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When I got my first tattoo, there were a lot of things I worried about. What if the design I picked doesn't transfer well on the skin? What if the artist gets a hand (or brain) tremor and I end up with one of those tattoos from the realm of "No Ragrets"? What if the tattoo ages horribly and bleeds out into the skin later?

Luckily, a comforting idea was always at the back of my mind. There's such a thing as tattoo cover-ups. I can always hide or add details to the existing tattoo to make it look better. And that's what this list is about – masterful tattoo cover-ups that showcase the true artistry of tattooists. So scroll through these artful improvements and let us know your tattoo story in the comments!

#1

The Dragon Was About 20 Years Old And Difficult To Cover-Up, So I Offered To Adapt It To A New Tattoo And He Accepted

The Dragon Was About 20 Years Old And Difficult To Cover-Up, So I Offered To Adapt It To A New Tattoo And He Accepted

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#3

Coverage With Portraits Of Masha And Pérola, Companions Of The Client

Coverage With Portraits Of Masha And Pérola, Companions Of The Client

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Who says you can't erase past mistakes? Certainly not when tattoos are involved! However, it's useful to know some things before deciding to cover up a tattoo. Salon owners and tattoo artists recommend doing a fair bit of research before making the big decision.

One might decide that the tattoo mistake is just not worth it and decide to get rid of it permanently. That's where tattoo removal comes in. Laser removal is the best option for those who want to erase their ex's name, an offensive design, or a poorly done ink job.

#4

Many Will Find It A Very Unusual Design, But It Was Created By My Client 20 Years Ago And Has Great Meaning. The Proposal Was To Keep The Same Idea As The Design But Keeping It More Current

Many Will Find It A Very Unusual Design, But It Was Created By My Client 20 Years Ago And Has Great Meaning. The Proposal Was To Keep The Same Idea As The Design But Keeping It More Current

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Tamra
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Damn, this is a stunning tattoo, nevermind the excellent cover up.

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#6

25-Year-Old Rework. It Doesn’t Need To Be Always Fully Covered-Up

25-Year-Old Rework. It Doesn’t Need To Be Always Fully Covered-Up

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However, removing every trace of a tattoo can be expensive, painful and time-consuming. Depending on the person's skin tone, the removal process might leave some scarring. That's caused by the loss of pigmentation. 

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Dermatologists say that the effectiveness varies individually: "Laser tattoo removal is a process that relies on the body eliminating ink from the skin which can take some time to process. While results will become apparent within a few weeks, it is not unusual for the body to take more than a year to completely eliminate ink."

#8

This Is The Most Detailed Piece I Have Ever Done In Such A Short Span Of Time, Less Than A Month, 8 Sessions. Everything Below The Neck Is Healed

This Is The Most Detailed Piece I Have Ever Done In Such A Short Span Of Time, Less Than A Month, 8 Sessions. Everything Below The Neck Is Healed

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#9

Cover-Up By The Amazing Tata At Recycle Tattoo, Ho Chi Minh City

Cover-Up By The Amazing Tata At Recycle Tattoo, Ho Chi Minh City

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Cover-up artists also recommend doing a few laser removal sessions before starting the coverup process. Chronic Ink writes that artists can cover up any tattoo, they just might need 2-3 removal sessions beforehand. "Doing a few removal sessions may lighten your tattoo, or bring your scarring down, so that the cover up tattoo has a better chance of really covering as if it were never there," the specialists at Tattoo Do write.

#11

Many People Think That To Cover It They Need To Make A Much Larger Design, This Is Not A Rule, It All Depends On The Creation Of The Art

Many People Think That To Cover It They Need To Make A Much Larger Design, This Is Not A Rule, It All Depends On The Creation Of The Art

In this case, we mold the design to fit the cover to the millimeter.

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Tamra
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I can't believe this is the same person...this is amazing.

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#12

Long Journey Of The Tribal Cover-Up Comes To An End

Long Journey Of The Tribal Cover-Up Comes To An End

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A complete tattoo cover-up is not always the only option. Some people may choose to reinvent the existing design on their skin. There's a possibility to incorporate the old tattoo into the new design. Perhaps the best example is that drunken Pikachu painting himself that Jessica Baker redid several years ago. 

