What to Do About a Messed up Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 01, 2022
    Last Updated: February 1, 2022

Getting a tattoo, whether it be for the first time or not, can fill you with both excitement and anxiety. After all, a tattoo is something we wear like a piece of art every day of our lives and can be incredibly meaningful and significant. So of course, it is natural to be disappointed if your finished tattoo turns out to be anything other than perfect.

But what about when the tattoo artist messes up your tattoo? Whether it’s a spelling mistake in your all-time favorite life quote or a design that looks like it was drawn by a third-grader, the last thing anyone wants is to be left with a bad tattoo!

So, if the worst happens, what should you do about a messed-up tattoo? Even better, how can you avoid a messed-up tattoo in the first place? Let’s take a look at your options.

What To Do If Your Tattoo Is Messed Up

If you have followed all of the above and after the healing process you are unhappy with your tattoo, you still have some options. First, you can always go back to the artist who did the work and discuss any issues you might have with them. They should be able to rework the design and replace it with another piece of art that better suits your needs.

If you have an old tattoo that is messed up through age or circumstances – like a tattoo after weight loss – then you can look to have a cover-up tattoo or you can go the route of surgical tattoo removal. However, you should be aware that more extreme options like laser removal can take up to 5-10 treatments and is an extremely painful process.

Allow Your Tattoo To Heal

In most cases, tattoos take anywhere from 1 – 3 weeks to fully heal. During the healing process, there may be some swelling, bruising, itching, redness, and minor discomfort. However, these symptoms usually subside within a few days and you shouldn’t feel pain or discomfort.

Prevention Is Better than Cure

The entire tattoo experience can be long and expensive, not to mention a painful process. Therefore, it is incredibly important to be satisfied with the end result as the last thing you want is to have to go through laser treatments or a cover-up tattoo. That’s why it is imperative to consider every aspect, which starts with the tattoo shop you choose to visit. 

Just like any other permanent procedure, you need to do your research beforehand. Using an experienced tattoo artist with reliable testimonials and an extensive portfolio can significantly lower the risk of things going wrong, especially if you are looking for a more intricate tattoo. 

If it’s your first time getting a tattoo, using a reputable tattoo parlor will also help to avoid other issues like poor aftercare.

Understand The Tattoo Process

Quite often, people can panic with their first tattoo thinking that the tattoo has not come out as they expected when really the process is not finished or the tattoo simply needs to heal. Therefore, it is important to understand exactly how the process works before jumping to conclusions. 

Take Your Time When Checking Tattoo Designs

The first part of the tattooing process is the design itself. If you are having a tattoo created from your own design, you will take that with you and the tattoo artist will use it to create a stencil to be placed onto your skin. This will also happen if the artist is creating your design, however, they will take time to sketch it beforehand.

Either way, take your time to assess the overall look of the design stencil once it has been put onto your skin. Remember, this is exactly what the artist will follow when tattooing the design. Therefore, it is important to ensure you are happy with the design itself, but also the placement on the skin, and check that nothing has smudged when it has been put into place. 

Don’t be afraid to critique the design or ask for it to be removed and replaced if you are not 100 percent happy with the alignment. This is something that will be on your body permanently, so be sure you are satisfied before you start.

How Tattooing Works

In a tattoo session, an artist will use a tattoo gun to penetrate the outer layers of skin with ink particles. This method allows the artist to create a detailed image on the surface of the skin.

The tattoo gun punctures the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute with a firm needle that goes up and down. With each puncture, the needle penetrates the skin by about a millimeter and drops a drop of insoluble ink into the skin.

Since Samuel O’Reilly invented the tattoo machine in the late 1800s, and since then, the tattoo gun we see today has stayed mostly unchanged. The autographic printer, an engraving machine designed by Thomas Edison, was the inspiration for O’Reilly’s design. The printer was invented by Edison to engrave hard surfaces. To enable the machine to drive the needle, O’Reilly updated Edison’s machine by changing the tube system and adjusting its rotary-driven electromagnetic oscillating unit.

Tattoos are typically done on areas such as the back, chest, and arms but there are many different types of tattoos including sleeve designs, tribal patterns, geometric shapes, and much more. However, no matter what type of tattoo you get, it takes anywhere from one week to three months for the ink to fully set into the skin. You may also need multiple sessions to complete the design.

During this time, you may notice some swelling around the area where the tattoo is being applied and then later, redness and bruising. Therefore, it is important not to judge the tattoo until it is fully healed.