Tattoo Removal

I Hate My Tattoo – What Can I Do?

blog post alt tag
Published: 08.26.2022
Updated: 02.06.2024

Choosing what to order at a new restaurant can be a daunting task, but with some friends you’re more likely concerned with enjoying quality time so maybe you hastily make a choice from the menu.

There have been good reviews and one of your friends has been to this place before and raved about it, so it’s a sure bet to love what the server brings 20 minutes later. Or is it? The plate arrives and you hate the food. Not a big deal, order something new and with a little time, the problem is resolved. Tattoos are different; they were intended to be permanent and last a lifetime.

Sometimes though, even after all the research and proper planning, you simply hate the tattoo when the artist is finished. Or after a period of time, regret even getting tattoos in the first place. There are options if you’re saying to yourself “I hate my tattoo”, although it’s not as simple as ordering a new dish off the menu at a restaurant.

Is It Normal to Hate Your Tattoo?

Yes, it is normal to find yourself hating a tattoo. In a Dermatologist study of 600 people with tattoos, 78% of them regretted at least one.

You’re not alone in saying “I hate my tattoo”. Statistically speaking, smaller tattoos on the upper arms are the most common tattoos people regret getting, or hate having. 73% of people surveyed got tattooed within a few weeks of thinking about it, while 30% started to regret it just a few days later.

The three most common styles of tattoos people regret are lettering or script, symbols and tribal, 31% got tattooed to feel cool and 40% didn’t like how it looked when it was done.

Perhaps most astonishing statistic, it took 36% of people surveyed several years to start regretting the tattoo. This statistic proves regret is not always associated with spur of the moment, impulsive choices but shows that as we age, our tastes and aesthetics change, too. We see this with seasonal trends in fashion, eyewear, hair styles and many other aspects of our daily lives that are in a constant state of change and evolution.

Most Common Reasons For Hating a Tattoo

Every tattoo on every person is unique to them, but there are some commonalities when it comes to tattoo regret.

  • It was an impulsive tattoo: Perhaps the most common source of tattoo regret is when there’s been little to no planning on the design or placement of the tattoo.
  • No meaning behind the ink: Tattooing has a long, strong history of being used to represent something in our lives, or that has happened to us. Often people get tattoos to commemorate a special milestone or moment, as a remembrance of a someone who has past, or to bond with friends and family. When there’s no meaning behind the tattoo, its much easier to regret it.
  • Poor quality design or work: Self explanatory to some extent. Rushing into a tattoo or not researching an artist can often lead to a sub-par quality tattoo, and it’s easy to hate something when the execution isn’t acceptable.
  • Tattoo from a past relationship: Love is a tricky thing and leaving it behind you often involves cleaning your home, your mind and in some cases, your body. For this reason, previous relationship tattoos including wedding bands or initials on ring fingers, wedding dates, names and similar associated pieces are often an eye sore.
  • Symbolizes ideology they no longer agree with: As we grow, learn, and evolve, sometimes our convictions change, and opinions evolve. Seeing yourself with a symbol for something that no longer agrees with you or showing it to the world often leads to regret.

It is perfectly normal to be unhappy with a new tattoo.

How to Handle Tattoo Regret

There’s no one size fits all, blanket answer to handling tattoo regret. There are however a few different ways to look at things, figuratively and physically.
Fresh tattoos often bring on an unfelt level of anxiety, especially for those new to getting tattoos. The sudden change in appearance, how things look in the skin and the whole process of being tattooed is a lot to swallow at once.
Know that how a tattoo looks just after it’s finished isn’t how it will look forever, there is a healing period. During this time, the side effects of being tattooed will subside, like redness, swelling and bruising. The ink will settle in the skin as it heals and after several months, the healed tattoo will be what you’re wearing for life. The mind can have some trouble adapting to this new look, and that new look will change so keep that in mind.
If the tattoo regret is like those previously mentioned bullet points, or it’s been with you for several years and is no longer to your liking, then other options must be explored. 

The Tattoo Won’t Do – What Now?

We are at a point where what you have isn’t for you, time won’t heal it, change is needed. It’s important to clearly identify why you hate the tattoo, or what you hate about it to focus on the solution that makes the most sense.

