What Happens to Your Tattoo After Weight Loss or Gain? | Painful Pleasures Community

What Happens to Your Tattoo After Weight Loss or Gain?

Ever wonder what happens to your tattoo after weight loss or gain? We're breaking down all the changes you can expect in this blog.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: May 31, 2024

So… what happens to your tattoo after weight loss or gain? It’s an age-old question. But first thing’s first: Body changes happen whether or not you intend them to. Our bodies constantly change as we grow: lifestyle changes, pregnancy, natural aging, and so much more influence those changes. So whether you’re intentionally shedding pounds, bulking up, or simply riding the rollercoaster of life, your tattoos might tag along for the ride. But don’t worry, the changes to your tattoos aren’t as drastic as you might think. Let’s break down what happens to your tattoos when you gain or lose weight and how to keep them looking as fresh as possible.


We’ll start with weight loss. Now, let’s say you got a big dragon tattoo on a part of your body that’s largely susceptible to change: think your stomach, thighs, chest, or lower back. Here are a few things that can happen to your tattoo after you lose weight, especially when your tattoo is on a dynamic part of your body.

1. Placement Shifts

If you had a tattoo on your thigh, for instance, significant weight loss might cause it to migrate a bit. What was once proudly displayed on the side of your leg might edge its way to the front or back as your skin adjusts. Remember: this change will only truly be noticeable if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight. Normal weight fluctuations ranging from two to five pounds won’t result in any changes at all. And any other healthy weight loss, such as ten to twenty pounds, will likely not lead to significant tattoo changes.

2. Distortion and Blurring

Speaking of intensive weight loss—which can happen after weight loss surgery, dramatic changes in diet, significant amounts of stress, or other lifestyle changes—your tattoo can distort over time. Rapid weight loss can lead to loose, wrinkly skin, especially if it happens too quickly. Consequently, your tattoo might look slightly wavy or less detailed if the skin loses its tautness.

3. Wrinkles and Creases

As your body shrinks, the skin might not snap back immediately. This can make your tattoo look like it’s sporting some new wrinkles. Don’t worry, though… with time (and maybe a bit of moisturizing) wrinkles can improve.


Now, on to weight gain. Dramatic weight changes come with various lifestyle changes, pregnancies, and more. As with weight loss, your tattoo will likely be more susceptible to change on more dynamic body parts. But unlike weight loss, weight gain can result in more noticeable changes to your tattoo (even if the weight gain isn’t significant). But as we said in the intro—don’t worry. The changes are unlikely to be dramatic unless you undergo substantial weight gain, especially in a short amount of time.

1. Tattoo Enlargement

When you put on weight, your skin expands to accommodate the new body mass. This goes for any weight gain, no matter the composition (muscle, fat, silicone, etc). Consequently, as your skin stretches along with your body, your tattoo might appear slightly larger.

2. Fading Colors

As your skin stretches, the pigmentation in your tattoo can spread out, too. As a result, the colors and lines of your tattoos might look a little faded and lose vibrancy.

3. Placement Shifts (Again)

Just like with weight loss, gaining weight can shift your tattoo around. That bicep tattoo might move more to the side as your arm beefs up. It’s all about your skin adjusting to the new you.


Closeup of tattooed arm receiving tattoo aftercare treatment

You can counteract the effects of weight change on your tattoos in several ways. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Moisturize, Baby!

Whether you’re losing or gaining weight, one of the best ways to minimize tattoo distortion is by keeping your skin hydrated. Moisturizing improves your skin’s elasticity and resiliency, so it’s more likely to bounce back even after significant changes.

PRO-TIP: A good shea butter or coconut oil can be your skin’s best friend. We recommend Hustle Butter, an artist- and client-favorite moisturizing agent.

2. Get Touch-Ups!

This is especially helpful if your tattoo has lost vibrancy (which is most common after weight gain). Give your tattoo artist another visit and freshen up those lines and colors.

3. Intentionally Going through Body Changes? Do So Gradually

Weight loss + gain can be healthy when they’re done gradually. If you’re actively trying to lose or gain weight, listen to the advice of a registered dietitian to make sure you’re staying nourished and shedding or putting on pounds in as healthy and sustainably a way as possible. Your tattoos will thank you: tattoos will change with your body, but sudden or drastic weight loss can lead to sudden, drastic changes in your body art. Making mindful decisions is one of the best ways to ensure your body art doesn’t suffer.


Close-up of tattooed arm receiving aftercare treatment

Should You Wait to Get Tattooed?

If you’re planning a significant body change, it might be worth waiting until you’re done. Small tattoos in areas less prone to drastic change (like the forearms or upper back) are safer bets if you’re in a hurry to get tattooed while undergoing physical changes.


Here are a few small tips to roll with changes (after all, your body—and consequently your tattoos—are constantly changing).

  • Love It: Embrace your tattoo as part of your journey. It’s a testament to the life changes you’ve gone through.
  • Touch It Up: Visit your tattoo artist for a touch-up. They can add clarity or even rework the design to better suit your new physique.
  • Remove It: If the change is significant and truly bothers you, consider tattoo removal. Life’s too short to hate your body art. We recommend working with it, building upon it, or even covering it up.


Your body is always changing, and that’s a beautiful thing. Whether you’re gaining or losing weight, understanding how it affects your tattoos can help you make informed decisions. Either way, one of the best things you can do is practice healthy, artist-advised tattoo aftercare. You can find our full tattoo aftercare guide here. And remember, your tattoo is part of your story—so wear it with pride, no matter how it changes!

Now go out there, live your best life, and rock all your tattoos confidently!

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