#13

Well-Executed Cover-Up Project

Well-Executed Cover-Up Project

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#15

Homer Rework

Homer Rework

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A blast-over is also an option. That's a technique of putting a new tattoo on top of the old one without covering it completely. Tattoo Do writes that they can be especially eye-catching if the previous tattoo had light or faded colors. Then they can look similar to stained glass.

#17

I Took Advantage Of The Cat's Structure To Create A New Drawing And Also Took Into Account The Anatomy Of Her Body, Muscles, Tendons And Bones

I Took Advantage Of The Cat's Structure To Create A New Drawing And Also Took Into Account The Anatomy Of Her Body, Muscles, Tendons And Bones

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The success of the cover-up also depends on the color of the previous design. Darker colors with a heavy use of ink are more difficult to cover up than light-colored tattoos.

"For example, it would be easier to do a cover-up of a tattoo done in the watercolor style than it would be to cover up a traditional style tattoo. In cases where stronger colors are used, your artist may recommend a fading first," the artists at Chronic Ink write.

#19

One Of My Favorite Cover-Ups

One Of My Favorite Cover-Ups

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#21

Dr. Suess Cover-Up

Dr. Suess Cover-Up

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The next steps depend on what artist you choose for the coverup process. Some may like to give options of what is possible in each case. Others start by asking: "What would you like?" Electric Linda, founder of Attitude Tattoo Studio, is the proponent of the latter. "When I do cover ups, I want to make something that you really, really want," she says in her YouTube video.

#22

Covered-Up This Old Moon

Covered-Up This Old Moon

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#24

One Of The Most Challenging Covers I've Ever Done, Due To The Choice Of Design! In This Case, The Application Of Ink Was The Big Secret Behind This Coverage

One Of The Most Challenging Covers I've Ever Done, Due To The Choice Of Design! In This Case, The Application Of Ink Was The Big Secret Behind This Coverage

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"When they do tell me what they want, I will have to look at what they had before," she goes on. "And think about all the ways that I can make this come true. And I just have to pick the one that will look the best. Almost anything is possible. You just have to be creative," the tattoo artist believes.

#25

Eventually It Could Use More White In Some Areas I Think But For Now We’ll Get To The Other Side Where I Have To Work On Top Of The Exact Same Tone And Structure

Eventually It Could Use More White In Some Areas I Think But For Now We’ll Get To The Other Side Where I Have To Work On Top Of The Exact Same Tone And Structure

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Choosing an artist is a critical part of the tattoo cover-up process. You'll want a professional and experienced tattooist, but also one whose work you love. Chronic Ink lists trusting your artist as one of the main steps in getting a cover-up.

"Tattoo artists spend years perfecting their craft. If you can’t trust them to realize your vision, you’ll never be satisfied. Some doubt is natural, even healthy, but you have to trust your tattoo artist if the two of you are going to successfully collaborate and produce an incredible cover-up tattoo."

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#28

It Looked Bad Before The Cover

It Looked Bad Before The Cover

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XenoMurph
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's not terrible, just looks faded and old. That new one will be impossible to cover once it's as old.

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#29

Bye Pigeon, Hello Eagle. Awesome Transformation With Part Cover-Up

Bye Pigeon, Hello Eagle. Awesome Transformation With Part Cover-Up

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#30

Spider Cover-Up

Spider Cover-Up

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There's another thing to keep in mind – the cover-up design will definitely be bigger than the old tattoo. Artists can only cover the existing outlines if they go over them. "Your cover up tattoo will need to be, at a minimum, the same size as the original," Removery claims. That's why laser removal is not such a bad choice – if the old design is big, people can remove part of the tattoo, and cover up the rest.

