Most of the time, tattoos are an awesome experience that leaves you with a beautiful and possibly quite meaningful piece of art to carry with you forever. Sometimes, however, what a tattoo ends up being is a mistake. When this happens, you don’t have to panic. There are things you can do to rectify the situation. Laser removal is one (very expensive) option. Another is to have it covered up. Getting a tattoo covered up is a different experience than a regular tattoo for many reasons. 

Do tattoo coverups take longer to heal? Like any tattoo, there are several factors that will go into the healing time of a coverup tattoo. Certain criteria might make it take longer than a regular tattoo: 

  • The size and design of the original tattoo
  • The condition of the skin
  • How saturated the original color is 

In addition to cover-up specific reasons a tattoo might take longer to heal, there are other things that factor in as well. Once you leave the tattoo shop, they can’t control what you do. They also have no control over any negative reactions your body might have. So, while some things are out of your control, the proper healing of your tattoo, cover-up or otherwise, is up to you. 

What Will Shorten the Healing Time of Your Coverup 

There are certain things that are out of your control when it comes to the healing of your coverup. Other things, you can do to make the healing experience faster, smoother, and better. 

What You Can’t Control

While many things are up to you, the following factors are out of your control but will still contribute to the speed and quality of the healing process. 

Tattoo Application 

While everyone hopes they can trust their artists, they are human, and sometimes mistakes are made. It’s also true that everyone has to start somewhere. If you are getting a simpler design done by a new artist or even an apprentice, there is a higher risk of mistakes being made. 

Most of the time, these won’t be drastic and likely won’t ruin the tattoo completely. But, sometimes the mistake isn’t in the design or appearance, but in the treatment of the skin. Blowouts, excessive bleeding, over-irritation, or too much pressure will all damage the skin more than is necessary. These things will, in turn, affect the healing process. 

Overly-damaged skin will take longer to heal, as will skin that has been overworked and extremely irritated. The longer healing times also leave it susceptible to infection for longer. 

Allergic Reaction 

Another thing that you can’t do much about is an allergic reaction. The reality is that some people are allergic to tattoo ink. The problem with this is that you won’t know you’re allergic until you get your first tattoo and your skin reacts. 

The only thing you can do here is something called the patch test. You can go into the shop and get a tiny little dot of ink put on your skin, somewhere inconspicuous. You can then leave this for several days and see if you get a reaction. 

Some don’t like this for the small dot it leaves behind, and it may not be 100 percent reliable as your body may still react to the much larger amount of ink that comes with a full tattoo. But, it can still be worth doing if a possible allergic reaction is something you’re wary of. 

The Design 

The design of the tattoo is another thing that you don’t have as much control over when it comes to a coverup. When you get a normal tattoo that’s going on plain, bare skin, you have full control. The design can be whatever you want, as big as you want, and you can choose the colors. 

With a coverup, you don’t have as much choice in the matter. You still have a good amount of control and your tattoo artist will work with you and the design to make it something you love. 

But, in order to effectively cover up the original tattoo you want gone, it will have a minimum size. It might also need to be a certain shape. It will need to be in a very specific location, and certain colors may even be necessary for it to work. 

For example, heavy blacks often work to cover something up. Other times, only certain colors will work to cover up other colors. Pastel pink can’t cover a dark blue. 

These things will also have an effect on healing time. Color tends to heal slower than black and grey, with specific colors taking even longer than others. Coverups also tend to be large in order to effectively cover the area. Larger tattoos naturally take longer to heal simply because more skin is damaged at one time. 

What You Can Control 

No matter what type of tattoo you’ve gotten, you control the aftercare. Your artist will leave you with detailed instructions and it’s in your best interest to follow them exactly. If you have any questions or concerns about them, they will gladly speak to you on the phone or through email about your issues. 

You can also control your reaction to possible problems or infections. It’s up to you to monitor the tattoo closely and pay attention to unusual changes or symptoms. If it’s taking too long to heal or you start feeling sick, running a fever, etc, it’s time to take action. 

Don’t neglect this possible infection in hopes that it’s nothing. Contact your artist and your doctor right away. The sooner an infection, allergic reaction, or any other problem is treated, the better. 

Covering up a Scar With a Tattoo 

Bad and regretful tattoos aren’t the only thing that can make you self-conscious about your appearance. Sometimes, scars from accidents or surgeries can be large, nasty, angry-looking and in very inconvenient locations. 

In some cases, people look into getting a tattoo put over the scar in order to improve their appearance. This is absolutely possible, though there are a couple of considerations to think about first. 

The Pain 

Most of the time, tattooing over a scar is going to be much more painful than usual. Skin that is permanently damaged in any way will always be more sensitive than regular, healthy skin. That being said, the older the scar is, the less extreme the pain is likely to be – depending on the severity of the scar. 

Certainly, a scar needs to be completely healed before a tattoo artist will even consider touching it. 

The Risks 

While tattooing over a scary can turn an ugly memory into something beautiful, it doesn’t come without risks. The big one is not a health concern, but the fact that the tattoo itself might end up being a little warped or distorted. This may be unavoidable depending on the nature of the scar. 

You’ll have to decide whether this is something you can live with, should it happen. For many, it’s still worth covering the scar, even if it’s not 100 percent perfect. Many artists can work with the design to minimize this as well. 

The other thing you risk is the scar reopening or rupturing from the needle. The risk of this is low, but it is a risk. You can try to determine how likely this will be based on the severity of the scar. You can also consult your doctor before pursuing a tattoo over your scar and see what their opinion is. 

Can Any Tattoo Be Covered Up? 

The basic answer here is yes. Any tattoo can be covered up in some capacity. However, not every tattoo will be able to be covered 100 percent. There are times when the color is just too dark and saturated or the design very difficult.

In these cases, you have a couple of options. First, you can go with the best coverup possible, and live with the fact that there may be traces of the old design visible in certain spots. 

The other option is partial removal. Laser treatments are expensive, but it’s not so bad if you’re only looking to lighten it. Getting halfway there and then covering it up might make the coverup more successful. Lighter colors are easier to cover. 

Do Coverups Take Longer to Do Than a Regular Tattoo? 

The answer to this depends on the coverup, but in general, they can take much longer. Often, the artist needs to place several layers of color in order to fully coverup what’s there. This adds time to the tattoo that would not otherwise need to be taken if you were getting the design as a regular tattoo.  

If you’re covering up a scar or a particularly difficult/dark tattoo, the process also might take longer simply because it’s more painful than a regular tattoo and you need more frequent breaks. Don’t be afraid to take these breaks. A good tattoo artist won’t push you, and overexerting yourself will only make for a bad experience.