments or pigment used to make the tattoo contain infectious organisms, infection can result. Allergic reactions can occur to tattoo pigment, particularly red tattoo pigment.”

How Does Tattoo Blowout Happen?

While tattoo blowout can occur due to poorly executed aftercare, it’s more likely to happen due to a tattoo being inked incorrectly from the beginning. A tattoo is created when ink is injected below the dermis layer of skin and into the epidermis, and blowout is a sign that the ink has gone past the epidermis into the hypodermis, “where veins, fat,and spider veins reside,” says Crys. Essentially, the artist messes something up in the process, causing more trauma to your skin than necessary and the ink to extend past the expected lines of the design.

“[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,” says Nesheva. “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.”

How Tattoo Blowout Can Be Fixed

Unfortunately, once blowout occurs, there’s nothing you can do to reverse it. In order to “fix” the blurry ink, you can try to correct it with additional tattooing. This may mean getting a full cover-up tattoo that covers the old, messed-up design, but it could also mean finding a tattoo artist who can work with the fuzzy and over-blown lines to simply clean up the ink. Either way, it’s imperative that you choose a new, experienced artist to work with who can easily navigate your traumatized skin to make it look much better.

If you decide to go this route, note that you’ll have to wait until the original tattoo is fully healed before getting another one. This may mean living with a blown-out tattoo for two weeks, if not longer. You’ll also have to opt for a tattoo that’s larger and darker than the original, so work with your new artist to create a design you’ll love, despite the new restrictions.

Another way to handle tattoo blowout is with lasers. “You can treat blowout with lasers used to remove tattoos, which include [the] Q-Switched:ND:YAG laser or picosecond lasers like [the] PicoWay system,” says dermatologist Caren Campbell.

These types of lasers are used in tattoo removal, but can also be used to specifically target parts of a tattoo that have been blown out. Over the course of a few sessions, you can effectively erase the blurry parts of a tattoo to create the crisp design you originally wanted.

If you’d rather not worry about being precise, you can always fix tattoo blowout by getting the design fully removed with lasers.

How to Prevent Tattoo Blowout

The bottom line is that tattoo blowout happens when you get inked by an inexperienced or unprofessional artist. The easiest way to prevent it, says Campbell, is by “seeing an experienced tattoo artist who understands where to place the tattoo pigment.”

Doing research to find an experienced tattoo artist is good for more than just making sure you like their aesthetic—it also helps prevent future issues with your ink, like tattoo blowout.

“[It’s] extremely crucial to zoom in to their work and photograph their work to see every detail of a tattoo and the sharpness of their tattoo lines,” says Nesheva. “Additionally, always ask an artist to show [you] their healed work [from] their previous clients.”

Once you’re sure you’ve found a professional tattoo artist, the next best way to prevent blowout is to follow aftercare directions closely and pay attention to your ink during the healing process. Make sure you’re cleaning your tattoo twice a day and keeping it moist until it’s fully healed, at least two weeks. It’s also important to avoid scratching the area, according to Nesheva.

“Avoid stretching and pulling the tattooed skin,” says Nesheva. “Stretching and pulling can promote spreading of the ink beyond 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 ... washing [your hands].”

It may also be helpful to pay attention to the placement of your tattoo. Spots where the skin is thinner, like the inside of the elbow or the top of the foot, are more susceptible to blowout, as it takes a gentler touch from your artist. If you’re worried about the possibility of a blurry tattoo, consider placing the design somewhere with thicker skin.

The Final Takeaway

Tattoo blowout isn’t a fun thing to happen to a fresh piece of ink—it can mess up your design and ruin an otherwise perfect tattoo. The best way to stop blowout from happening is to act preventively and find an artist who has a vast portfolio of work with crisp lines. On the flip side, if tattoo blowout still happens, despite finding a good artist, use the time during the healing period to figure out your next course of action: getting a cover-up tattoo or lasering the blowout away.

“Blowouts are prevented on the artist's end,” says Crys. “Do your research and ask for [a portfolio of the] artist's fully healed tattoos. And no matter what, take care of your tattoo!”

9 Expert-Approved Ways to Care For Your Tattoo

Tattoo Blowout: What It Is and What You Can Do About It (2024)


Tattoo Blowout: What It Is and What You Can Do About It? ›

A tattoo blowout can occur when a tattoo artist injects ink too deeply into your skin beyond the top layer and into the fat below. In this fat layer, ink moves beyond the lines of your tattoo. This creates a distorted image. Luckily, a tattoo blowout isn't a serious problem that can harm your health.

