Hey, good lookin’! Slimming down? Bulking up? Fluctuating? Everything you got going on is normal. Hear that first. We also hear you though — the reality of gravity and body changes can have real effects on your body art, and HUSH is here to chat about what happens to your tattoos with weight loss and weight gain alike.
Do Tattoos Change When You Lose or Gain Weight?
They can, yeah! How a tattoo changes depends on a few things — the tattoo’s size, the amount of change with your body, and the placement of the tattoo can all be factors. In our experience here at HUSH, we typically don’t see a big change. Big tattoo change or distortion happens when you put on or lose a lot of weight and your skin doesn’t have a normal response time. It has to be drastic loss or gain in a very, very short amount of time. We’re talking gaining or losing like 50+ pounds in the span of just a few months, which only usually happens with surgery or pregnancy. The way your tattoos change is also going to depend on if you are losing or gaining weight.
How Do Tattoos Change With Weight Loss?
When you lose weight, you are basically shrinking your skin. Gradual weight loss doesn’t typically affect the look of the skin. More rapid and drastic weight loss may cause the skin to look loose and wrinkly, and your tattoos are going to follow suit with your skin. Here are a few ways your tattoos could possibly change when you lose weight:
Your tattoo might move around a bit during weight loss. If your skin gets a bit loose during your weight loss, your tattoo might shift. If you are losing weight while also toning or building muscle, then your tattoo might find itself sculpted to your body in a different way. It’s hard to predict exactly how a tattoo might move, but if your weight loss isn’t drastic – it probably won’t be that much of a difference.
When you loose weight and your skin changes, so does the clarity of your tattoo. Bold, straight lines might get a little less bold and straight. The color might also change depending on how your skin shrinks or moves.
Losing weight means shrinking the amount of fat in your body. In the process of doing that, the skin has less fat to cover and can become loose and even wrinkly. Your skin can become less elastic and doesn’t immediately snap back into place. Same principle as before: Your tattoos are going to look however your skin looks. So, if you catch some wrinkles, your tattoo will as well.
How Do Tattoos Change With Weight Gain?
When you gain weight, your skin stretches to cover more surface area. You might be bulking up in the gym, chucking on that winter weight, or developing a literal human being in your tummy (¡Felicidades!).Either way, your skin is going to stretch. Again, we’ll mention that most skin changes happen when you are gaining a drastic amount of weight or your weight gain happens fast.
The same way a tattoo would move when the skin shifts for weight loss, a tattoo is going to move with the skin when it stretches for weight gain. If you are doing arm-day every day in the gym and your biceps are popping, your tattoo that was originally smack-dab in the middle might sit more on the side now.
Tattoo fading is a natural part of having a tattoo. There are many causes for it. When you gain weight and your skin has to stretch to cover that extra area, your tattoo pigmentation may also get spaced out a bit. It could cause the tattoo to look lighter or faded out just a bit.
Depending on the amount of your weight change, the size of your tattoo might change. If a pregnant person has a tattoo on their belly, that belly is going to grow and the tattoo will stretch out over the expanded skin, appearing bigger.
Should You Wait Until You Lose Weight To Get a Tattoo?
That honestly just depends on what your plan is. Are you hitting the gym and planning on losing weight in general? Or do you want a tattoo in a certain spot but it’s a little jiggly right now? Or maybe you have a surgery coming up and it might be best to practice patience? Small tattoo will be less at risk for changing due to weight loss. As will tattoos in certain areas. It also depends on how you’re losing that weight. If you are holding off getting tatted because you are feeling like you’ve got a little more to love on you lately – then let us tell you there ain’t no such thing as too juicy! We’re just saying — if it’s a self-esteem thing, just go for it and get that body art. We’ve been there and nothing makes us feel better than decorating our “more to love” handles. That said, if you’ve been feeling really disciplined and you’re on-schedule to shed some pounds and hit that goal in the near future – then yeah, why not wait until you’re rocking steady to get your next tattoo. We can’t give you a definitive yes or no to this tough question, but hopefully with the other information we’ve given you, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
How Do You Prevent Tattoo Distortion From Weight Change?
If we are talking tattoo distortion due to weight loss, it is less likey to happen than the placement moving. True tattoo distortion only really happens when you experience extreme weight change. Are you slimming down and want to do your best to protect your tattoos from distortion? Try not to shed those pounds too fast, champ. If you can, add in some muscle toning and you’ll have a happier tattoo.
What Is the Best Tattoo Placement for Weight Loss?
If you foresee some body weight fluctuation in your future and want to plan your tattoo placement accordingly – some other folks ahead of you have figured out the best places for tattoos. Forearms, upper torso, lower legs, feet, hands, upper back are generally less affected by weight loss body changes. So, these are great spots for your next tattoo, especially if you want to get a bigger piece. If your tattoo is going to be on the smaller side, you have a bit more flexibility with placement. A smaller tattoo won’t change as much as a larger tattoo would. Ultimately you know your body best. What part of your body tends to change the most during weight fluctuation? Avoid those areas for tattoos and get totally inked on the other areas!
My Tattoo Changed Due to Weight Fluctuation, What Now?
You have a few options to consider if your tattoo has changed due to weight fluctuation.
View your tattoo as a piece of time-based art and appreciate it as such! We all fluctuate, age, change, sag, wrinkle, and grow. Your tattoo is just another example of that. You can use our amazing CBD healing balm, >Sana Sana, to help protect new tattoos and rejuvenate existing ones at any age.
Touch It Up
You might be able to get an artist to touch up your tattoo to add more definition or clarity. You might have to go full renovation and create a new version of an old tattoo. You could also cover some of it up or add some detailing on to make it look cleaner.
If it’s really causing you to hate your body, you should consider tattoo removal. If you can’t or don’t want to cover it up, then removal might be the next best option. Life is too short to waste hating something you have the power to change.
Taking Care of Your Tattoo
You know what you should be more worried about? Your tattoo healing correctly. We see inifinitely more crappy tattoos as a result of poor aftercare than distorting because of weight change. If you don’t take care of your tattoo from the very beginning, it will be more susceptible to bodily changes. Tattoo aftercare should continue into a lifelong care practice, which will also help you if and when you do see some weight fluctuation. Read our write-up about tattoo care here. We want you moisturized, sun-protected, and well-healed, constantemente!
Our bodies are always changing our entire lives, and that’s nothing to feel weird about. Our skin is a big factor in that and a big factor in tattoos. Whether you are gaining or losing weight, you should know how that can affect your tattoos and prepare for it. We’ve heard many stories about the way people’s tattoos have changed — some in a fun way, some for the better, and sure, some for the worse. That’s part of the deal with the whole permanence thing. Take care of your skin and body the best you can, and that’s the best you can do! That said, using the right tattoo skincare can be a big help with that 😉 Sources: Skin: Layers, Structure and Function | Cleveland ClinicTattoos: Understand risks and precautions | Mayo Clinic Tattoos and Weight Loss: Everything You Need to Know | Joby Dorr