Have It Touched Up

Some tattoos just need a little touch up to make them less regretful, and more enjoyable. A touch up can also bring the attention to the piece of the tattoo you really love.

  • Faded ink on older tattoos, or not properly saturated new tattoos can be touched up.
  • The new tattoo could be incorporated into a bigger piece.
  • Making an addition onto an old tattoo could reduce the regret, too. Whenever possible, return to the original tattoo artist for the touch up. Many artists won’t touch up or modify an existing tattoo. This is usually out of respect for the original artist, or because they only want to focus on their own tattoos. It’s always best to have a consultation prior to doing extensive planning to ensure either the original artist or new artist can meet expectations.


Get It Covered Up

Unlike a touch up, where the original tattoo is brought back to life and revived, a cover-up is a lot more involved for you, and the tattoo artist. Essentially, you’re putting something new over something old, completely changing the design, and there are some limitations with this method.

  • Cover-up tattoos will have to be bigger than the original tattoo, it’s impossible to go smaller.
  • Some colors will not be able to cover up the old design. Darker colors will need to be utilized to hide and cover the original, this may limit design concepts.
  • Older tattoos generally tend to be easier to cover as they aren’t saturated as well.
  • Some more involved cover-up tattoos will require multiple tattoo sessions to properly cover and hide the original tattoo.


Learn to Love Iti

In some cases, minor flaws in the tattoo are just the result of the imperfect art of tattooing and with time they can learn to be loved. Additionally, fresh tattoos do need time to heal and certain styles of tattooing, like American Traditional, often start to look better after several years of wear.

Are There Permanent Removal Options?

Going through a mental checklist of all the options and none yet seem to make sense or help with the tattoo regret? There’s another option to explore, tattoo removal.

Removal Options

There is roughly a half dozen different methods currently available to remove a tattoo, each has their own caveat to them however.

  1. Surgical Tattoo Removal: This invasive method must be performed by a surgeon and is typically only suited for extremely small tattoos where excess skin is also available. As an example, the top of a finger is not an ideal location to have a tattoo surgically removed. Additionally, there’s almost always some level of scarring, from a very small and faint line to something much larger.
  2. Dermabrasion: This method involves resurfacing the skin and should not be considered for tattoo removal, it primarily helps remove the top layer of skin known as the epidermis. Tattoo ink is in the second layer of skin, the dermis, and reaching it will result in scarring.
  3. Salabrasion: A combination of salt and water are used to remove dead skin from the surface but, like dermabrasion is not conducive to successful tattoo removal and can cause scarring.
  4. Creams: To date there are no topical creams that fade or removal tattoos.
  5. Scarification: A more extreme body modification, scarring usually results in some level of keloid scarring and would not remove the tattoo ink from the skin.
  6. Laser Removal: The safest, non-invasive method to fade and remove tattoos and has full FDA clearance. Laser tattoo removal treatments are quick, most being completed in less than a few minutes, however full removal will typically require between 10 and 12 treatments.


Cost of Tattoo Removal

Only two of the previously mentioned methods are viable for removal and prices will vary. Surgical tattoo removal will average between a few hundred and a few thousand, varying largely on who is doing the procedure and what city you’re in. Laser tattoo removal cost can also be between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars, however Removery does offer easy payment plans which greatly reduce the monthly expense.

Still Undecided? Consult a Tattoo Removal Specialist!

Tattoo regret can cause anxiety that can be overwhelming if not addressed or discussed. Reviewing the identifying part of your tattoo and what you might hate about it will help narrow the focus on finding a resolution so you can love your skin again.

If fading for a cover-up tattoo or removal is where you think the next step is, Removery is here to help. We offer no-cost consultations and are extremely experienced in helping you find the solution that works best.

Visit our how does tattoo removal work page, our tattoo coverup page, or read on about if tattoo removal creams really work.

Get Your Free Estimate

  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Dr Josh Weitz Dr. Josh Weitz Board Certified Physician

Get your free estimate

We’re on a mission to give you the most straightforward, easy and efficient laser tattoo removal experience. Your estimate will be entirely bespoke to your tattoo; the size, the colors, the ink. It won’t take long and afterwards you’ll have a plan to finally get rid of your unwanted tattoo and get back to being you.

Get Your Free Estimate

Find your nearest Removery

With over 150 studios you're sure to find one near you. We look forward to seeing you!