Getting a tattoo isn’t just a fun way to change your appearance and do something exciting. A tattoo becomes a part of your body and it is a piece of art that will last you a lifetime. Of course, unless you opt for laser removal, the tattoo will be there, permanently.
During the permanence time of your life, your body will not remain the same. Your skin will change, your muscles will grow or shrink, and your body will age. These are all the challenges your tattoos need to be able to withstand. But things are not that simple.
Muscle gain or muscle growth, for example, is a potential problem for people with tattoos. As muscles develop and skin stretches and expands, what exactly happens to tattoos on the body?
In the following paragraphs we will see what happens to tattoos once the muscles in your body begin to develop. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What happens to your skin when you build muscle?
It is a well-known fact that regular weight training and muscle growth contribute to firming skin. And, it is very true. However, this is true for people with sagging skin or loose skin resulting from extreme weight loss. In such cases, muscle fills in the area previously occupied by fatty tissue. As a result, we have a more toned and firmed skin and body.
But what happens when a person with tight and elastic skin starts lifting weights, for example. In such a case, weight training significantly increases muscle mass. As the muscles grow, they expand and stretch the skin to appear even tighter – that’s why bodybuilders experience cases of stretch marks, for example.
However, it is important to mention that our skin is an incredibly adaptable organ. The skin is elastic for this reason; adapt to certain bodily changes and be able to return to its previous state.
Remember that pregnancy is one thing; pregnant women experience significant skin stretching of the abdomen area, and after giving birth, the skin begins to gradually return to its former state; sometimes not completely, but even that could be managed with physical training and toning.
Why do we say this? Well, the stretch factor is essential for muscle growth. The skin’s elasticity allows it to adapt to changes in shape and muscle density. The same applies to the accumulation of fatty tissue; as the layers of fat grow, the skin stretches and adapts.
So what happens to your skin when you train and build muscle? it fits!
So what happens to your tattoos when you build muscle?
Since your tattoos are placed in the skin, the same will happen to your skin, and to the tattoos of course. If you gain muscle, your skin will start to stretch a bit, and so will tattoos.
However, contrary to popular belief, the stretching of the tattoo will not be noticeable. If your muscle growth is controlled, steady, and not extreme, your tattoos will only stretch and tighten until the skin has fully adapted to the new muscle shape and density.
The tattoo change into regular, natural muscle growth is not dramatic and in many cases not even noticeable and visible to the naked eye.
However, if you have started bodybuilding and lifting extreme weights, you can expect extreme skin stretching, muscle growth and tattoo changing effects. In extreme cases of muscle growth and weight gain, the skin can stretch so much that the tattoos begin to lose their original shine and change color. Tattoos can even start to fade.
However, these cases are extreme and rare, as mentioned. As long as your training is natural, regular and controlled, you will have no problem with your tattoos.
Do certain parts of the body change more or less with muscle growth?
Sure; certain parts of the body are more prone to more noticeable muscle growth and stretching of the skin. If you don’t have a tattoo yet and are considering getting one, keep in mind to avoid the following body parts due to greater stretching of the skin;
- The abdominal area – getting the abdomen area to change for the better is always difficult. For some reason, that six-pack is still so far away. So why worry about the stomach? Well, belly skin is one of the stretchiest in the body, especially in women. So, if you are planning to gain or lose weight, or become pregnant, avoid getting a stomach tattoo until you have achieved your goal.
- The shoulder and upper back area – when it comes to weightlifting and muscle growth, the shoulders and upper back are directly affected. The muscles in this area become much larger or more visible, which means there is more risk of stretching the skin. You may want to consider the size and design of a tattoo if you want to place it in this area.
Certain parts of the body are less prone to stretching the skin, so you can consider getting a tattoo;
- The sleeve area – even though there is not much room for creativity and big designs, the sleeve area is excellent for a tattoo. Even with muscle growth, weight gain or loss, the skin will change little. Sometimes the biceps area can be prone to sagging and stretching of the skin, but this can be fixed with a little toning.
- Thighs and calves – our legs carry some of the strongest muscles. So when you gain or build muscle, you need to know that it will be rock solid. But, to accompany such strong muscles, the skin is also thicker and more resistant in this region. So if you want to get a tattoo without worrying about it being affected by your changing body, try getting it on a thigh or calf. Because this area of the body is so resilient, chances are the tattoo will hurt less than expected.
But what if your tattoo starts changing with muscle growth?
As we mentioned, with rapid and extreme muscle growth, the skin will stretch and the tattoo will stretch with it. The tattoo may lose its original shape, liveliness, color and it may begin to fade more and more.
However, even in such a case, there is hope. It is possible to repair a stretched tattoo with a little professional touch-up.
Minor distortions of the tattoo, like discoloration, for example, can be easily corrected. But, if your tattoo has stretched beyond recognition, you might want to consider covering it up with a new tattoo.
This, of course, carries many risks in itself; the new tattoo will need to be larger than the current one, so if it’s placed somewhere with little room for creativity, you could be in trouble. Additionally, the new tattoo design will also need to be denser and darker, so keep that in mind as well.
Will tattoos change if you lose muscle?
It may seem that weight loss and muscle loss have a greater impact on the skin than muscle growth. When it comes to major weight loss, people often end up with stretchy, sagging skin that sometimes struggles to return to its old shape.
In such cases, training and muscle building are necessary. Toning exercises can help muscles grow and fill in the space previously occupied by fatty tissue.
But what about tattoos?
When you lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, chances are your tattoos will change the original look. There may be a stretching and fading issue, as well as detailed visibility issues.
Unless you are building muscle and doing a toning workout, a tattoo artist can do little or nothing about the tattoo(s). It’s too difficult to work with sagging, stretchy skin unless there’s a developed muscle underneath to act as firm support.
If you don’t have a tattoo, but are planning to lose weight, just wait until you reach your goal to get a tattoo. This way you will avoid any major changes to the tattoo.
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The Takeaway Final
Here is a summary of everything you need to know about muscle growth and tattoos;
- The only thing you have to do is build muscle steadily, naturally (without steroids) and without going to extremes.
- The tattoos are in the skin (in the dermis layer of the skin) so they fit the muscles that grow with the skin
- The skin is very resistant and adapts to the natural and regular changes of the body
- Extreme weight/muscle gain/loss will affect and change the appearance of your tattoos
- Don’t get a tattoo if you plan to gain or lose weight/muscle mass
- Avoid getting tattooed in areas where the skin tends to stretch
For more information on tattoos, skin and body changes, be sure to speak with a professional tattoo artist and medical professional. These people will provide you with more detailed first-hand insight.
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