One of the most dramatic modifications of the body is significant weight loss or gain, including muscle gain from strength training. If you have tattoos, or are contemplating getting one, these body changes need to be taken into consideration as to how they may affect your ink.

In the past year, I have lost over 90 pounds. My friend Lacey was already thin, but she has been exercising a lot and has increased her muscle mass significantly in the last year. And another friend, Lyndsay, has been pregnant for the last 9 months and is about to give birth. All three of us have had major body changes in the past year that could have changed the appearance of our tattoos, either temporarily or permanently.

Weight Loss
Depending on how much weight you lose, it may or may not affect your ink. But in most cases, even dramatic weight loss only shrinks each part of the body a small amount. And slight shrinking of a tattoo usually won’t change the appearance much at all, unless the tattoo was too detailed to begin with. Lines that run too closely together could theoretically blend and cause a distorted image, but this is a very rare occurrence. After losing over 90 pounds myself, I have not noticed any significant changes in my ink. If anything, they look better.

The only possible exception to the above rule would be drastic weight loss over a short period of time, such as from bariatric surgery or illness, which results in areas of sagging skin. If a tattoo resides in an area where the skin is sagging, obviously it will also affect the appearance of the tattoo itself.

Weight Gain (Non Pregnancy)
While dramatic weight gain is certainly not encouraged, it does happen to many of us. The reason I had so much weight to lose was because I gained it in the first place. The good news is that – similar to weight loss – even significant weight gain only causes minimal changes in each body area. The problem with weight gain, though, is the possibility of stretch marks. If you get stretch marks in an area where you have a tattoo, it will ruin your ink. The deeper the stretch marks, the worse the damage – and it is irreversible.

Pregnancy Weight GainUsually, only tattoos directly in the middle of the body are susceptible to damage due to pregnancy weight gain. this is why women are usually encouraged to wait until they are beyond childbearing years or be sure they do not plan to have any children before deciding to get a tattoo in this area. Because the weight gain and skin stretching is so dramatic over such a short period of time, even if you don’t get stretch marks, the tattoo probably won’t fare well – and stretch marks only make it worse. As noted above, the damage caused from stretch marks is irreversible.

Muscle Gain
If you’re working out and toning muscles a bit, it shouldn’t affect your tattoo at all. But if you’re doing heavy weightlifting for significant muscle mass gain, this could cause a problem for a tattoo in that area. The better the placement of the tattoo in relation to the muscle, the less chance of distorting the image as a result of muscle bulge. If you’re already a weight lifter and have achieved your optimum muscle mass, getting a tattoo shouldn’t cause any issues. The only thing you’ll want to be careful about is working out while you’re healing a new tattoo.

Now or Later?
If you don’t already have a tattoo but are considering the possibility, you’ll also want to consider the chance of significant body changes in the future. If you’re already trying to lose weight, gain muscle or could get pregnant, you may be unsure whether you should get the tattoo now or wait. It’s a valid concern, but it is something only you can decide. Consider the information here and make an informed decision.

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