Tattoo Lightening and Tattoo Removal

The same equipment and techniques apply for full removal or partial lightening/fading.  There are neither limits nor thresholds involved in continuing an initial fading through to full removal.  A client may choose to continue scheduling treatments as long as they see fit.

At Skin Renew, we offer a free consultation. We will review the tattoo lightening process with you and look at your existing tattoo to determine the best method of lightening or partial removal. We can work directly with your Indianapolis area tattoo artist by sharing progress information and images. When your tattoo artist is satisfied with your new canvas, your laser tattoo removal will be complete. Tattoo lightening or fading typically takes just a third to half the time as a full removal. Depending on color and size, it can be even less. Partial removal cost is dependent on size.


Seriously, don’t ever, ever try the do-it-yourself tattoo lightening or fading creams, or tricks found on the internet. Remembering that your tattoo ink resides below the top layer of skin, there are crazy DIY tricks such as salt scrubs, excision, chemical creams and even burning that people have tried. They are all unsuccessful, painful and extremely dangerous leaving you open to infection, injury, and painful recovery.

Rethinking your tattoo?

Why do tattoo lightening or tattoo fading?

Not everyone comes to Skin Renew for full tattoo removals. Many clients may want a partial tattoo removal, or tattoo lightening so their existing artwork can be covered up with a new design. Just like full tattoo removal, there are similar reasons for the tattoo cover up or partial tattoo removal.

That tattoo is so five years ago.

Let’s just say some tattoos have an expiration date. Something or someone grabbed hold of you five years ago so you put it on your arm. It was your personal mantra, a significant symbol or motivational image to which you felt a personal connection. Today, your first thought as you eye roll that decision is “I need to get this covered with a tattoo that reflects who I’ve become.” Everyone is evolving so a tattoo from your past may not become your present or future.

Never liked it.

You blame your parents, really. As you sat in the tattoo artists’ chair getting a design you had worked on for several months, it dawned on you, albeit too damn late, that what the artist was creating on your thigh—right that second—was NOTHING like what you imagined. But, because your parents taught you to be polite and patient and optimistic, you continued to blindly hope it would turn out as imagined. Well, it didn’t.

A tattoo artist prefers creating a tattoo cover-up on a lightened or faded canvas.

  • Tattoo fading prepares the existing tattooed area for new art by weakening the original tattoo ink.
  • Tattoo fading may also prepare a tattoo where only a portion of the tattoo is to be changed, or where new art is to be added.
  • Tattoo artists prefer covering a lightened tattoo. A blank or lightened canvas improves the artwork greatly.
  • The wound undergoes contraction, resulting in a smaller amount of apparent scar tissue.
  • The entire process is a dynamic continuum with an overlap of each phase.
  • The wound reaches maximal strength at one year, with a tensile strength that is 30% of normal skin.
  • Collagen deposition continues for a prolonged period, but the net increase in collagen deposition plateaus after 21 days.

What if there is only a portion that needs covering up?

Many times we will find clients may have a tattoo that they love, but there is one section of it they no longer care for.  Precision Laser Fading is a process where we can target only the specific area to be lightened.  Our technicians, equipment, and training allow us to zero in on the area needed while protecting and preserving the existing art around the area.


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Understanding How a Tattoo is Created is the first step in determining, with the help of your tattoo artist, if your tattoo needs to be lightened before a tattoo cover-up. When your tattoo was created, the ink was deposited approximately one millimeter beneath the skin, into the dermis, which is the layer below the epidermis (the skin you see).

As your cover-up gets tattooed, the new ink is also deposited within the dermis, along with the old colored ink. The pigment in the new inks does not go over the top of the old tattoo’s pigment; rather the two colors combine to make a new color, although the stronger or darker-colored ink becomes dominant in the mixture. For example, red and blue ink mixed together make purple, underneath the skin or elsewhere.

With that being said- when a tattoo artist looks at the original tattoo- they can then determine what colors may be used in a redesign.  A good rule of thumb: A darker shade of a color can cover itself. So lime green can be covered with emerald green and light blue with royal blue or purple.

Black is the most effective color to cover up an old tattoo. Although, of course, a black-ink tattoo is not very attractive.


A talented cover-up tattoo artist will incorporate the old design, into the new design. By creating contrast, depth and an interesting design around the dark areas, the artist draws the eye away from the parts of the old tattoo being covered up.

Having the old tattoo there may limit the tattoo artist on the re-design.  The tattoo artist may need to trace the old tattoo on tracing paper, and then layer new designs on another tracing paper to create the contrast and depth described above.

The easier answer is to work with your tattoo artist on how you would like your new tattoo to look and remove those limitations!

Fading or lightening with a tattoo removal laser will improve the results of your tattoo cover up. Your tattoo artist will recommend you lighten when there are conflicting colors in your old tattoo versus your new tattoo. Also, every tattoo artist does their best work on a cleaner slate. By lightening your tattoo, you’ll get improved results and a tattoo that you are proud to show off instead of another one that stays undercover.

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