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Blackout Tattoo Sleeve Designs Cost, Meaning, Cover Up and Risks

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Last year, popular personalities embraced the tiny tattoo trend. This does not seem like it will last long enough going by statistics on Instagram. This is because ink lovers are embracing blackout tattoo designs which were made popular by tattoo artist Chester Lee, a 29 year old Singaporean.

The new trend involves covering up large body parts with high resolution tattoo patterns and shapes done with solid black ink as opposed to the all so common intricate designs that mostly involve bright colors. This trend is therefore not meant for the delicate ink lovers. The technique incorporates great graphic designs and can be used to highlight contours on the body. It also helps in using the skin as a space for self-expression.

Blackout Tattoo Sleeve Hand and Legs

The most common placement for the blackout tattoo art is the arms and legs. The full blackout sleeve and full leg are quite common. Some dedicated tattoo lovers, however, are getting this kind of inking on their backs, chests and stomach.


Blackout Tattoo Cover up

At times, tattoos are done in haste and some people will end up regretting them. When this happens, the use of blackout tattoo cover up can provide a solution. Lee warns though that when used for cover up, the part of the skin on which it is done will be left with negative lines but the old one will be invisible.



Blackout Tattoo Cost and Time

While the equipment used in the two is the same, blackout art takes more time compared to regular tattoos.  This is because the work is done on a larger scale. A full sleeve blackout tattoo which covers up the whole arm starting from the wrist to the shoulder takes about 20 hours. This would be split in small duration such as four five hour sessions.

In the same way, the process is labor intensive and thus more costly with most tattoo parlors charging between $150 and $300 per hour. Miss Chan, a tattoo model who has combined blackout tattoos with tribal patterns to produce complex designs expects to have spent $10000 by the end of the process.

Miss Chan blackout tattoo design
Miss Chan blackout tattoo design

Blackout Tattoos Risks

Whereas blackout tattoo may be the currently trending technique in the industry, it doesn’t come free of risks. Some of these are as discussed below.


Normal tattooing comes with a certain level of discomfort. It is no surprise then that inking large parts of the body and for a long time comes with pain. The healing time is also extended. It is therefore important to get ready for the accompanying discomfort before starting the process.


According to Doctor Eric Schweiger, half of melanoma cases develop from pre-existing moles. Where there is one on the skin, it is important to have the tattoo artist leave it uncovered with the black ink. Where they get all covered up, it becomes hard for your dermatologist to distinguish between normal and cancerous moles. In addition, have your skin checked for cancer at least once every year.

Allergic Reactions

The dark ink used to develop blackout tattoos contains different ingredients some of which are industrial grade. Since the ink is injected into the skin layers, it is possible for it to seep to the blood stream. When this occurs in large amounts, there is a potential for allergic reactions to occur resulting in redness, inflammation of tissues, blisters and itchy rashes around the inked skin.

Keloid Scarring

Keloids refer to a type of skin scarring that sees the scar grow beyond the initial size of the wounded skin. They also are raised above the skin’s surface. When having a blackout tattoo being done, it is possible for the skin to be overly traumatized. When this happens, the skin will heal with the scars taking the shape of the tattoo and extending beyond it in some cases. These scars will be permanent and even if the blackout tattoo was to be removed, the keloids would remain.


Another health risk of having a blackout tattoo is the heightened risk of bleeding and infection due to the large parts of the skin they cover. Proper after care is therefore necessary to help hasten the healing process as well as reduce the chances of infection.

While hey give a unique look, before getting any blackout tattoo design, it is important to evaluate the risks involved. In addition, the process will be there for a long time and it takes quite a process to reverse it.