What is a tattoo blowout. Can it be fixed
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What is a Tattoo Blowout? Can It Be Fixed?

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What is a Tattoo Blowout?

A tattoo blowout is a bad outcome that can occur during the tattooing process. It occurs when a tattoo artist injects ink too deep into the skin, and it spreads into the fat layer beneath the dermis. The result is a blurry, smudged appearance that can negatively affect the appearance of the tattoo.

There are several factors that can contribute to tattoo blowouts, including the artist’s inexperience, heavy-handedness, or improper tattoo needle technique. 

Additionally, the angle at which the ink is deposited into the skin and the amount of pressure applied can also play a role.

It’s important to be aware of this potential issue and to carefully select a skilled and experienced tattoo artist to minimize the risk of experiencing a blowout.

Despite the undesirable appearance, tattoo blowouts do not generally pose a significant risk to one’s health although they are a source of frustration.

However, they can lead to scarring and an overall reduction in the tattoo’s visual appeal. In some cases, a touch-up or corrective treatment may be necessary to address the effects of a tattoo blowout, but prevention is always the best strategy.

So if you are wondering, what is a tattoo blowout, read on to find out how to identify and avoid this frustrating tattoo phenomenon.

What is a tattoo blowout. Blowout on tribal tattoo
A classic example of extreme blowout can be seen around this Geometric Tattoo

You may also find this post helpful – After Tattoo Care – Everything You Need To Know

What Causes Tattoo Blowouts?

Tattoo blowouts can be caused by a few factors, such as tattooing too hard and deep, tattooing on thin and fragile skin, the tattooist stretching the skin too much, or the client taking blood thinners. This section will cover these causes and provide more information about each.

Tattooing Too Hard and Deep

A common cause of tattoo blowouts is when the tattoo artist applies too much pressure or inserts the needle too deep into the skin. This can result from inexperience, lack of skill, or even momentary lapses in focus.

When the needle penetrates too deep, the ink spreads into the fat beneath the dermis layer {where the ink should be}, causing the blurry appearance associated with tattoo blowouts.

In some cases, tattooing too hard can also lead to scarring. It is important for artists to apply the right pressure and maintain the correct angle to ensure that the ink settles in the dermis, the second layer of skin that lies beneath the epidermis.

This is why going to an experienced tattooist is so important.

Tattooing on Thin and Fragile Skin

Some areas of the body have delicate, thin skin, such as the wrists, hands, feet, and fingers. Tattoos in these areas are more prone to blowouts because the ink particles can easily spread into the surrounding subcutaneous tissue, causing the lines to blur.

It’s crucial for the tattoo artist to be mindful of the skin’s vulnerability when working on these areas.

Tattooed skin over joints that move a lot, for example the wrist, is also prone to blowout.

A good artist should know how to adjust their technique when tattooing fragile skin, which may include using less pressure, running the machine at a lower speed, and ensuring the needle doesn’t penetrate too deep into the skin layers.

Tattooist Stretching the Skin Too Much

Another factor that contributes to tattoo blowouts is the excessive stretching of the skin by the tattooist. Artists often need to stretch the skin slightly to create a flat surface for the needle to work on, but heavy handed overstretching can lead to the ink spreading beyond the intended area.

Areas such as the inner bicep are prone to this as the tattooist needs a good grip here to stretch and its easy to overdo it.

To avoid this, the tattooist should apply just enough tension to create a smooth working area without causing undue stress on the skin.

This comes down to good technique.

Taking Blood Thinners {Anticoagulant Medicines}

Some individuals who take blood thinners may experience an increased risk of tattoo blowouts.

Blood thinners include Aspirin, Warfarin, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban, Clopidogrel and others

Blood thinners can cause the blood to flow more easily, which may lead to excess ink spreading into the surrounding tissue during the tattooing process.

If you’re taking blood thinners, it’s essential to discuss your plans to get a tattoo with your healthcare provider. They may allow you to come off the thinners for a few days which will decrease your risk of a problem.

You need to speak to your Tattooist. They may not want to tattoo you if you are taking a thinner. They need to know what is going on so that they can adjust their approach accordingly.

