Why do older tattoos seem faded and sometimes blurry?

I’m sure we’ve all seen older tattoos that seem to have faded or blurred over time.  What causes this phenomenon?  Is it preventable?

All tattoos are susceptible to fading and “migrating.”  One of the main reasons tattoos fade and spread over time is simply that tattoo ink is a suspended solid placed into the skin which is a living organ. Though the dermis, where the tattoo ink resides, does not change anywhere near as rapidly as the epidermis; it still changes.

When a tattoo is applied, the tattooing process creates an immune response to rid the body of the foreign substance.  Some ink particles are removed through a lymphatic response, while others too large for the body to remove are surrounded by fibroblast cells and sealed in the dermal layer of the skin.  Movement of the tattoo occurs over time as these fibroblast cells either divide or die and exit the body.  Also, over time, tattoo ink settles deeper into the dermal layer resulting in a faded look.  Fading and moving by these processes should take several years before a noticeable difference is seen.  However, there are other factors involved.

Weight gain/loss is a huge factor.  While healthy weight gain/loss may not going to cause any significant changes to your tattoo, significant weight gain/loss over a short amount of time will have a tremendous impact on your tattoo, especially if stretch marks become present.  A stretch mark running through your tattoo is inevitably going to ruin the tattoo.

Pregnancy weight gain is almost always going to alter the appearance of a tattoo, usually permanently.  Because the body changes so rapidly, the tattoo will stretch with the body, but often has difficulty returning to it’s original state just as your body has difficulty returning to it’s pre-pregnancy state.  This is usually only an issue for tattoos in the middle of the body though as that is where the most significant body changes occur.

Muscle gain can also affect the appearance of a tattoo.  Though as with the other types of weight gain, it is really only the significant gains over short amounts of time that cause noticeable effects on the tattoo.

Sun exposure also plays a huge role in altering the appearance of a tattoo.  Even tanning can deteriorate the looks of your tattoo.  Keeping skin moisturized and protected from sun damage will decrease the affects of the sun on your tattoo.

The smaller or more detailed the tattoo, the more noticeable these changes are going to be.  Take that into consideration when selecting your tattoo.

If you already have a tattoo that is showing it’s age, Vanish can help.  We can remove of fade your tattoo further to free up the real estate and allow you to get a newer, brighter tattoo in place of the old faded, distorted tattoo you may currently be sporting.  Cruise through our website for more information, and give us a call when your ready to get started.