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#34

3 Sessions On This Really Big Tattoo. Just To Give You An Idea The Customer Is 2 Meters High! All The Old Tattoo Was A Keloid And Now It’s Flat Again

3 Sessions On This Really Big Tattoo. Just To Give You An Idea The Customer Is 2 Meters High! All The Old Tattoo Was A Keloid And Now It’s Flat Again

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K B.
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I am confused. I thought I knew what keloids were, a problem where the skin forms excess scar tissue (as explained by a doctor) wherein further trauma has the same compounding result of causing even more scar tissue. Please, if anyone can explain, i am genuinely curious how a tattoo (more dermal trauma) could flatten this instead of making it worse. I was told these are almost impossible to remove because any cutting (or tiny stabbing) would make it worse.Tbh- I learned this 20 years ago when an ex had an infected keloid on his chest from an old stab wound (military accident, not crime related if anyone is wondering). Things can change in medicine and in how language is used, but yeah, if anyone has info, please share.

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#35

Bull Cover-Up

Bull Cover-Up

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Fickle_Pickle
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I was advised by a good friend of mine who is a tattoo artist to never ever get hand tattoos. Reason being we wash our hands more often than the rest of our body. The ink will fade faster. Looking at this picture, I can say there’s some truth to what he said.

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#38

New One Had To Be A Little Wonky To Cover-Up The Original. Don’t Really Care Though, I Like It

New One Had To Be A Little Wonky To Cover-Up The Original. Don’t Really Care Though, I Like It

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#40

Blast-Over Tattoo Before And After

Blast-Over Tattoo Before And After

Got this moon tattoo when I was 16 and finally got it covered-up at 26. Some of it is still visible but I don’t mind. What do you think?

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I heart Boo-BI-es
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I can't see the original moon in the new tat, I even put a little effort into trying to find where it was still visible..haha. OP will likely be the only one to notice any of the original. Very nice cover up imo.

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#41

Cover-Up I Did

Cover-Up I Did

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Firstname Lastname
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2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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#42

Cover-Up In Progress

Cover-Up In Progress

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#43

I’ve Done This Cover-Up

I’ve Done This Cover-Up

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#44

Bad Decisions Begone

Bad Decisions Begone

I got the original back when I was 18, as a fan of this series who didn’t want the same thing everyone else was getting.  I grew up and realised the less than savoury parallels being drawn between this and another IRL symbol of hatred, and also I don’t align with the beliefs of the creator of the series, so it had to go. So I went and got it covered-up finally. I’m feeling good today.

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I heart Boo-BI-es
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Can someone please help me out and tell this apparently unwoke panda which series OP is talking about?

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#45

Exclusive Art Created For Simone, Who After Carrying Out Some Laser Removal Sessions Came To Me For A Cover-Up

Exclusive Art Created For Simone, Who After Carrying Out Some Laser Removal Sessions Came To Me For A Cover-Up

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I heart Boo-BI-es
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I initially thought it was just a poorly executed tat of a stethoscope but now I'm wondering if it was supposed to be an infinity symbol as well?

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#46

If You Save At The Wrong End, You End Up Paying Twice. Let Us Advise You So That You Don't Regret Your Tattoo At Some Point

If You Save At The Wrong End, You End Up Paying Twice. Let Us Advise You So That You Don't Regret Your Tattoo At Some Point

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#47

Correcting Someone Else's Work, That Was Also A Cover. There Was A Dragon Above The Thumb. Choose A Master Carefully And Be Sure To Look At Their Work

Correcting Someone Else's Work, That Was Also A Cover. There Was A Dragon Above The Thumb. Choose A Master Carefully And Be Sure To Look At Their Work

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CG
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The issue with hand tattoos is that they'll fade very quickly compared to tattoos placed on other areas. That old tattoo is likely to be visible again in a few years.

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#49

I’ve Always Wanted Somebody To Read My Skin And Get A Little Peak Into My Life And Interests And This Was The Only Tattoo That Didn’t Really Feel Like It Should Be In My “Book”

I’ve Always Wanted Somebody To Read My Skin And Get A Little Peak Into My Life And Interests And This Was The Only Tattoo That Didn’t Really Feel Like It Should Be In My “Book”

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John Murphy
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

i personally dont get the "getting tattoos for other people" train of thought which this person seems to have. My tattoos are for me. When you get tattoos so other people can see them, eventually youll hate them. I have sleeves and 95% of the time I wear long sleeves over my sleeves, my art is for me and no one else.

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#50

In Progress, 90% Done

In Progress, 90% Done

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Emma London
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I like the original more. But maybe his sense of aesthetics changed over time.

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Note: this post originally had 80 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.