What To Do If You’re Not Happy With Your Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

If you aren’t happy with your tattoo, there are a handful of options available for you, thanks to technology and some talented artists. Many go for a cover-up tattoo to completely alter the original’s look. If all is lost, laser removal is a more expensive option.

The different options available to you come with different benefits and downsides, so it’s important that you consider all the below options before committing.

Points to Consider

Before you decide to scrap your tattoo, here are a couple of points to consider to better assess your situation:

  • Is your tattoo complete?
  • Has the tattoo healed?

Is Your Tattoo Complete?

Some tattoos take days, if not weeks, to reach completion. During this process, you can get a fairly good idea of the end product. Is everything going according to plan? If it isn’t, this is a good time to speak up and voice your concerns. 

If your tattoo artist can better understand what you have in mind, they can take the necessary actions to fix the situation. Don’t wait until your tattoo’s complete to begin critiquing your artist’s work.

Has it Healed Completely?

Getting a tattoo can be a messy and bloody affair, but the result can be stunning and empowering. If you just got your tattoo done and it doesn’t look as expected, be patient. Tattoos are literally wounds converted into art, and this process can appear unappealing at first glance.

What Can You Do?

Here are a few options available in case your plans of getting an awesome tattoo go south:

  • Get a refund
  • Pick the right artist this time
  • Laser treatment
  • Touch-up
  • Cover-up

Get a Refund

Getting a refund is possible if you have a justifiable complaint, but you might find the artist or studio will challenge you. You see, at the consultation, it’s up to you to relay the exact piece of work that you want. This could be designed by yourself or created from the artist’s stock selection.

If they’ve interpreted your design incorrectly, then you have more of a case for a refund. The counter to this is that they should’ve checked that you’re happy with the tattoo throughout the work being done. Even so, some artists will refrain from doing this as it can cause delays and frustration.

The chance of things going wrong is greater if the tattoo is large and complex. With this in mind, if you described what you wanted, the artist drew the design and you OK’d it, there’s not much you can do.

Not every tattoo comes out as well as expected

Also, don’t expect to get a refund if you walked away from the shop weeks ago. While you’re on-site, check the tattoo, and don’t be afraid to ask for any alterations there and then. This can prevent headaches and cost further down the line.

Pick the Right Artist This Time

A good artist will walk you through the entire process patiently, verifying your approval every step of the way.

If you’re looking for a tattoo artist to rework your tattoo, it probably means you were disappointed with the original artist’s work.

Make sure you spend a considerable amount of time narrowing down your artist this time. Perhaps the first appointment was rushed, so learn from your mistakes and do things differently the next time.

Laser Treatments

One of the most efficient but expensive methods to get rid of your tattoo for good is by employing lasers to blast it right out of your skin.

Opting for laser removal, though, shows that you have no interest in retaining any traces of your tattoo. If you do opt for laser treatment, it could take multiple sessions to remove your tattoo. In fact, this can take as long as getting your tattoo itself.

This method relies on using heat generated by the titular lasers, so the two major downsides to this option are that it can be expensive and painful. Most consider the laser to be far more intense than the drill of the tattoo artist.


If you’re partially unhappy with your tattoo and it’s more of a work-in-progress instead of being an absolute mess, you can always opt to get some touch-up work done. You can even go back to the original artist or go for someone more experienced or with different expertise.

Picking the right artist can be as important as picking your tattoo itself. If your tattoo needs some touch-up work, you’ve clearly erred in that regard, but there’s no shame in that. Just do some more research and find a tattoo artist who has had success in taking mediocre tattoos and converting them into great ones.

This process is quite renowned in the inner circle of tattoo artists and is mainstream enough to get its own show on the Travel and Living Channel. Thousands of people have had their tattoos blundered, and thousands more have gone to artists who’ve converted those blunders into absolute wonders.


Covering-up your tattoo, however, is a completely different ballgame and requires an artist with an entirely different set of skills. This scenario requires some radical brainstorming, and it’s a handy option when you’re stuck in two minds about either removing your tattoo or having it reworked.

A cover-up tattoo is usually a larger or more elaborate tattoo that’s cleverly imposed over your existing tattoo. This creates the illusion of a quality tattoo, all the while covering up the original. 

This requires some serious creativity and skill, though, so you might have to shell out some big bucks to make this happen. On the plus side, you get to walk away with a tattoo that you’re actually proud of, instead of those who walk away with nothing after laser removal.

There’s Still Hope

If you’ve taken a chance on an artist and it hasn’t paid off, you have plenty of alternatives to fix or even remove your tattoo.

Rather than going for the drastic removal, it’s at least worth consulting an artist to see if they can redesign your original or cover-up the one you regret. You can always revert to laser removal as a last resort.