Tattoo Removal For Cover Up Tattoos

A tattoo cover up can be a great solution for people who just aren’t a fan of their existing tattoo. Removery works with people on a daily basis who want to fade or remove their tattoos in preparation for a new design. When expert artists and laser specialists work together, amazing things can happen.

Intrigued by this idea? Read on to learn all about how to cover up tattoos with new tattoos!

What Is a Tattoo Cover Up?

A cover up tattoo is a design that’s tattooed over the top of an older tattoo, so the older one is no longer visible.

In some cases, blastovers, blackouts, and heavily saturated tattoos,  an artist can do a tattoo cover up without fading the original. However, in the vast majority of cases, tattoo fading will produce better results. Why? It gives the artist a clean (or cleaner) slate to work with, which gives them the freedom to create the exact design you want.

We find that people get tattoo cover ups for various reasons:

  • Simply disliking the design
  • An old tattoo fading or blowing out 
  • Personal tastes changing
  • Errors in the old tattoo
  • Realizing the tattoo is offensive
  • Being reminded of difficult past events

We find that many of our tattoo cover up clients get inked at a young age, often by a friend or acquaintance not really thinking about which artist or tattoo concept to choose.  That’s where a tattoo cover up comes in. Through tattoo removal, the old tattoo can be faded enough to allow a new design to be created over the top of it—a design that truly fits that individual’s personality and preferences.

In some cases, covering up tattoos plays a vital role in moving past difficult circumstances. For example, INK-nitiative clients who are reentering society after prison might remove gang or hate tattoos. This helps to shift perception and gives our clients a fresh start.

Expand Tattoo Design Options

Learn from NYC tattoo artist Jon Mesa about his approach to cover up tattoos and why he considers tattoo design and level of detail when starting a new cover up project.

Learn More

Tattoo Removal vs. Tattoo Cover Up

Maybe you’ve already decided that you want to get rid of an old tattoo. Should you opt for full tattoo removal or a cover up? Here are some of the considerations that our clients look at when deciding to get a cover up tattoo or fully removing it.

Full Tattoo Removal

If you have a tattoo in a prominent place like your hand, neck, or face, and you’re concerned about how it affects others’ perception of you, full removal might be the clear answer. People choose full removal when they simply don’t want a tattoo on that part of their body anymore. One of our tattoo industry partners Brian, chose full removal for a tattoo that had been hidden by his hair when he started losing his hair!

A career change often prompts the decision to remove a tattoo completely, as full removal lets people appear more professional in some fields like the airline industry or military. Laser tattoo removal can fade a tattoo so much that it ultimately becomes invisible.

Tattoo Cover Up

If you still like the idea of having a tattoo where your old design is located, a tattoo cover up might be the best option for you. Maybe you want to cover up tattoos on your arm with a new sleeve cover up that’s better designed, for instance. Or, maybe you want to cover up a script tattoo with something else, like a floral design. With a cover up, laser tattoo removal lightens the old design rather than fully removing it. A few laser tattoo removal sessions are usually necessary to fade the tattoo enough for a cover up. In some cases, specific areas of the tattoo take more sessions to lighten than other parts, due to factors like saturation, ink type, or tattoo pigment color.

The Tattoo Cover Up Process

What does the tattoo cover up process look like? Here are the steps, in a nutshell:

  • A specialist talks with you about the type of cover up tattoo you want. At  Removery, the specialist will also ask if you have an artist in mind. If not, she’ll make recommendations at this stage, since close communication with the artist throughout the process is ideal.
  • The specialist determines the approximate number of sessions needed to remove your tattoo, based on your desired outcome. 
  • You have a laser tattoo removal session about every six weeks, to give the skin time to heal between sessions.
  • After the old tattoo is sufficiently faded and the skin has healed, work on the new tattoo can begin!

If you don’t know exactly what you want your new design to be, your laser specialist might talk with you about your desired style and recommend some artists. If you find an artist you really love, he might come up with a personalized design idea for you. 

Coverup Tattoo Factors

An array of factors can affect what you can accomplish with your cover up and how long it will take.

Talk these factors through with your laser specialist and tattoo artist to make informed decisions throughout the process. At Removery, our experienced specialists are skilled at addressing all factors. They examine each tattoo and make recommendations on a case-by-case basis to ensure the removal and cover up are tailored to your needs.

How Soon Can a Tattoo Be Covered Up?

It depends on the style, as mentioned, you must wait 6 weeks between laser removal sessions to ensure your skin heals fully. Then, you must wait 6 to 12 weeks after your final laser removal session before beginning work on the cover up tattoo. The total amount of time needed will depend on how much fading is required. For a cover up that uses a traditional design with bold, dense lines, 4 to 5 sessions may suffice. That adds up to 24 to 36 weeks or about 6 to 9 months.

If you want a delicate, feathery tattoo or a geometrical design–which both have a lot of negative space—more fading will be necessary. These cases might call for 8 to 10 sessions. This adds up to 48 to 66 weeks total, including the waiting period at the end, or close to a year.

Remember, this waiting period ensures that your skin can heal completely before the artist begins the cover up tattoo. It might take some patience, but the results will be worth it when you get the tattoo you actually wanted!

Benefits of Covering Up Your Tattoo

Replacing an old tattoo with a new design can enhance your confidence. It can also affect the impression you make on others. If the design you chose as an 18-year-old no longer resonates with you as you enter your thirties or forties, a cover up can vastly improve how you feel when you look in the mirror.


Curious about the results others have seen with their tattoo cover up and laser removal? Check out some tattoo cover up before and after examples to see for yourself!

Partner with a Tattoo Artist

Removery has partnerships with a wide range of tattoo artists, giving you access to the best talent. Browse through our tattoo artist partners & get in touch with one of our studios near you to see if one of these great cover up artists is right for you!

Matt Driscoll - Realism and New School Specialist

Matt Driscoll, owner of 9th Realm Gallery in Salem, MA Explains how he approaches older tattoo cover ups using his unique real school style. Finding the perfect cover up artist before you even start removal will allow the laser technician to consult with the artist about exactly how much ink must be removed.

Keith Kuzara - Color Tattoo Coverup Specialist

Keith Kuzara, owner of Sink Or Swim Tattoo in Niagara Falls, NY relies on laser tattoo removal for both himself and his client's cover up tattoos. Keith knows to creatively use the existing linework in your old tattoo to create a new tattoo design. Keith stresses how when the colors in the new ink and old tattoo blend together new textures can be achieved.

Evan Olin - Realism Tattoo Artist

Skilled artists know how to choose the right colors for the job. They’re also adept at creating a vision for a new design that seamlessly blends in the remnants of the old one. With Realism it is important to know how to design new patterns based on shapes in the old tattoo. Evan Olin, owner of Powerline Tattoo in Cranston, RI works to use art school based design principles in his composition of cover up tattoos.

Cover Up Tattoos