Tattoos come in endless shapes, sizes, and colors. You have so many options to choose from when deciding on what ink you are going to get – are you more the type for a colorful, old school style tattoo or are you maybe the progressive, geometric type, or even a watercolor tattoo person? Just as tattoos vary, so do ways of removing them, if you ever decide to. Perhaps you are one of those lucky people who get their tattoo and live happily ever after with it. But, what happens if you become unhappy with it, for whatever reason? Or you just happen to dislike bits and parts of it?

If the bond between you and your tattoo is somehow broken, and you’re contemplating on covering it up with a new piece, then perhaps a tattoo lightening is a great option for you.

How is tattoo lightening different from laser tattoo removal?

Let’s start with similarities first – both procedures are executed with the same equipment. The most notable difference between them lies in the fact that professional tattoo removal can, in most cases, completely remove the ink you do not longer want to have, while tattoo lightening is used to fade the ink to a desired level.

Another difference is that the process of tattoo lightening typically doesn’t last as long; it usually takes about a third of the time when compared to laser removal. It can take even less if you are covering just a part of the ink, with precision laser fading process, which targets only the specific area you want to be faded.

Also, it’s always a good idea to keep your tattoo artist updated on the process and wait for him to be fully satisfied with the result before thinking of getting a cover-up piece. By doing so, you will have the best possible canvas for him to work on. So, to sum it up, laser tattoo lightening is a procedure for those of us who want to cover up an old ink we do not longer care for (or parts of it) with a new one.

One of the biggest benefits of having the tattooed area lightened is the fact that it can (and will) significantly improve the future artwork. And this is the crucial part because a lot of us think covering a tattoo is just a matter of choosing a design that is slightly bigger than the old one, and that’s it, you’ve said goodbye to the unwanted ink. Sure, wouldn’t it be so nice if it were that easy, right?

Unfortunately, and I hate to disappoint you, it’s not.

First of all, not all tattoos can be covered; it has a lot to do with the color scheme, because the colors in the old tattoo will mix with the new one. For example, black is the easiest one to go over with, even though it isn’t everybody’s first choice. Cover-up tattoos are one of the most difficult ones to do properly, and they’re not a tattoo artist’s dream job. Some of them can even refuse to do it, for a number of reasons – they don’t want to change or cover someone else’s previous work, they think a cover-up won’t be executed in a way the client would want to etc. But don’t be discouraged, there are great artists willing to help you and make you fall back in love with tattooing.

So, what does the procedure of tattoo lightening actually involve?

Well, with the use of a laser, you can fade your tattoo so your artist of choice can have more options when covering an existing piece. The procedure won’t remove the tattoo completely, but it will prepare the tattooed area by weakening the ink. You can choose to lighten the entire piece or just a portion you no longer want to see and give the artist space to work around it. Tattoo lightening can take up to 8 or more months, and the number of sessions depends on how much you want your tattoo faded. Try to be patient and bear in mind it does take some time for the results to be noticeable. Also, remember you must wait around six months after the lightening is done to get a new ink because your body could potentially try to break down your brand new piece. So, as we said, patience is the way to go.

Of course, after reading all the information, you can still decide not to go through with it and just get a cover-up over your existing tattoo, but before making any final decisions, please go and sit down with your tattoo artist, let him see the piece you want to be covered up and listen to his advice. If he suggests tattoo lightening, it’s probably for the best to take his word for it, so you could get the result you hope for. It is in the interest of both of you to have the best end result possible.

And, one last thing when it comes to tattoo lightening, please take the safe road and choose a professional and do not try doing this by yourself at home. Sure, you can find tons of options on how to fade a tattoo on the internet, different DIY tricks such as strong scrubs or chemical creams, but they are all potentially extremely dangerous and can leave your skin open to infections or injuries, or even scarring. It doesn’t matter whether the tattoo is big or small, doing it without professional supervision can still be harmful and you will just end up with very irritated skin and most probably won’t even reach the layer of epidermis you need to in order to fade the tattoo. Going to a professional is a more expensive option than doing it yourself, but still, all the potential risks will always prevail over less expensive DIY fading of the ink.

Should you decide to get a tattoo lightening, wait for the right moment, find the right professional, give it time and the end result will be a faded and healed area ready for a new tattoo you will love. Listen to the professionals of your choice and keep in touch with the tattoo artist who will be doing your cover-up – isn’t it the best for them to collaborate so you would have a piece to proudly show off after everything is done? And, when all is said and done, just relax and enjoy your new and beautiful tattoo.