When it comes to bad tattoos, there are options, but who is really honest with you about those options? Here is what you should know, so you can best decide what is the right choice for what you are wanting to accomplish.
Laser : Newer laser tattoo removal techniques can eliminate your tattoo with minimal side effects. Here’s how it works: lasers remove tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors of the tattoo with a high-intensity light beam. I don’t know that we know the long term effects of having this done yet.
The 2 hardest colors to remove are black and red, and even then its not a guarantee it will be gone completely. Laser can take up to twelve (12) sessions and costs (at least in the Nashville area) between $200-$300 per session. It is also excruciatingly painful and can leave scarring or discoloration of the skin. The advantage to laser is if you just want to try and eliminate the tattoo altogether, or lighten a dark tattoo to make for an easier cover up. If you are going the cover up route, know that laser continues to break up pigment beneath the skin six (6) months after treatment, so you should not get any new ink until this time has passed from your last treatment.
Cover up : Covering up an unwanted tattoo is the cheaper option. It may completely hide the old tattoo with a new design, or may incorporate elements of part or whole of the existing tattoo.
Poorly applied, very faded or very light tattoos are the easiest to cover. While, you can only cover up a tattoo with the same or darker ink, there are ways in tattooing now in which we can lighten those dark areas, making it easier to achieve coverage and contrast. When choosing an artist for a cover up of an old tattoo, make sure they are someone who has done work in this area, and can explain in some detail the ins and outs of how the cover up will work. This validates they know what they are talking about.
Cover ups of dark tattoos and black lines, may still have a tendency to show through the new tattoo once healed. Touch ups are generally required for super dark areas, and may or may not be free to the client so please check with your artist first.