Can Tattoos Alter After Weight Loss and Body Changes?

woman with arm tattoos

Unsplash / Design by Camden Dechert

Changes in your body and fluctuation in your weight over the course of a lifetime are not only normal, but should be totally expected. If you have a tattoo, these physical changes can alter your design and placement—however, the effects are less noticeable than you might think. Ahead, you'll find info on how weight loss and weight gain from pregnancy, working out, or not working out could affect your body ink. You'll also find info on how it shouldn't stop you from living your best, truest life.

How Weight Loss Affects Tattoos

When it comes to weight loss, the biggest changes in the composition of your tattoo will be in its size and location on your body. For instance, if you got a tattoo on the side of your thigh, then lost a considerable amount of weight, the positioning of that tattoo might no longer be the same. Instead of staying in place on the side of your thigh, it might migrate toward the front or the back. Additionally, a tattoo that previously covered a small area of your thigh might look like it covers more area as your thigh lessens in size. It’s important to note that smaller tattoos might also lose their detail as the skin, which was one pulled taut, shifts.

How Weight Gain Affects Tattoos

Only in cases of extreme weight loss or weight gain will you see a noticeable difference in a tattoo design. Similar to weight loss, weight gain can affect the placement and size of the tattoo design. During pregnancy, tattoos located directly on the body's midsection are susceptible to change due to the rate at which the skin expands. While stretch marks can alter an existing tattoo design, the effects of the marks depend on each individual’s specific design and placement. If you decide to touch up the area later on, seek out a tattoo artist who specializes in the area, as this skin texture can prove tricky to work with.
Working out and toning your muscles shouldn’t affect your tattoo at all, but if heavy weightlifting is in fact your thing, significant muscle gain could morph the shape. The better the placement of the tattoo in relationship to the muscle, the less chance of it changing. If you're concerned about this before getting the tattoo (maybe you're planning to make some lifestyle changes), discuss it with your tattoo artist.

Final Thoughts About Tattoos and Weight Changes

If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo, consider the above information, but don’t let it deter you from getting the art you want. Instead, use the above knowledge to help you choose a design that will age along with you and transform beautifully and seamlessly over the years.

If you already have a tattoo and have noticed changes in your artwork due to weight loss or weight gain for whatever reason, visit your tattoo artist for a touch-up and for their professional opinion. You might even decide on a reworked version of your original art that better represents this stage of your life. At the end of the day, though, the decision to embrace your ever-transforming body art or touch it up is a decision you can (and should) make for yourself.

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