Do tattoos stretch when you get fat?

do tattoos stretch when you get fat
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Do tattoos stretch when you get fat?

Weight gain can have a dramatic effect on your tattoos. You may be wondering, do tattoos stretch when you get fat?

As you gain weight and your skin stretches your tattoo will stretch with it. Depending on how much weight you gain this can distort the tattoo. Tattoos on areas like the stomach and thigh will distort more than areas like the back. If you lose the weight your tattoo will return to its original size. 


Tattoos will distort with weight gain. The location of the tattoo is important as to how well the tattoo will fare. If you are worried, there are some things that you can do to help your tattoo to survive as well as possible.

Do tattoos stretch when you get fat?

Weight gain will stretch your tattoos. As you gain weight your skin will stretch to accommodate and as your tattoo is part of your skin, this too will stretch with it.

If the stretching is extreme and fast, the underlying layers of the skin can separate and split.

This results in a stretch mark. Stretch marks are when the deeper structure of the skin has been compromised.

This splitting has a distorting effect on any tattoo on the skin above it. You will find that the tattoo has lines or striations running through it and looks blurred.

However, there are ways to try to prevent this splitting from happening as we will discuss further on.

Tattoo on Stretch Mark

A stretch mark can cause damage to a tattoo.

Location of the tattoo matters

The location of the tattoo has a massive bearing on how well the tattoo will hold up.

Tattoo locations that stretch more…

Some areas of the body stretch more than others as you gain weight. You know that there are areas where we all put on weight first. These are…

  • The Stomach
    Tattoos around the front and sides of the stomach will not fare well if you gain weight. Stomach skin tends to stretch and often may remain damaged and saggy after you lose the weight. This will distort the tattoo.
  • The Breasts
    Often an area where weight heads to first, breast tattoos can remain stretched, even after you lose weight.
  • The Backside
    The backside may be an area that gains weight first, stretching your tattoos. However, tattoos here seem to have a better chance of standing up to stretching than the stomach and breasts.
  • The Ribs and lower back
    The area around the top of the backside, lower back and around to the ribs can show stretch marks which will affect the quality of your tattoo.
  • The Thighs
    The outer sides of the thighs are likely to gain weight which will result in distortion of the tattoo. However, tattoos on the inner thigh area may fare better.

Tattoo locations that stretch less…

Locations, where weight accumulates less, will fare better. These include…

  • Feet and ankles
    Weight tends to accumulate less in the feet. Foot tattoos will probably be unaffected by weight gain.
  • Hands
    Hands similarly don’t tend to be a place we store fat. Therefore hand tattoos will remain relatively unaffected if you put on weight.
  • Back of the neck
    The neck remains relatively stable weight wise and not prone to stretch marks. So a tattoo here should be a fairly safe bet unless you gain a large amount of weight.

How can you prevent tattoos from stretching when you gain weight?

There is nothing you can do to prevent the tattoo from stretching as you gain weight. It’s part of your skin and has to stretch with it.

However, you can protect the tattoo and keep it in the best possible shape. If you then lose weight again, there is a good chance that the tattoo will return to its former shape and still look great. 

In most cases, unless you gain weight or muscle extremely quickly, your tattoo will probably be fine.

The important thing is to prevent stretch marks from occurring. As we discussed previously, stretch marks are caused by a splitting of the underlying skin structure.

Once this damage has occurred it will distort the tattoo and even if you lose weight, the tattoo won’t spring back but will have a saggy appearance.

Therefore preventing stretch marks from happening is the most important thing to do to protect your tattoo.

This is easier said than done but some products can help.

The idea is to hydrate the skin to make it more elastic. Therefore it is more likely to stretch and less likely to split.

The act of massaging in a product twice a day also helps with the elasticity of the skin.

These are a couple of specialist stretch mark products that can help you to minimise the appearance of stretch marks and protect your tattoos if you find yourself gaining weight.

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Meraz Pureuty Anti Stretch-Mark Oil

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Erbavia Organic Stretch-Mark Oil

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Do tattoos stretch when you gain muscle?

It doesn’t matter if you gain weight through fat or muscle. Both will result in stretching of your skin and your tattoo with it. Gaining muscle often results in skin stretching in areas such as the bicep and shoulders. This can affect arm tattoos, especially if you gain muscle fast.

Many of the principles laid out will help you to preserve your tattoos as much as possible.

Looking after your skin will help it to retain its elasticity and help to avoid splitting or stretch marks. 

If you are gaining muscle fast, the area under the top of the arm is especially prone to this and can damage any tattoos you have there.

Massaging the skin with a stretch mark preventative oil twice a day will help to keep the skin hydrated and elastic.

Gain muscle slowly rather than rushing it. Then your tattoos will probably cope just fine.

What happens to tattoos when you lose weight?

So far we have discussed what happens to tattoos when you gain weight, but what happens if you lose the weight again?

In many cases, when you lose weight, the tattoo will shrink down to its original size and shape. However, you may find that the tattoo has become blurred, faded or saggy. The location of the tattoo and the amount of weight gained and lost will all influence how well the tattoo recovers. 

The speed you gain and lose weight will have a huge bearing on how the tattoo fares.

Conclusion – Do tattoos stretch when you get fat?

Tattoos will stretch when you get fat or gain muscle. However, many factors will influence how well the tattoo stands up to the change.

The location makes a big difference as well as how you look after the skin. If you look after your skin well you should find the tattoo can return to its original state if you lose weight again.

Stretched tattoos before and after.

It’s pretty difficult to find images of stretched tattoos. I guess people don’t want to photograph them if they have gained weight.

However, pregnancy does show that tattoos can stretch a lot pretty quickly and still return to their original shape.

Tattoo before and after pregnancy

Tattoo before and after pregnancy. This shows how it is possible for a tattoo go back to its normal size.

Tattoo before and after stretching

Tattoo before and after stretching. You can see how the tattoo loses some detail and sharpness

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