Scars don’t always fade completely. Often, wounds leave a mark for life; and, some people wish this wasn’t the case. When you’re left with a scar you’d rather not look at for the rest of your life, there is the option of tattooing over the scar to turn this remnant of the wound into a work of art.
However tattooing over scars is a different form of tattooing with its own set of challenges to be aware of. Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether you want to tattoo over scar tissue.
Patience Is Key
When you’re left with a scar you hate, you may be over eager to try and cover it up with ink as soon as possible – don’t. When it comes to tattooing over scars, you’ve got to be patient.
It’s important to give your body enough time to heal completely – if you don’t and rush to the tattoo studio as soon as possible, you could end up with a tattoo disappointment.
How long should you wait? Well, it depends on how intense the wound and scar is. Tattoo artist, Gianna Caranfa, advises Byrdie that people should wait for around a year to ensure that your wound is fully healed before getting a tattoo over a scar.
You should also be patient when deciding on your tattoo artist – don’t rush to the first tattoo studio you see.
Take your time to research tattoo artists who are well versed in tattooing over scars. Tattooing over scars is not the same as tattooing on clear skin, so find a tattooist with experience in this field.
Be Realistic With Your Tattoo Expectations
Don’t expect that a tattoo will completely cover up your scar – chances are, you’ll still be able to notice the scar when you look closely at your tattoo. Of course, a lot depends on the tattoo design you choose.
“…the scarred skin is not flat and smooth, so the final tattoo design will also be textured. Try to go for a design that fits the texture of the scar. Avoid linework and geometric shapes and go with more naturally flowing designs (like flowers, for example),”Saved Tattoo
Top Tip: When researching tattoo artists to do your scar coverup, make appointments with tattooists just to chat, assess your scar, and get advice on what kind of tattoo design they recommend for the best cover.
Be Prepared For Pain
Getting any type of tattoo is going to hurt – it’s a needle getting pierced into your skin repeatedly, so it’s not a comfortable experience. But, tattooing over a scar can be more painful than a tattoo on unscarred skin.
This is because, unless you’ve experienced nerve damage on the area of the scar, scarred skin is extra sensitive, so will be more susceptible to the pain of the tattoo needle.
That’s not where the uncomfortability ends, though…
“Scar tissue gets extremely aggravated and raised during the tattooing process, and sometimes it can look shocking, but it’s totally normal and usually the skin calms down after a couple of hours. I always ask my scar cover-up clients to come in for a short touch up session to see how everything settled,”Byrdie
Tattoos Over Scars Have A Higher Risk For Blowout
Tattoo blowout happens when tattoo ink isn’t placed in the correct skin layer, causing the pigment to spread out from where it’s meant to be. Due to the irregularity of the scar tissue, this is far more likely when attempting to tattoo over scars.
Also, due to the texture of the scar, the healed tattoo may not be the end result you were hoping for. Be prepared to go for touch ups.
There are only two things you can really do to mitigate these two negatives of tattooing over scars:
First off, to avoid blow out, go to a professional tattoo artist who is experienced in covering scars. They are far more likely to place the ink in the correct skin layer.
Secondly, do your tattoo aftercare. Your tattooist will send you home with a list of aftercare instructions – follow them.
Skin is normally red and a bit irritated after getting a tattoo, however, if your tattoo stays sore, oozing, painful, and overall red for more than a few days or the scar reopens, go to a doctor immediately. You may have an infection.
Skin Colored Tattoos
You don’t have to decide between an intense tattoo design and just leaving the scar as it is. You could get pigmentation to try and blend your scar in with the rest of your skin.
This is a cosmetic procedure that entails using the pointillism technique where skin-colored ink is deposited into the scar tissue to lighten or darken the scar pigmentation.
“Corrective pigmentation scar tattoos are best in cases of stretch marks, burn scars, and pigmentation disorders,”Saved Tattoo
Your scar may not take the pigmentation immediately, so chances are you may need to go for a few sessions before you get the result you want, so this procedure can be more expensive than a tattoo.
Different Types Of Scars React To Tattoo Ink Differently
Not all scars are the same canvas for tattoo ink.
These scars are raised, thick, and irregularly shaped and can be challenging to tattoo.
“If you have or are prone to keloid scarring, there’s a higher chance that getting a tattoo to cover your scar will make the scar worse. If you want to cover a newly formed keloid scar, wait at least a year until it’s completely healed,”Healthline
Healed burn scars can be irregular in shape and can feel extra sensitive when being tattooed. An intricate tattoo design with lots of elements and colors is your best for covering this type of scarring.
These are precise incisions, such as mastectomy scars.
“Before getting a tattoo your operation sites need to be completely healed. This takes around a year, but ideally you should leave it a little longer before getting a tattoo. You should have also finished any chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment,”Breast Cancer Now
Scars on the stomach include stretch marks, cesarean delivery incisions, and other scars left from surgeries.
“Just keep in mind that as your belly grows or shrinks, so will your tattoo. If you’re planning on becoming pregnant or losing a lot of weight, you might want to hold off on your abdomen tattoo until after giving birth or losing weight,”Healthline
Through tattoos, people can improve their self-confidence by turning a scar into artwork.