However, I have tattooed quite a few people taking blood thinners without a problem. I avoid heavy tattoo styles such as tribal or black work and instead use dot work and pepper shading techniques. 

By doing this I have avoided any issues with blow-outs on these clients.

What Does a Tattoo Blowout Look Like?

The most noticeable sign of a tattoo blowout is the blurring effect on the surface of the tattoo. 

The ink may appear to be “bleeding” into the skin surrounding the design, causing an unintentional halo-like effect. The edges of the design would lose their sharpness, making the overall image look poorly executed.

This distorted appearance might resemble a puddle of ink placed incorrectly or a design that is “fuzzy” on the skin.

Another common characteristic associated with tattoo blowouts is the ink’s spreading or seeping in the skin. 

The deeper the ink has been injected, the more ink may have spread into the skin’s layers beyond the top layer. This spread can create an uneven distribution of ink and alter the design’s overall appearance.

Moreover, the affected area may develop a smudged look, with the ink appearing as though it had been smeared or blended into the skin around the tattoo. This effect can create an unappealing aesthetic and detract from the original design’s visual appeal.

Body Parts Prone to Tattoo Blowouts

There are certain body parts that are more prone to tattoo blowouts due to their anatomy and the presence of fat deposits or thin skin. This can result in blurry and undesired tattoo outcomes.

Sometimes it’s better to get the tattoo in areas with thicker skins.

This section will cover the most common body parts prone to tattoo blowouts which include under the bicep, inner thigh, fingers and hands, and top of the foot.

Under the Bicep

The area under the bicep consists of thin skin and a high amount of fat deposits. Due to this combination, tattoo artists may inadvertently inject ink too deeply, causing the ink to spread and create a tattoo blowout.

To avoid this issue, it is essential to find an experienced tattoo artist who is skilled in working on such sensitive areas.

Blown out tattoo under the bicep.
Blown out tattoo under the bicep. The blowout is the faint gray/blue discolouration behind the tattoo

Inner Thigh

The inner thigh is another area prone to tattoo blowouts, as it consists of a thicker layer of fat deposits and thin skin. In addition, the constant friction between the thighs can cause ink to blur and spread over time.

To minimize the risk of a blowout in the inner thigh area, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare instructions and allow the tattoo to heal undisturbed.

Fingers and Hands

Fingers and hands are particularly susceptible to tattoo blowouts due to the thin skin and numerous joints present in these areas. The wrist, fingers, and tops of hands are at a higher risk for blowouts.

The wrist joint, because of its movement is particularly bad. Get a wrist tattoo away from the joint area.

Proper technique and experienced tattoo artists are essential in preventing blowouts in these intricate areas.

Blowout on finger tattoo
Blowout on finger tattoo. Sadly this will be difficult to fix
What is a tattoo blowout. Inner finger
The inner finger is at high risk of a blowout occurring. If it doesn’t blowout it will fade. This area is best avoided.

Top of the Foot

Similar to the hands, the feet have numerous bones and a thinner skin layer, particularly on the top of the foot. 

This increases the risk of tattoo blowouts, particularly if the art is placed close to the ankle or other bony areas. It is vital to seek out skilled tattoo artists who are experienced working on feet in order to minimize the risk of a blowout.

In conclusion, certain body parts are more prone to tattoo blowouts due to their unique characteristics such as thin skin, fat deposits, or the presence of joints.

It is essential to find experienced tattoo artists and follow proper aftercare instructions to minimize the risk of blowouts in these areas.

Signs of a Tattoo Blowout

A tattoo blowout can be identified by a few distinct signs that may appear after the tattooing process. The most common indicator is the presence of blurry and smudged lines or shapes, resulting from the ink spreading deeper into the skin than intended. 

Another key sign of a tattoo blowout is the ink spreading, or “bleeding,” into the surrounding area. It might give the tattoo a fuzzy appearance, making the original design less sharp and less defined.

Keep in mind that not all tattoos with blurry or smudged appearances are necessarily a result of a blowout. Other factors like skin type, ink quality, or the healing process can also contribute to a less-than-perfect tattoo.

However, familiarizing oneself with the signs of a tattoo blowout can help in identifying any potential issues and seeking assistance from a professional tattoo artist if needed.

