What Is Tattoo Blowout And Can You Fix It?

Written by: Pete
Updated:

Tattoo blowout are two horrible words in the tattooing industry. It’s a result of unskilled and unprofessional tattooing. It can ruin what was once an exciting new tattoo experience, and the worst part is, you won’t even notice it’s occurred until a few days after you’ve left the shop.

So what is tattoo blowout, how does it happen, and can it be fixed? We’ve got all the answers for you.

What is Tattoo Blowout?

Tattoo blowout is the blurry or bled out result of inexperienced tattooing. Our skin has multiple layers, and when we get a tattoo, the ink is deposited into the lower region of our dermis.

If ink is deposited in our epidermis, it doesn’t stay put and just flakes away with the regenerated or dead skin - this causes faded or patchy tattoos. But tattoo blowout happens when an artist goes even deeper than the dermis and instead deposits the ink into the subcutaneous tissue, or, in layman’s terms, the fat that sits below your dermis.

layers of skin

Our fat is porous and uneven, containing many tissues and large blood cells, and it cannot hold the ink. Instead, the ink spreads out into all the little pockets, creating a blurry design around your once crisp tattoo.

As professional tattoo artist Holly Astral explains, “Human skin is made up of layers and when you’re tattooing what you’re trying to do is get all of the ink in an even layer underneath the skin. If you’re not putting ink deep enough into the skin the tattoo will kind of fall out and if you go in too heavy the tattoo will blow out.”

What Causes Tattoo Blowout?

All tattoo blowouts come down to an inexperienced tattoo artist, so you don’t need to blame your aftercare routine or having left the tattoo wrap on for too long. This is why it is essential to invest time (and money) into researching the ideal tattoo artist for your needs, who has experience not only working on diverse skin, but also working with your style and placement choice.

There are two major causes of tattoo blowout:

The Needle Was Inserted Too Deep or at the Wrong Angle

Ulyana Nesheva, a tattoo artist in the Ukraine explains, “[Blowout] could mean a tattoo artist applied a tattoo too deeply into the skin, [wasn’t] being attentive enough, or [didn’t ink it] at the recommended angle.”

If an artist presses too hard, doesn’t understand needle depth, or doesn’t know how to angle their tools, this causes the ink to be deposited into the deeper layers of skin, creating a blurred or smudged effect upon healing.

Tattoo is Being Drawn on Very Thin Skin

If you are choosing a placement that has very thin skin, such as fingers, feet, elbows, ankles, or behind your ear, for example, getting the depth of the needle just right becomes a much harder task. You need to select artists who have experience tattooing this region.

Not only will this make for a less painful experience in an already painful region, it will also ensure that you heal properly and without tattoo blowout. A novice may not know how to handle skin depth in these areas and that could present an issue. An inexperienced artist may also stretch and pull at the skin too much, causing uneven distribution of ink in some areas, resulting in further blowout.

What Does Tattoo Blowout Look Like?

Depending on the size and complexity of your design, as well as the region that was tattooed, tattoo blowout can appear very differently. In majority of cases, lines no longer appear crisp, there looks to be bruising around your tattoo (it’s actually the ink), or your tattoo looks blurry or smudged.

tattoo blowout example

The tattoo blowout is more noticeable at the bottom right of the tattoo.

Tattoo Blowout

The tattoo blowout is noticeable all around the text; it looks bruised.

severe tattoo blowout

Severe tattoo blowout and poor line work.

Blowout will not be noticeable at the time you leave the shop. Once the ink has had time to settle, you’ll begin to notice the blowout around day two, and certainly by the end of your first week.

Body Parts Prone to Tattoo Blowouts

Body parts with thin skin that are more difficult to tattoo are more prone to blowouts. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Fingers
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Lips
  • Elbows
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Behind the ear
  • Scalp or skull

Choosing a qualified artist with experience tattooing these areas will minimize the chance of blowout.

Can You Fix a Tattoo Blowout?

Tattoo blowout can be fixed but not in the way that a touch-up fixes a faded tattoo. There is nothing you can do to reverse the effects of blowout. The procedures required to fix tattoo blowout are far more intense and expensive.

Getting a Tattoo Correction - A Blastover

The most popular way to fix tattoo blowout is to get a blastover. A blastover is getting a completely new tattoo on and around your old tattoo in order to successfully hide the results of tattoo blowout.

This can only be done after the tattoo has had a significant amount of time to heal and it’s obviously an expensive option since you need to pay for a second larger or grander tattoo to successfully cover the errors of the first one. Your tattoo may need to be darker, larger, or more full than your first, so take that into consideration as well.

tattoo blowout exampletattoo after blastover

Before and after a blastover.

tattoo blowout beforetattoo blowout after cover up

Before and after, with a much larger and more colorful tattoo.

Laser Correction

Laser correction is a way to fix tattoo blowout, albeit a very expensive one. Laser correction can be used to blast around the tattoo in order to eliminate the blowout or make it look less noticeable, or can be used to erase the tattoo completely.

tattoo blowout before laster treatmenttattoo blowout after laser treatmentBefore and after laser treatment on the blowout region.

Of course, laser correction or removal is obviously very painful in addition to being expensive, so it’s important to keep this in mind. Check out our article, Tattoo Removal Pain - How Much Does It Hurt?

Surgical Tattoo Removal

The final way to correct tattoo blowout is through surgical tattoo removal, but this is a very painful and expensive medical procedure. It should only be considered as a last resort, because it requires skin grafting, which is difficult to heal.

How to Avoid Tattoo Blowout

Tattoo blowout can almost never be anticipated until after your tattoo has begun to heal, but the most surefire way to avoid tattoo blowout is to select a highly qualified, exceptionally trained, and experienced tattoo professional. In addition to this, you should try your best to sit as perfectly still during your entire tattoo session to prevent any error.

We always say that a good tattoo isn’t cheap and a cheap tattoo isn’t good; you are making an investment in a piece of art that will stay on your skin for forever, so you should ensure you are selecting someone who will create something that is worthy of that length of time. It’s far better to delay your tattoo while you save a bit more for a qualified professional than to rush to your friend’s basement and get tattooed from their at-home kit.

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoo blowout is probably one of the most disappointing things to witness to healing fresh ink, which is why it is important to research into who you are trusting your tattoo and whether they have experience tattooing the region you intend to get done. Don’t hesitate to ask an artist for more examples of their portfolio work, especially with the healed photos of their client’s art.

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