Does Your Tattoo Need Touch-Up? – Everything You Need To Know

Once you get a tattoo, your tattoo journey will last forever. A tattoo is permanent body art that literally becomes a part of you. So, just like the rest of the body, you need to take care of it to keep it in good shape over the years.

Many think that once their tattoo has healed, they are done with it. However, just like the skin, the tattoo also changes due to external or internal factors. Perhaps the tattoo will fade due to sun exposure, or it might lose pigmentation or shape due to skin condition, or even just due to aging of the skin. Tattoos are subject to change and decay like anything else in our body.

This is why one may need to touch up his tattoo(s) once or twice in the lifetime of the tattoo. But, how do you know that your tattoo really needs fixing and improving?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll discuss the signs that your tattoo needs tweaking and touch-ups, as well as other important aspects of tattoo touch-ups that every tattoo lover should know.

Tattoo touch-up: when is it necessary?

Tattoo touch-up when is it necessary
Credit: Instagram

Quick overview

  • The tattoo has lost the original color and pigment
  • The tattoo is placed in a high friction, stretchy and sweat prone area
  • The tattoo was infected
  • The ink was placed too deep in the skin, so it spread
  • The tattoo is old

The tattoo fades

If you have noticed that your tattoo has lost its original color, vibrancy and luminosity, chances are it has started to fade or has already faded considerably. This is usually a fairly simple sign that your tattoo needs a touch up.

In the case of a faded tattoo, your tattoo artist will likely use the same ink pigment in the most affected areas of the tattoo, to lighten it up. This does not mean that they will redo the whole tattoo, just the most discolored parts. A few touch-ups will be enough to restore your tattoo to its initial liveliness and luminosity.

To prevent such severe discoloration, you can make sure to apply sunscreen whenever the tattoo is exposed to the sun or UV rays. You can also care for the tattoo by keeping it moisturized with a mild lotion, or just keeping yourself healthy and hydrated.

The tattoo has a specific body placement

When a tattoo is placed on the body where there is a lot of friction and perspiration, chances are it will start to lose the original pigment and shape.

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For example, if a tattoo is placed on the hand, ankle, foot, inner thigh, and other visible areas that are subject to rubbing, stretching, and perspiration, it will lose its original shape, its liveliness, lines, and overall pigment.

The reason for this is that tattoos do not like excessive friction, humidity and stretching of the skin. With all these “body changes”, the tattoo also reacts by changing. It is simply unavoidable. But, by touching up the tattoo(s), you can bring back the luster of the ink or the shape of the tattoo.

Even after a touch-up, however, you can expect the tattoo to look fresh for a bit longer, but if not taken care of properly it will start to lose its luminosity and shape again. . So be sure to apply sunscreen, keep the tattoo clean (especially when sweating), and wear loose clothing to avoid contact chafing.

tattoo touch up before and after
Credit: Instagram

The tattoo has been infected

It’s no lie that people tend to get tattoo infections for a number of reasons. Whether it’s contaminated tattoo equipment or touching and peeling the tattoo while it was healing, tattoo infection can occur any time pathogens are introduced to it in the healing stage.

Tattoo infections are painful and strongly affect the tattooed skin. The skin becomes swollen, red, sometimes it even starts to bleed and ooze ink, so you can imagine the damage all this can have on the tattoo itself.

Fortunately, infections can be treated and they usually don’t get worse with antibiotics and an immediate reaction. But, what happens after the leftover tattoo has healed.

Chances are, you’re an ideal candidate for a tattoo touch-up. However, before the actual touch-up, you should speak to a dermatologist to see if your skin can handle the tattoo needle and get advice on how to prevent the tattoo from getting infected again.

Tattoo Blowout and ink diffusion

When the tattoo is done correctly, the ink is placed in the layer of skin known as the dermis. However, when a tattoo is done by an amateur, not a professional tattoo artist, the ink is usually placed deeper into the layers of the skin, where it cannot stay in place.

As a result, during the healing process, the ink has spilled beyond the tattoo lines, giving it a messed up look. This is known as a tattoo blowout.

Luckily, a touch-up can fix a blowout by adding a new design and extending the lines of the tattoo. In many cases, a tattoo blowout can be repaired by partially discoloring the tattoo or even covering up the tattoo. But, if you don’t want to be extreme with your tattoo, a simple touch up could make it look cleaner.

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Be sure to have your touch-up done by a professional, experienced and reliable tattoo artist.

The tattoo is quite old

Tattoos are known to change with age quite significantly. Some tattoos begin to change after several years, while others change as you enter old age when the skin begins to lose elasticity and stretches.

Tattoo aging is completely normal and usually unavoidable. Of course, there are ways to prevent tattoo aging from happening too soon, but at some point the power of time will simply win out.

However, tattoo touch-ups are not impossible even in this situation. Although much more difficult to perform on aging skin, touch-ups can be done properly by a professional tattoo artist who knows how to work around skin texture and stretched skin.

It would be best to find the original tattoo artist who inked you, but in many cases that’s usually not possible. Considering how many years have passed, a lot could have happened with your tattoo artist. So ask around and just find a new professional and experienced tattoo artist. Discuss your editing options and see what can be done.

Tattoo retouching: more FAQs

Before and after women tattoo touch up
Credit: Instagram

Is tattoo retouching expensive?

If you can get the tattoo touch-up done at the original tattoo artist, you can get it for free. The reason is that every tattoo artist guarantees their work.

But don’t go into this thinking people won’t charge for their work if it requires more than initially thought. If the alterations are demanding and difficult to execute, you can expect the price to skyrocket. Also, if the touch-up is done by a new tattoo artist, you can expect to pay for the service.

The price for tattoo touch-ups starts at $50 for a small tattoo and increases depending on the size and severity of the touch-up.

How long can I wait before a tattoo touch-up?

Depending on the situation, you can get your first tattoo touch-up between 6 and 12 months after getting a new tattoo. Your tattoo can only be touched up when it is completely healed. In case of infection or injury, you may have to wait more than 12 months for the skin to fully regenerate and the body to restore the immune system.

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Other than that, you can get your first touch up between 2 and 5 years after getting a tattoo. For the brighter tattoos or the odd tattoos, the period you can opt for a touch up is surely 5 years. For black or dark tattoos, the period would be longer, depending on how you took care of your ink.

Do the edits hurt?

Well, the touch up process is the same as the regular tattoo process. So, depending on the number of touch-ups needed and the location of the tattoo, you might experience moderate to severe pain. But, no touch-up will be completely painless, unfortunately.

But, it also varies from person to person. Some people tend to experience much less pain compared to the actual tattoo, while others experience much more pain during the touch-up session.

The most painful touch-up areas are the knees, elbows, ribs/ribcage, feet, inner thighs, head, face, etc. Generally, areas of the body with thinner skin and more nerve endings tend to hurt the most.

Do touch-ups heal like a regular tattoo?

Yes! Touch-ups heal just like a tattoo and require the same aftercare. The ink is still penetrated into your skin with a tattoo needle, so the touch-up process is basically the same as for a regular tattoo.

Touch-ups are usually only done on small portions of a tattoo, so some people may experience “faster healing”. In effect, a smaller surface area was affected, so the body handled the healing better. But, generally, the process of touch-ups requires the same process as a regular tattoo.

Final Thoughts

Tattoo touch-ups are a quick way to restore your tattoo to its original shine and shine. It is also a great way to hide and correct small mistakes and mishaps on the tattoo. Touch-up can be performed on fully healed tattoos, whenever desired. For more information on tattoo touch-ups, be sure to talk to your tattoo artist and see what your options are.

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