What happens to a tattoo when you lose weight? You may notice that your tattoo design seems to “shrink” as you lose weight. This is a common misconception, and several factors must be considered for this to occur:
- The amount of ink originally deposited into your skin will determine the coverage you receive from the tattoo.
- If you have lost a significant amount of weight, you may need to visit your tattoo artist for a color boost (ink deposits can fade due to the natural aging process).
- The elasticity of your skin will determine how much coverage you receive from the tattoo.
If you follow these guidelines, the appearance of your tattoo should not change even if you lose or gain weight. The only way you might notice changes is if one day you compare old photos with new ones.
Listen to this post…
Losing weight does not cause tattoos to shrink! Weight loss has nothing to do with the healing process nor the actual placement of tattoos on various parts of our bodies. When we first get tattoos, they appear raised because that’s just how they heal – swollen and puffy. As we heal, the relevant ink settles into our skin and makes its permanent home.
No matter what you do to it after that – weight loss, weight gain, or even pregnancy – your tattoo will not shrink. The only thing that can cause a change in a tattoo is the natural aging process.
Permanent link stays put no matter what you weigh! Like most things associated with tattoos, people have misconceptions about whether or not their body art will disappear if they lose a great deal of weight.
Tattoos are permanent because they are created when color is inserted beneath your skin’s top layer by a needle puncturing the epidermis at high speeds while depositing pigment between dermal layers.
It does not matter how much you weigh; the larger tattoos pigment stays exactly where your artist placed it. With weight fluctuation or weight change after your tattoo is finished, the only impact is on your skin.
Skin naturally loses elasticity as people age, and depending on how much you weigh might affect how stretched out skin gets over time.
Loose skin or stretch marks do not allow tattoos to appear as crisp as tattoos on bordering tissue bordering less sagging skin. However, losing or gaining weight won’t make a tattoo disappear if it doesn’t fit under added layers of flab or fat!
Pregnancy has nothing to do with losing weight! Unfortunately, many people believe pregnancy can cause their tattoo(s) to fade away faster than normal because they begin to put on excess pounds. This misconception also ties into the belief that tattoos will “shrink” when you lose weight.
The truth is, your tattoo(s) are not going anywhere unless they’re altered by someone else, especially if it’s done painfully, like being scratched out or made unrecognizable with various colors of ink. Pregnancy does change one aspect of having a tattoo. However, the changes in hormone levels women tend to experience during pregnancy can cause skin pigmentations to become darker throughout the body.
Watch out for color boosts! Sometimes when people have lost a significant amount of weight, their tattoo artist might recommend receiving additional color deposits to restore their tattoos’ brightness and clarity.
If you’ve already received your initial tattoo and then lost lots of weight, your artist might apply a special color of dye to create the appearance that all of the ink has been restocked in the areas where you previously had it. Once this is done, it will make your tattoo look new again!
Don’t worry about losing weight and ruining your tattoos! Tattoos are meant to be permanent because they’re made with pigments that stay on our bodies for life. This means whether you gain or lose some weight over time won’t cause your body art to fade away into oblivion.
So if this happens while you’re dieting – don’t give up! All you need is some help from your favorite tattoo artist, and with a bit of tattooing, they can touch things up and restore your tattoo ink’s vibrancy, so it looks just like it did before your rapid weight loss!
Should I wait to lose weight before getting a tattoo?
We all have seen patients who come in with tattoos done in times of weight loss or gain. These tattoos change their shapes and colors when people take up/quit smoking, get pregnant/go through menopause, lose weight/gain muscle mass, basically body changes. Muscle gain is considered in another post here.
But why does that happen? When you get a tattoo, an artist injects ink into your dermis layer using a handheld machine. The tattoo ink is dispersed throughout the dermis, where it is absorbed by individual cells called macrophages. These cells transport the ink particles to other areas of the body through your lymphatic system.
This explains why most tattoos spread out over time – they are being transported by your white blood cells! The foreign pigment causes mild immune system irritations that trigger the lymphatic system to store excess ink, just like fat cells.
Once you lose weight by dietary intervention or bariatric surgery, white blood cells decrease substantially. This effect is most dramatic in obese patients losing weight with these procedures. As a result, tattoos are less dense and may fade over time, especially if they were done after massive weight loss.
What happens if you get a tattoo while fat then loses weight?
If you are overweight, your skin will sag. If you get a tattoo in the saggy parts of your skin while they are stretched out, it may stretch with the fat and end up looking distorted when the weight goes away. Tattoos aren’t cheap to have redone or removed, so lose weight before getting new ink if possible.
Do tattoos hurt less if you’re fat?
This is a myth. Fat doesn’t insulate the body from pain, so getting a tattoo will be just as excruciating even if you’re larger. In other words, please don’t get a tattoo because you think it’ll hurt less. It won’t.
Will my tattoo look different if I lose weight?
To determine what will happen when you lose weight, it is necessary to understand how a tattoo works. Tattoos are made from ink that sits just under the top layer of skin in your dermis. The ink particles in this area are so tiny that they absorb into the body’s cells and spread throughout the surrounding tissue. When a person gains or loses weight, their fat cells grow larger or shrink with no change in number.
However, as these fat cells expand and retract, they change shape through an adipokinesis process, which causes them to push against adjacent tissues and organs, causing them to shift position slightly due to the mass around them changing.
This means even though all of your fat is not going anywhere, the fat cells in your tattoo are constantly expanding and retracting, causing them to move around just enough that the ink they carry is spread out unevenly over the surrounding tissue. The result is a patchy or blurred appearance to your tattoo.
If you were losing weight, when you reach your goal weight, there would be minor swelling of fat cells in each area, along with an increase in cell turnover. This means when new skin cells are produced under the surface, old skin layers are shed rapidly- typically about once every 28 days.
Over time, wrinkle tends to smooth out as well due to this increased turnover. This can lead to improved clarity in tattoos after a significant diet, and weight loss has occurred even years after it was applied! The key is patience and expecting it to take a long time (up to years) for the smaller tattoos’ color and evenness of tone to be completely restored.
Now, if you gained weight, your body would experience an increase in fatty cells that produce more fat, as their name says.
This means that since tattoos are carried by fat cells, they will get more extensive along with them making your tattoo appear heavier than before– not always a bad thing, though! When you lose this weight again, your tattoo should return to its original appearance within about six months.
One final point: How can I minimize the loss or gain of ink with weight variations? One tip that has been given is applying pressure on the skin around where the tattoo exists.
This exerts a force on the surface, creating more ink to push out against the surrounding tissue. Also, avoid sweating for 12-24 hours after getting a tattoo, as this will cause your pores to open, allowing ink to leak out of the layer it is sitting in.
You must follow the standard aftercare procedures to prevent infection, especially with sun exposure and UV rays to prevent sun damage.
If you are planning on losing weight or have recently lost weight and are noticing changes in the appearance of your tattoo, there is no need for concern. The increased movement of these fat cells causes blotches that can look alarming but represent the typical process your body goes through when trying to adapt to its new size!
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