Will a Tattoo Blowout Get Worse Over Time?

Over time, a tattoo blowout might seem to get worse due to the natural aging process of the skin.

However, in most cases, the blowout does not worsen significantly. Instead, it is the skin that changes around the tattoo, which can lead to the ink becoming more noticeable.

Factors like weight gain, weight loss, and skin elasticity and ageing can affect the appearance of a tattoo blowout.

Although a tattoo blowout might look more noticeable as time goes by, the possibility of it getting substantially worse is relatively low. 

How to Tell if It’s Bruising or a Tattoo Blowout

Determining whether you’re experiencing bruising or a tattoo blowout can be challenging, but there are certain distinguishing factors that can help. Initially, bruising may appear similar to a blowout, but as time goes on, bruising will fade while blowouts remain persistent.

Bruising typically occurs during the healing process and is characterized by reddish or bluish discoloration near the tattooed area. 

As the tattoo heals, you may notice the colors of the bruise fading to greenish-yellow within a few days after the tattooing session. This is a sign that your body is breaking down the injured blood vessels and healing the area.

On the other hand, a tattoo blowout occurs when the ink spreads beyond the intended area, resulting in a smudged or blurred effect.

Bruising and blowout around a tattoo
Bruising AND blowout around a tattoo. The bruising is fading to yellow but the blue blowout remains.

Bruising V Blowout

  • The ink in a blowout may look like it’s bleeding outwards from the line, and it often follows the shape of the tattoo. 
  • A key difference between bruising and a blowout is that the colors of a blowout will not fade, instead remaining consistent. 
  • Additionally, while bruising disappears in a week or so, the effects of a blowout may remain visible for much longer.

Moreover, light scabbing and peeling can be expected during the tattoo healing process. If a tattoo appears faded when it peels, it might indicate that the ink was placed too shallow in the skin, which is not a blowout.

In such cases, it is essential to distinguish between natural healing and complications caused by incorrect technique or depth.

Recognizing the specific signs and timeline of bruising and tattoo blowouts can help determine which issue you may be facing.

While bruising will fade and heal, a tattoo blowout can cause lasting consequences. 

Always consult with your tattoo artist if you suspect a problem, as they can provide guidance and any necessary further action.

You can find more detail on how to identify if you have a bruise or blowout in this post.
Tattoo Blowout or Bruising? How To Tell The Difference

Methods to Fix a Tattoo Blowout

This section will discuss common methods to fix a tattoo blowout: 

It’s essential to take proper care and consult an experienced tattoo artist to find the best course of action to fix the blowout.

You can find out more detail about fixing a blowout in this post
Tattoo Blowout Removal – How To Fix Your Botched Ink

Tattooing Over the Blown Out Area

One approach to fixing a tattoo blowout is to camouflage the affected area with a new tattoo – this is also known as a tattoo cover-up.

A skilled tattoo artist can create a design that integrates the blowout into a new tattoo or conceals it entirely. This is the quickest and often least expensive solution for correcting a blowout.

However, it’s crucial to choose an experienced tattoo artist to achieve the best results and prevent further issues.

They may also be able to tattoo skin colored ink or another colour around the edge of the design to camouflage the blurriness of the blowout.

Laser Removal

Another option for addressing a tattoo blowout is laser removal which targets the blown-out ink with Q-Switched: ND:YAG lasers.

These lasers can remove or reduce the appearance of the tattoo blowout. While laser correction can be effective, it may require multiple sessions and can be more costly than a cover-up. 

Laser removal should be considered when other methods are not feasible or desired.

Here is a case study of the successful removal of a bad blowout using laser.

Blue foot: a second case of “tattoo blow-out” pigment spread successfully treated with the QS-Nd:YAG laser

Surgical Tattoo Removal

It is possible to remove a tattoo surgically if it is really messed up. However, this is a pretty heavy handed approach and also very expensive.

Preventing Blowouts Before They Happen

One of the most important aspects of preventing tattoo blowouts is selecting an experienced tattoo artist who understands proper placement and techniques.

