Do Tattoos Actually Last Forever?

Are tattoos really permanent if you can get rid of them with a laser device? Or if they tend to fade over time? I guess you could have a conversation about what “permanent” really means. But the truth is this: unless you do something to change it, your tattoo, in some form, is going to be with you for a very, very long time.

It’s the warning we when we’re teenagers and we think about sneaking off to get one: tattoos will last forever. But are tattoos really permanent? I mean, sure, they aren’t going anywhere for a while. But will they last forever? The short answer to this question is yes. But the long answer is a little more complicated.

Are Tattoos Really Permanent?

Suffice it to say, your tattoo will last forever, but it won’t always look the same. Your skin does some interesting things over time–and as the canvas changes, so too does the art. That’s nothing new. Tattoos have been around for a long, long time (some number of thousands of years).

In other ways, it’s kind of up to you whether your tattoo lasts forever. There are certain ways that you can get rid of your tattoo if you don’t like it–or if it turns into something you don’t like. In either case, you should think long and hard about your ink before you commit to it. Are tattoos really permanent. They’re definitely permanent enough.

Your Tattoo Changes as Your Skin Changes

Your skin is constantly changing, even though it might not seem like it when you’re young. There are two significant changes that your skin goes through that will affect your tattoo.

  • Exposure to sunlight: Unless you live in one of the select areas of the planet, you are going to experience a decent amount of sunlight in your life. Over time, this sunlight can actually cause the colors in a tattoo to fade. Your tattoo will get less and less vibrant over the years. Of course, you can always have a tattoo artist freshen things up, but that’s up to the individual. If, however, you just let your tattoo go, it might look significantly different after a number of years.
  • Stretching skin: Gravity has a kind of constant effect on your skin. Little by little, your skin sags and stretches, having lost the elasticity necessary to “bounce back.” This means that, depending on the location of your tattoo, your personal little work of art might stretch and become distorted. In some cases, a tattoo artist might be able to address these issues–but much will depend on the location of the tattoo and the degree of the stretch.

Ultimately, the rule of thumb is this: changes to your skin will result in changes to your tattoo. That’s the nature of this particular art form. In some cases, you might be able to anticipate and solve these problems before they occur. But sometimes it’s unpredictable. This certainly isn’t a reason to avoid getting a tattoo–but it is something to think about.

Experiencing Tattoo Regret

There are many reasons why one might experience tattoo regret. The above examples of what can happen over time are one reason. Maybe a tattoo just doesn’t look as good as it used to. On the other hand, sometimes it’s the person that changes and not the tattoo. This doesn’t have to be something extreme, like someone wanted to get rid of gang tattoos or prison tattoos or something like that.

Sometimes, people just outgrow their tattoos. It happens. And it doesn’t negate the value of that tattoo during the time in which you liked it. It just means you don’t really like it anymore. And here’s where new technology is going to help.

It used to be that if you didn’t like your tattoo, you were kind of stuck. It was going to be there whether you like it or not. These days, people who don’t like their tattoos have two options:

  • Option 1: A new tattoo. That’s right, if you don’t like your tattoo, you can always have it altered. Today’s tattoo artists are quite skilled at this kind of reconstruction. Maybe you have an old tattoo of a heart you don’t like. Perhaps a skilled artist can turn that heart into a tree (or something) that you like better. There are plenty of these options for people who want to color over their tattoos, essentially.
  • Option 2: Laser tattoo removal. Modern laser systems are good at so many things, from skin rejuvenation to hair removal. And lasers can also get rid of tattoos. They do this by, essentially, targeting the pigment in your skin left behind by a tattoo. The process can be a little on the uncomfortable side (but let’s be honest, the same is true of getting a tattoo in the first place). The end result is an area of skin that look essentially as normal as ever (though it might look a little fresher for a little while).

You Have Options

Whether your tattoo is just changing or you want to get rid of it, the important thing to remember is that you have options. Are tattoos really permanent? By their nature, yes. But they don’t have to stay that way.

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