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Ask FGG: What happens to a tattoo if I lose (or gain) weight?
Posted by Toni in Ask FGG
Cecily's ink still looks awesome. Indeed.
I'm thinking about getting a tattoo, but I'm concerned about it looking terrible if I keep losing (or end up gaining) more weight. What happens to tattoos when skin and shape changes?"

We spoke with tattoo artist Jon Kelly, owner of Olde Tyme Tattoo in Fullerton, California to get his advice.

"Prevention of any sort would be to pick the proper location on your body," he says. "Stretch marks will ruin your tattoo, so if you find yourself prone to them, try to pick an area on your body that has minimal chance of acquiring stretch marks." Tatts distorted by stretch marks may have to be reworked, covered up, or even removed.

"Not all women are prone to stretch marks, so there's no generalized answer that fits every individual situation," adds Kelly. "Let's say you gain 80 pounds and you end up with no stretch marks. The tattoo you have may end up off center depending on where it was originally placed." The bottom line: know your body, choose your artist as carefully as you select the location for your tatt, and accept that if you gain or lose weight, your ink might need more work later on.

We also asked fearless blogger Cecily Kellogg (pictured above), who writes at Uppercase Woman, for her voice of experience on this topic. Here's what she had to say:

"Skin expands. Whether you are talking about pregnancy or your more standard filling out, skin stretches. If you have ink on that skin, the ink will stretch too.

With general weight fluctuations, most tattoos will look just fine. You should have no permanent misshaping of the ink, even with very fine detailed work. If you have a portrait, it is possible that the portrait will look a bit less like the original model, but tattoo portraits rarely look much like the original model anyway (unless you have an exceptional artist, who will resist putting a portrait on any place likely to do much expanding; shoulders, upper arms, upper back, and calves are least likely to expand).

I've gained a fair amount of weight over the years I've collected my ink, and while my arms have gotten larger, my ink still looks absolutely awesome. The tattoos on my back (they extend from my upper shoulders to my middle back) also still maintain their awesomeness.

Additionally, I've known pregnant women with belly tattoos that have stretched out to crazy, misshapen levels, but when the pregnancy is over, the tattoo looks okay. Sometimes there is a bit of sag in part of it, but by a year after the baby is born the ink looks pretty close to the original design.

The main key to preserving the quality of your ink is the same whether weight gain is an issue or not: choose the tattoos carefully, use a high quality artist, and consider the placement of the tattoo before getting it. If you plan well, and choose well, your ink will look just as good ten years down the line as it does a week after you get it (it never looks good while it's healing), regardless of your size."

Have a question for us? Post it in comments or send us an email and we'll tackle it in an upcoming Ask FGG feature.