For many people, getting a tattoo is an exciting experience. You take time choosing the design, considering the placement, and saving up the money.
With how much fun getting a new tattoo can be, the last thing you want is for it to become another source of insecurity or uncertainty about your body weight.
Every body type is beautiful, and every person who wants a tattoo should feel empowered to get one.
Overall, weight loss or gain can have a very minimal effect on your tattoo, so there is no need to lose weight before getting a tattoo.
However, there are certain weight factors that will have a greater impact on your tattoo: how quickly a weight change happens, how drastic a weight change is, and the placement and size of your tattoo.
How much weight loss would affect my tattoo?
For any weight changes (whether loss or gain) to change your tattoo, they would have to be drastic. You’d have to lose or gain a large amount of weight – around 80-100 pounds.
If you’re only fluctuating in weight by around 20-50 pounds, you likely won’t see a huge difference in your tattoo.
Even with more significant weight loss, the changes will also depend on how quickly you lose the weight.
If you lose weight at a steady pace over a long period of time, your tattoo will likely stay pretty true to form. The size and placement may change, but it will be proportionate and your tattoo will retain its original design.
If you lose a lot of weight quickly, your skin won’t have the time to adjust. This kind of dramatic weight loss is what can cause more obvious changes in your tattoo.
You may notice that the shape of your tattoo will lose its original definition as it shrinks, and your placement may shift a little. The basic design will be there, but it will look different compared to the way it was when you first got it.
The same is true for significant and rapid weight gain, though the effects will be opposite. Rather than shrinking, your tattoo will stretch.
With intense weight gain, you will also have to keep in mind the way your skin will develop stretch marks, and how those may change your tattoo.
Stretch marks are often more common with drastic weight gain, and usually show up in areas of the body that accumulate more fat such as the thighs, hips, upper arms, and stomach.
If you have a tattoo in one of those areas of the body, it’s likely to be affected by stretch marks if you experience a significant weight gain. This could be stretch marks that break through the middle of your tattoo or distort the edges of your tattoo.
What areas of the body are less likely to be impacted by weight loss?
The placement of your tattoo is one of the bigger factors when determining how it will be affected with any weight changes.
If you’re someone who struggles with weight and often fluctuates with significant weight gains and losses, then there are areas of your body that will work better for a tattoo.
Forearms, lower legs, and the upper chest work well because these are areas of the body that don’t typically accumulate a large amount of weight, so are generally less impacted by weight loss.
Other areas are still fine to get tattoos, but you can expect to see some slight changes in the look of the tattoo with weight gain or weight loss.
As we mentioned above, thighs, hips, upper arms, and stomach tend to accumulate more weight and are more affected by weight changes.
With weight loss, you can expect tattoos in these areas to shrink. This will not only make the tattoo itself smaller, but can cause some of the finer details to get lost.
The placement may also shift. For example, a tattoo on the side of your thigh may shift a little to the front or back of your thigh with weight loss. It depends on how the skin readjusts to the change.
With weight gain, you can expect the tattoo design to expand, making it a larger tattoo. Like we said earlier, you can also deal with stretch marks breaking through and distorting the tattoo design.
Does the tattoo design make a difference with weight loss or weight gain distortions?
The distortions caused by weight loss and weight gain are generally minimal if the weight change happens over time.
The design of your tattoo doesn’t really matter, although you may notice some designs can handle the growth or shrinkage better than others.
A highly detailed and complex design, such as a mandala, may lose some of the definition and complexity with severe and sudden weight gain or loss.
Wording may also become distorted with significant weight gain or loss; you will probably still be able to read the words, but the font may not look as crisp as it did before and the lines of the phrase may not line up correctly.
Smaller tattoos struggle a bit with weight changes as well, since they’re already small to begin with. The design can become disproportionate or distorted by stretching or become hard to make out with shrinkage.
Large tattoos with general designs, such as a single flower, will take to skin changes better. It may change size or placement a little bit, but the flower will still look the same before and after the weight change.
Can a tattoo be saved after weight loss occurs (loose skin)?
A tattoo may not necessarily be “saved” after weight loss, but any changes or distortions may be small enough that you won’t need saving.
Loose skin is harder for a tattoo artist to work with since they need to draw and shade across the skin, which naturally tends to pull the skin. For this reason, a tattoo artist likely won’t want to make changes to an existing tattoo that’s on loose skin.
However, most tattoos can be saved before they even need it by properly moisturizing the skin.
As you lose weight, your skin will need to be supported so it can adjust to the new shape. You can do this by using a moisturizing lotion on your skin every day.
Tattoos are expected to change over time. The ink will fade and the design will change a little as your skin naturally changes with age. This is a part of the tattoo experience for everyone regardless of significant weight changes.
Applying lotion to your tattoo on a regular basis can help mitigate the natural changes of your tattoo. Moisturized skin is healthier and will stay firm and smooth longer.
How can a tattoo be impacted if you gain weight after getting a tattoo?
The main issue with gaining weight after getting a tattoo is the stretch marks.
In general, tattoos will grow with you. As your body naturally changes, your skin will change with you.
The huge impact comes from significant and rapid weight gain, as we discussed earlier. This is what causes stretch marks, which can come unexpectedly in many areas of your body and could disturb your tattoo.
If you don’t get stretch marks, your tattoo may still become larger and take up more room on your body than it did before. The colors may also fade and your details may become distorted.
This can also be alleviated with using a good moisturizing lotion on your skin every day, just as with significant weight loss.
When is the best time to get a tattoo?
To sum it all up, there’s no perfect time to get a tattoo. Weight changes can happen to anyone, and in general your tattoo can take it.
Your skin naturally changes with your weight, and so will your tattoo.
If you’re waiting to get a tattoo until after you’ve reached a weight loss milestone, feel free to skip the waiting and get it now.
If you’re planning to become pregnant and are worried about the way your tattoo will look with weight gain, rest assured that your body will adjust.
Your tattoo may get distorted throughout the pregnancy – especially if it’s on your stomach – but it will likely go back to the original shape once you have the baby.
The way tattoos change with weight is similar to the way they change with age. It happens to everyone, but your tattoo will change with you.
No one’s tattoo looks the same after 10 years as it did the very first day. Embrace the changes and feel free to lose weight before or after your tattoo.