Tattoo Regret: Here’s What You Can Do About It And How To Deal With It

Written by: Pete

You could plan out your tattoo for days, weeks, months, or even years and still come out of the tattoo with regrets. Or perhaps a few years have passed and that girl’s name has now become a distant ex of the past. Whatever the reason, tattoo regrets happen but the mistake is not always as permanent and the cause is not always as lost as you may think.

How Common is Tattoo Regret?

According to, only 12% of people in the United States regret the decision to get their tattoo (not their tattoo design or placement in particular). In fact, the United States ranked third for the number of tattoo removal procedures.

Of course, no one can truly anticipate how or why tattoo regret occurs but there are a few common factors that people indicate as the reasons for their tattoo regret.


Maybe you got your tattoo from your friend when you were underage, you spelled a word in a sentence wrong, or perhaps you went to a shop on vacation but didn’t do your research. Whatever the reason, aesthetics is often the number one cause of tattoo regret. Tattoos change over time and what we once found beautiful may simply be a blurry mess ten years later.


We all have these super rad tattoo ideas when we are rebellious teenagers only to regret that tattoo as we enter adulthood. What may have resonated with us at 18 might not feel the same at 38.


Size might be a factor for regret as both “too big” or “too small”. Small tattoos generally distort and blur or need touch-ups down the line, while big tattoos become distracting and difficult to hide.


When you get into the “routine” of tattooing, you tend to start jumping on designs on a whim with the hopes of not missing out on that one-time chance to get your favorite artist’s flash. If you haven’t taken the time to truly think about this tattoo and whether it’s right for you, it could lead to regret.


Our bodies change over time and so does our comfort level with tattoos in certain regions. Location is especially a cause for regret if we enter into a career that asks us to hide our tattoos.


Whether it’s the name of your high school girlfriend or the dates of an anniversary you no longer celebrate, something you got out of peer pressure, or a stupid design you once thought was cool, tattoos can sometimes lose meaning for us as time passes. It’s normal to have regret when a tattoo no longer resonates.


In some instances, as our world changes and becomes more politically correct and social justice focused, some individuals may have a tattoo that represented something completely different at one point than it does in this day and age. As a non-tattoo example, First Nations people once used the swastika (going in the opposite direction) as a symbol within their designs. Due to the Nazi hijacking of this symbol, they’ve opted to remove it from their future works of textile and art.

What to Do About a Tattoo You Regret

The first thing you should do when you regret a tattoo is not panic! There are so many options out there for you to help you manage your problem.

Get a Touch-Up

Sometimes, all your tattoo needs is a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. A touch-up can sharpen lines, brighten up the colors of your tattoo, and bring out details that may have faded over time. Even if your original tattoo shop or artist no longer exists, many tattoo artists are willing to touch up the old work of others.

That being said, if you have any tattoo regret immediately after leaving your artist’s chair, you’ll have to wait a little for your touch-up. A tattoo needs at least a month to heal, but it’s always recommended that you give your skin two months before trying to tattoo over the same region, again. Be sure to discuss your disappointment with your artist who may offer suggestions on how to help make the situation better for you.

Get a Cover-Up or Blastover

A cover-up or a blastover is when you completely cover your original design with a brand new tattoo design. It’s an overhaul of the first mistake with a brand new piece. Many people who have dated and irrelevant tattoos choose this option with a brand new artist.

Of course, it must be considered that your new design will have to be bigger and more intricate in color and design in order to cover the original tattoo effectively. If this is something you want to consider, find a tattoo artist who specializes in cover-ups and they will help design something with you that works best.

Use Makeup

There are so many impressive tattoo cover-up makeups on the market today that if you just need to hide it for a few events or occasions, you should consider tattoo makeup.

Tattoo Removal

Believe it or not, tattoo removal is far more common than you think and it’s actually less painful than the tattooing experience itself. Like any medical procedure, it does come with side effects you should be aware of, such as:

  • Scarring
  • Burns
  • Incomplete removals (some of the design remains)
  • Skin texture changes

If tattoo removal is something you are considering, you should definitely check out our other articles:

You have various tattoo removal options available to you:

  • Laser Surgery - Deep-penetrating lasers with a hyper-focused UV ray blast away at the ink deposited in your dermis so that it’s small enough to be carried away by your bloodstream.
  • Excision - This process involves cutting away the skin using a scalpel and stitching the area closed. This is much more painful than laser surgery.
  • Dermabrasion - This is always recommended as a last resort for tattoo removal because it’s quite painful and not always very effective. Doctors number the tattooed region and then use a rotary device to remove the skin where the ink is deposited, much like a sanding device. Keep in mind that your tattoo ink is deposited in your dermis - yikes, that’s deep!

Live With Nostalgia

You may look at a tattoo with regret but it’s nice to think about what you felt and who you were in the moment you got that ink. Consider just living with your art if it’s not offensive or doesn’t truly disrupt your life. After all, it can be a story to tell the kids.

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoo regret can happen to even the most well-intentioned and heavily researched clients. Lucky for you, there are advancements in technology as well as tattoo techniques that can help make the regret disappear. If you fall into the 12% of Americans who regret their tattoo, you have options available to help you out.

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