It’s best, of course, not to get into this situation in the first place, and to think long and hard before choosing a tattoo and/or a tattoo artist, but if for some reason you are not satisfied with your tattoo – you have three options:
Fixing or renovating: In some cases, a tattoo that was made unprofessionally will be fixable. It would be very hard for me to describe the situations that would allow or not allow fixing a tattoo, so just show your tattoo to the tattoo artist and he will tell you if fixing the tattoo is possible, or if you have to choose from one of the other options.
In a lot of cases this would be, of course, the simplest (and cheapest) option, but not always the recommended one. If your tattoo is in a very bad shape – take under consideration that even after the renovation it won’t be perfect… In addition, a renovation could only make the tattoo darker, and then choosing one of the other following options – might be no longer possible, or harder.
There is also the option of upgrading the tattoo, which is to enlarge it and to add additional elements around it, thus “stealing the show” and attracting the attention away from it and on to the additions.
Cover-ups: Smaller tattoos, or tattoos with weak colors, can be concealed by a new tattoo. The new tattoo would have to contain darker colors than the old one (at least a part of it) and it would generally have to be larger than the old tattoo [it is important for you to know that no color will be able to conceal a color that is darker. For example, orange will never conceal blue, but it will conceal yellow. If your old tattoo is black – the new tattoo will have to contain at least one black segment…There is no option to conceal a tattoo using “skin color”, or any other weird idea.]
In a lot of tattoos that were poorly made and have not properly healed, formed a scar tissue and are protruding from the skin, even after being concealed by a new tattoo, they will remain protruding, and if you touch the new tattoo – you will be able to feel the old tattoo. Nothing to do about that…
By the way, also relatively light colored birth marks, and old scars, will be possible to conceal using the same method.
In any case, a cover-up will require consulting and planning by a professional tattoo artist, and in many cases, the design of a new tattoo specifically for you.
Removal by laser: If any of the two previous options isn’t possible, or you’ve just decided you don’t care for the tattoo anymore – you can choose this option.
The procedure is usually preformed by a doctor in plastic surgery clinics and special institutes, and takes quite a long period of time, since it is done in a series of sessions and not in one go. This system, for now, does not have the option of removing every type of tattoo, it is not cheap, and is more painful than other systems. It’s recommended only in the most drastic and extreme cases.
Keep in mind, that just like there are good or bad tattoo artists – there are also good or bad laser-operators. An unprofessional laser removal can cause scars and damages to the skin, that you would wish you stayed with the old tattoo! Check and get recommendations in advance about a professional clinic or institute.
By the way, you can use this system to brighten or lighten the tattoo, which is to have only some of these sessions. Even after the first one or two sessions in a laser institute, the tattoo will only get brighter/lighter, and it would become easier to fix or to cover it up.