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If you’re suffering from tattoo regret but still love tattoos, then covering up your old tattoo with a new one could be a great option for you. Tattoo lightening makes this possible. Here, we’ll explain how the process works, what results you can achieve, and how many sessions it generally takes.

What Is Tattoo Lightening?

Tattoo lightening is the process of fading a tattoo to cover it with a new one. People often choose to lighten a tattoo because it didn’t turn out as they hoped or because they no longer identify with that particular piece. If you still want a tattoo—just not that tattoo—then tattoo lightening might be a better option than complete tattoo removal. 

Is It Possible to Lighten a Dark Tattoo?

You can absolutely lighten a tattoo that is too dark. If you still like your design, but it’s just too dark or bold, laser removal can help you achieve the results you want. Removery knows how to fade a tattoo as efficiently as possible. We use the PicoWay laser, the gold standard for tattoo removal, which can target highly concentrated areas of dark tattoo ink. Many other techniques, including PicoSure tattoo removal, cannot do this as effectively. With the PicoWay laser, our trained specialists can lighten your entire tattoo or certain portions of it to create the desired look.

lightening a dark tattoo

Fading a Tattoo—or Part of It—for a Tattoo Cover-Up

Many clients want to cover a portion of their tattoo rather than the entire piece. Perhaps one segment of your tattoo was sloppily done, or maybe you’d just like to modify it with a fresh design idea. In either case, tattoo lightening is the answer. It allows you to update an existing design into an image you truly love. 

A tattoo cover up requires partial fading of the old tattoo. This gives you and your tattoo artist much more flexibility in creating the new design. Because the ink from the tattoo you’re covering up will mix with the ink from the new one, lightening the old one gives you more control over the colors and intensity of the new design. It’s easier to create exactly the piece you want.

tattoo fading

Beware of At-Home Tattoo Lightening DIYs

At-home tattoo removal is dangerous because it can result in adverse effects like infection and scarring. Furthermore, it usually does little to remove the ink from the skin. Don’t try DIY techniques you read about on the internet. They are not safe, and experts and physicians strongly discourage them. For example, you might have heard that you can lighten a tattoo with hydrogen peroxide. This involves exfoliating the area and then applying hydrogen peroxide to it. However, this technique aggravates the skin rather than efficiently removing the ink. Having tattoos lightened through professional tattoo removal will ensure you don’t damage your skin and that you get the results you want.

Laser Tattoo Removal Is the Best Way to Fade a Tattoo

How to lighten a tattoo effectively? Laser removal is by far the best way to fade a tattoo. This is the quickest, safest, and most efficient removal process, says Cooper Ferreira, a Removery technician and experienced RN. “This is a process that utilizes your immune system to remove ink in a safe way,” he emphasizes.

Tattoo artists love when clients use laser removal to fade an old tattoo. It makes their job much easier and gives you more design options.

How Many Sessions Does It Take to Lighten a Tattoo?

Because you’re not trying to completely remove a tattoo, the fading process will achieve the results you’re looking for much faster.

How many sessions does it take? Every case is different, and your specialist will work closely with your tattoo artist to determine the degree of fading needed. It may take only half or a third of the number of sessions that full removal would have required. If full removal would have taken 12 sessions, and your tattoo artist believes moderate lightening is best, you might achieve the desired results in five sessions. As with any laser removal, sessions must be spaced at least six weeks apart to allow your skin to heal.

The following factors will have a major influence on how many sessions you need.

The style and color of your old tattoo

The subject matter of your old tattoo will influence the removal speed. If the tattoo features bold, blocky lettering, you’ll have to opt for a more thorough removal. If the tattoo is more subtle, removal may take fewer sessions. Certain colors fade more quickly, too—while dark green and black disappear faster, yellow and turquoise take longer.

The type of design you want

Some design types require more fading than others. More fading for a cover-up is necessary if your new tattoo will have negative space (the absence of ink in certain areas), says Dustin Ortel, a skilled laser technician in our Buffalo office. For example, getting a new piece with a geometric design or delicate, feathery work requires more lightening. Such art might require 8 to 10 sessions rather than the 4 or 5 sessions needed to prepare for a traditional tattoo with solid colors.

Your specialist will continuously assess your progress to determine whether the tattoo has faded enough for your cover-up. At Removery, you can purchase a package deal for partial fading, so if you need an extra session or two, you’re not paying more for them. In other words, you’re paying for the results, not for the number of sessions.

Do Tattoos Lighten When They Heal?

New tattoos are often bold and bright. However, over the course of the next several weeks, the tattoo can look dull or faded as it heals. After the healing process, the original brightness usually returns. At that point, some people realize the tattoo is more saturated or bolder than they wanted. Tattoos do begin to fade eventually, but they take a long time to fade on their own. That’s where laser removal can help! Rather than waiting years for the desired look, you can opt for laser tattoo fading to get the look you envisioned.

Can Side Effects Like Hypopigmentation Occur? 

Worried about tattoo removal and hypopigmentation? You may have heard that laser removal can lighten or darken the treated skin. When used by experts like Removery’s technicians, the PicoWay laser prevents hypo- and hyperpigmentation (lightening and darkening) from occurring during laser removal. It’s safe for all skin types and won’t cause any permanent damage. By following a few simple aftercare guidelines like keeping the area out of the sun, you’ll continue protecting your skin from any unwanted side effects.

Need Tattoo Lightening Services?

If you think tattoo lightening is right for you, or if you simply want to discuss this option with a specialist, book a consultation with Removery. We have a network of accomplished tattoo artists who regularly work with our clients, so if you haven’t already picked out an artist, we can also recommend the perfect one for you!