Inside: Tattoo blowout definition, examples & how to fix it.
What Is Tattoo Blowout?
Tattoo blowout is a result of pushing ink too deep into the skin. When a tattoo blows out, the ink sinks into the layers of fat beneath the skin, causing the ink to blur and bleed away from the original design.
When tattooing, the needle should only penetrate the epidermis and stop halfway through the dermis. This skin level, which is usually only 1/16 inch (1.58 mm) deep, is dense and contains very few capillaries and nerves. So, placing the ink there will keep the ink visible and in place while also minimizing bleeding and pain during the tattooing process.
However, if the needle passes through the dermis and into the layer of fat below, the ink will move throughout the soft fat, bloodstream, and muscle, causing parts of the tattoo to blur, bleed, and fade quickly.
Why Does Tattoo Blowout Happen?
Tattoo blowout happens when the tattooing needle goes too deep into the skin. This issue is prevalent with stick-and-poke tattoos but can occur if a tattoo artist sets the protrusion length of the tattoo gun too high.
Pushing ink too deep into the skin is a common mistake for beginner tattoo artists who are inexperienced with their guns or the feel of tattooing by hand. Some common mistakes that lead to blowout include:
- Pressing the tattoo gun against the skin instead of allowing it to hover above the skin
- Pressing stick-and-poke needles too deep into the skin
- Neglecting to set the needle protrusion length appropriately on a tattoo gun
- Another reason you may experience a blowout tattoo is if the tattoo artist used the wrong angle while inserting the needle. This causes the ink to be dispersed into the neighboring tissues, even if it is within a radius of 1.5 to 2 millimeter.
- Failing to lower the needle protrusion length when tattooing areas of the body with thinner skin (e.g., rib cage, spine, face, around the ears)
- Joints are also slightly more prone to blowout tattoos as compared to the rest of the body.
More often than not, blowout tattoos are a result of the tattoo artist’s hand being heavy or not having enough experience with tattoo needles. However, in some cases, even the most experienced artists can make tiny mistakes that lead to a blowout tattoo.
In a nutshell, a blowout tattoo occurs when the tattoo ink is inserted a bit too deeply inside the skin. This ink then spreads out into the layers of fat that surround the area. As a result, it gives the tattoo a blurring effect. The tissue biopsies taken from people with similar tattoos prove that the ink had traveled deeper than required during the procedure.
In most cases, the blowout effect starts becoming visible only hours or even minutes after getting the tattoo. However, sometimes, it might take weeks before the ink submerged into the deeper layers of the skin becomes visible.
Anatomically, blowout occurs when the layers of fat below the dermis absorb and move ink away from the tattoo site. This process may take less or more time, depending on where the tattoo is.
Since fat moves more readily than the skin, the amount of pressure you put on the tattooed area will speed up the ink dispersal process. For example, if the blown-out tattoo is on a joint or on your hands, the effects of the blowout will likely be more noticeable within a few hours of receiving a tattoo.
History of Tattoo Blowout
Tattoo blowout’s history is difficult to trace, but it has likely been an issue with the art since tattooing began over 5,000 years ago.
However, the development of the internet has revolutionized the accessibility of DIY tattooing, which has put tattoo guns in the hands of inexperienced amateurs. Because anyone can get a tattoo gun, inks, and needles online, more people have started giving themselves tattoos without any training and experience, leading to increased blowouts.
Examples of Tattoo Blowout
For some unknown reason, tattoo blowout is more common when the tattoo is in blue or black inks. This example of tattoo blowout illustrates a tattoo done in many colors, yet only the blue and black inks are dispersed around the site.
In addition, a blowout can become apparent in the earliest healing stages after getting a tattoo. This example shows that the ink dispersion from a blowout can start to appear before the scabs have peeled off of a tattoo.
In examples such as this one, the tattoo artist didn’t account for the skin’s thinness at the wrist, resulting in a blowout.
Types of Tattoo Blowout
The following are the most common types of tattoo blowout:
Blowout on Thin Skin
Tattooing on thinner skin often results in a blowout, even if the artist is very experienced. Tattooing on the delicate skin around the wrists, upper arms, ears, joints, and face requires very shallow needle penetration since the dermis and epidermis are very thin in those areas.
Stick and Poke Blowout
Stick and poke tattoo blowout is common due to lack of experience. Many people who give themselves and friends tattoos without professional training risk creating a blowout since they cannot accurately gauge how deep they push the needle into the skin.
Blowout From an Inexperienced Tattoo Artist
Blowouts are most commonly a result of going to an inexperienced tattoo artist. Artists who haven’t learned to accurately gauge skin thicknesses and apply the proper amount of pressure on the tattoo gun will likely create blowouts. If you want to ensure that your tattoo doesn’t blow out, only get tattoos from experienced, professional tattoo artists.
Examples of Tattoo Blowouts
1. Blown Tattoo Line
2. Finger Tattoo
3. Single Needle Blowouts
4. Tattoo Ink Blowout
5. Tattoo Blowout Example
Tattoo Blowout vs. Normal Fading
All tattoos fade due to sunlight exposure and ink migration within the dermis. However, it takes years for a tattoo to fade and blur if the artist did it correctly.
On the other hand, tattoo blowout usually appears within hours of the first tattoo sitting. Still, a slight blowout may take a few days to become apparent. Blowouts will be most evident after the scabs have fallen off the tattoo, but they can appear on the same day the tattoo was done.
What Can You Do About A Blowout Tattoo?
If you’ve fallen victim to a blowout tattoo, you might feel you cannot do anything about it. We are conditioned to believe that a tattoo is a permanent stain on the body and you cannot change it once you get the tattoo, unless you’re willing to undergo a very painful process of tattoo removal.
However, that’s not always the case. There are a lot of ways you can fix a bad tattoo, including one that gives a blowout effect.
● Tattoo Correction
The easiest way to do so is by getting a tattoo correction. This means getting a new tattoo over the blowout tattoo to camouflage the effects. Make sure that you go to an experienced tattoo artist who has already pulled off similar feats in the past.
You will likely have to wait for the previous tattoo to completely heal before getting the tattoo correction. This can take up to a few weeks. With the right technique and precision, an experienced tattoo artist can easily cover up a blowout tattoo.
● Laser Therapy
Another method that is less invasive than a surgical removal of the tattoo is laser correction. This method uses laser that fires energy waves at the skin. During this process, the ink particles diffuse further into the skin, making their appearance less visible.
However, this procedure is widely considered to be more painful that getting a tattoo itself and isn’t easy on the pocket either. Depending on how bad your blowout tattoo is, you might also need multiple sessions before getting satisfactory results.
● Surgical Tattoo Removal
This is the only method that guarantees the permanent removal of the tattoo. However, it is a very invasive procedure and should be only be considered if you don’t believe that there is any other way to fix the tattoo.
In this procedure, a surgeon removes the tattooed skin and stitches the areas surrounding it back together. The recovery time depends on how big the tattoo was.
- Tattoo blowout occurs when a tattoo needle penetrates too deep into the skin, where it disperses among sub-dermal fat.
- Tattoo blowout is more common when the tattoo site is on thinner skin.
- Tattoo blowout becomes apparent within days of receiving a tattoo, while normal fading occurs over years of aging.