Go to an Experienced Tattoo Artist

An experienced tattoo artist possesses the skill and knowledge needed to avoid common complications like tattoo blowout. Blowouts are just more likely to happen with an inexperienced artist

They understand the intricacies of professional tattooing, and their attention to detail reduces the likelihood of mistakes occurring.

When selecting a tattoo artist, it is essential to research their background, including their portfolio and positive customer reviews to assess their skill level and the quality of their work.

By choosing a good artist and tattoo shop you significantly reduce the risk of tattoo blowout.

The expertise of the tattoo artist plays a critical role in preventing tattoo blowouts. This is due to their understanding of proper technique and needle depth, ensuring precise ink placement in the correct skin layers.

Proper needle handling and technique on the part of the artist can reduce the chance of ink dispersing too deeply or unevenly.

In conclusion, reducing the risk of tattoo blowouts primarily relies on the careful selection of an experienced tattoo artist with a demonstrated history of professional tattooing.

By opting for a skilled professional, the likelihood of facing complications like tattoo blowout decreases significantly.

Examples of Tattoo Blowouts

Blowouts are more common in tattoos in the lining of the tattoo as this is applied with the machine running at a higher speed which is more likely to push the ink into the wrong layer. For this reason the blowout is often black or blue in appearance as black ink is most likely used in tattoo lines.

Here are some blowout images so you know what to spot.

Tattoo blowout around lettering
Theres severe blowout around this lettering, seen as the blue smudge under the tattoo. The tattoo is scarred and overworked.

Tattoo blowout around tribal tattoo
The blue stain around this overworked tribal tattoo is blowout. Theres also some bruising on the left.

FAQ – What is a Tattoo Blowout?

Does a Tattoo Blowout Go Away?

A tattoo blowout may fade over time, but it’s not guaranteed to completely disappear. The extent of the blowout and an individual’s healing process can both influence how much a blowout might diminish. Proper aftercare can be vital in promoting the healing process and possibly reducing the appearance of a blowout. 

How Do I Know if My Tattoo Is Blown Out?

A blown-out tattoo is characterized by the ink spreading beyond the original lines into the surrounding subcutaneous tissue. This can give the ink a blurred or fuzzy appearance. If a fresh tattoo looks blurry a few weeks after the season it’s most likely a blowout. 

Can Rubbing a Tattoo Cause Blowout?

While rubbing a tattoo during the healing process can be detrimental to the ink, it is not the primary cause of tattoo blowouts. Blowouts are more commonly caused by the artist’s technique or errors related to needle depth or angle. However, excessive rubbing or applying too much pressure on the tattoo during aftercare may lead to ink spread

This is most common in thin skin areas such as the foot. Wearing shoes that rub on the tattoo when it is fresh can cause blowout here

This post may be helpful – Help – My Tattoo Looks Smudged Under Saniderm

And this one… – Tattoo Bleeding Ink. Should You Worry?

Conclusion – What is a Tattoo Blowout?

A tattoo blowout is a phenomenon that occurs when tattoo ink spreads to unintended layers of skin, causing a blurry tattoo. 

This can happen when a tattoo artist presses too hard, deposits ink at the wrong angle, or overworks the skin. It is more common with less experienced artists, but can happen with any artist. Even the best tattooists may cause a blowout.

Preventing a distorted tattoo is largely dependent on the skill and technique of the tattoo artist.

However, clients can minimize the risk by doing thorough research, choosing an experienced and reputable tattoo artist, and maintaining proper hygiene and aftercare of the tattoo.

In some cases, tattoo blowouts may be fixable through various methods, such as tattoo touch-ups, laser tattoo removal, or even cover-up tattoos. The success of these methods depends on factors like the severity of the blowout, the location, and the design of the original tattoo.

In conclusion, understanding the causes and possible prevention methods for tattoo blowouts helps those considering getting a tattoo to make informed decisions.

It is important for both clients and their chosen tattoo artists to work together to minimize the risks associated with blowouts while also being prepared to address any issues if they occur.

Please note - it hasn't been possible to find credits for these tattoos. If your work is shown and you would like a link to your site or social profile please get in contact and we will add it. Thanks
The information on the site is for entertainment only. Anything you do is at your own risk. Consult with your own Tattooist, Piercer or Doctor for advice.
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