Can you do anything about tattoo blowout? ›

Once your skin is all healed, two options lay in front of you to fix the tattoo blowout. You could cover the ink blowout with a tattoo cover up. But beware that if a serious blowout occurred, this option means not only changing your original tattoo design, but also its size and color.

How much does it cost to fix a blowout tattoo? ›

Tattoo Blowout Removal Options:

More Tattooing: One of the most cost-effective tattoo blowout fixes (for between $100 and $500) is to get more tattooing once your original piece is fully healed—up to three months after the original tattoo. This can help cover up the mistakes, as long as the blowout isn't too severe.

What to do if your tattoo artist messed up? ›

Tattoo artists, like other professionals, owe their clients a duty of care. You can sue a tattoo artist—and the shop where the artist works—over an infection, injury, or unsatisfactory work. Tattoo artists and shops can defend themselves against potential lawsuits by having clients sign a waiver.

Is it normal for my tattoo to look smudged under the wrap? ›

While you're wearing the second-skin, you might notice the surface underneath accumulating slight moisture, which can make the tattoo look blurry. This is plasma building up from your skin and pulling up micro fragments of ink – it's a completely normal part of the healing process.

How long do tattoo blowouts take to appear? ›

You'll know you're experiencing a tattoo blowout within several days of getting a new tattoo. Some people experience mild blowouts, while in other cases, blowouts are more extreme.

Does over moisturizing a tattoo cause blowout? ›

Over-moisturising can lead to inflamed tattoos and potentially infection. Excess moisture can clog your skin's pores which prevents it from breathing, something that's important for your skin to heal. This can lead to breakouts on the skin that can damage the tattoo.

How to get rid of a tattoo blowout? ›

In order to “fix” the blurry ink, you can try to correct it with additional tattooing. This may mean getting a full cover-up tattoo that covers the old, messed-up design, but it could also mean finding a tattoo artist who can work with the fuzzy and over-blown lines to simply clean up the ink.

Who is at fault for a tattoo blowout? ›

This is primarily attributed to poor injection techniques by the tattoo artist. However, it's not solely limited to inexperienced artists. Even those who neglect some fundamental aspects of the technique can inadvertently cause a blowout.

What does a tattoo blowout look like while healing? ›

A blowout is usually described as “fuzzy” or “blurry.” It might even look like there's a puddle of ink in the wrong place, or that the tattoo is “bleeding” into the skin around a new tattoo.

Can you sue a tattoo artist for a blowout? ›

Generally, you can sue a tattoo artist or parlor if you have been subjected to injury or unsatisfactory work. The legal ground for what you can truly sue for may vary from case to case, however. For example, an injury or infection is more than likely going to be a solid case in a legal sense.

Is it rude to ask a tattoo artist to fix a tattoo? ›

It's your right to have it look exactly how you want it. So feel free to request a redo or second session from a different tattoo artist than the one you initially contracted to work with. In addition, many people assume it's rude or unprofessional to ask an artist to finish someone else's design.

Can you sue for a botched tattoo? ›

If the tattoo artist was negligent in some way, such as using unsterilized equipment or failing to follow proper safety procedures, you may have a claim to pursue compensation for your injuries.

Will a tattoo blowout fade? ›

Sadly, the answer is no, tattoo blowout will not go away on its own. Tattoo pigment particles are too big for the body's immune system to process away, so the blowout will remain, as if it were intended to be there.

What causes a tattoo blowout? ›

Tattoo blowouts occur when the artist accidentally injects the tattoo ink too deep into the skin, causing the design to blur or spread out beyond its intended borders.

Are tattoo blowouts the artists fault? ›

This is primarily attributed to poor injection techniques by the tattoo artist. However, it's not solely limited to inexperienced artists. Even those who neglect some fundamental aspects of the technique can inadvertently cause a blowout.

Can you laser remove a blown out tattoo? ›

Answer: Laser Tattoo Removal

Yes, tattoo blowouts can be treated with the proper laser. To be sure what is best for you, see two or more board-certified providers in your area for a complete evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate and that it is safe for you to have treatment.

Can a badly healed tattoo be fixed? ›

The above badly healed tattoos can be fixed through retouching it again. However, it's hard to restore its original beauty. We keep track of all the tattoos done by us, try our best to make sure things are going well and tattoo care is followed.

What to do if ink falls out of a tattoo? ›

Peeling tattoos with missing ink aren't usually anything to worry about. It's normal for a tattoo to peel and lose a little bit of ink as your skin heals. Care for your tattoo diligently by keeping it clean, moisturized, dry, and out of the sun.

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