A tattoo is a beautiful thing that (hopefully) carries a lot of meaning for you and that you will cherish for the rest of your life. A tattoo can carry even more personal meaning when you use it to cover up a scar that could be a potentially dim reminder of a possibly traumatic experience. Getting a tattoo over you scar(s) can be done, but there are a few things to take into account when considering it.
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Can You Tattoo Over Scars?
Usually, yes, but it depends heavily on the type of scar you are dealing with. Some types will obviously be more painful than others, and some types of scar might make tattooing over them more difficult, if not downright impossible.
Relatively minor scarring, such as acne scars, stretch marks, burn scars and the like can be tattooed over with relative ease.
Keloid scars, on the other hand, are a different matter. These scars appear as a raised growth on top of the skin and they’re the result of excess collagen production during the healing process. Keloid scars are more difficult to tattoo over, and often impossible. Since keloid scars are growing progressively, this can damage the shape of the tattoo. Even if a scar has stopped growing, the pigment and the tattoo process might cause it to resume growth. And on top of that all, keloid scars don’t work well with tattoo pigments, and often force the pigment to stay on top of the skin, rather than underneath.
Choose The Right Type Of Tattoo
Obviously, some tattoos will be better at concealing scar tissue than others. Even if it is possible to tattoo over your particular scar, the level of concealment will depend heavily on the tattoo design. Think of a butterfly tattoo, for example. On lean, unscarred skin, the butterfly looks alright. But over a scar, the butterfly will seem to have an unusual marking on its body or wings, which obviously, will affect the quality of the tattoo.
You see, you need to find a tattoo that doesn’t just “write over” the scar, but rather one that cleverly incorporates the scar, in order to make it less noticeable.
Does It Hurt To Tattoo Over A Scar?
Yes. As with anything, the pain level will again depend on your own personal pain threshold, as well as on the type of scar. Some types, such as keloid or hypertrophic scars, are more painful to tattoo over than others. Burn scars might also be more sensitive, and as such hurt more.
Remember that we are dealing with scar tissue here, and as such, it is a lot more sensitive than your regular skin. So when considering the pain level you’ll have to endure, it’s good to take the average pain level of the area and take it up a few notches. So if you’re tattooing, say, a low-pain level area, such as the wrist, you can expect it to turn into a medium-pain level area, if it’s scarred.
If the incident that produced the scars also caused some nerve damage in the area, then the tattooing process can be extremely painful.
Can A Tattoo Cover A Scar Completely?
No, one thing you should know before you decide anything is that even the most skilled of tattoo artists can’t perform miracles. The tattoo, if well done and well planned, can help conceal the scar quite well, but it won’t make it disappear. You will still have a patch of skin that is different and that stands out upon closer examination.
When Should You Tattoo Over A Scar?
You have to wait for the scar to be completely healed before you can start the tattooing process, so expect to wait anywhere from 1 to 3 years for this to happen. The scar needs to have faded to a dull white and not appear as red or pink (which means it’s still in the healing phase). While this may be a long time for it to heal, it will give you plenty of time to think of a good tattoo idea while you wait.
Are There Side Effects?
This depends on the skill level of the artist, as well as the type of scar, but yes, sometimes tattooing over a scar can result in the color bleeding out of the tattoo (since the scarred skin takes to the pigment less well) or to the tattoo appearing uneven due to the scar. So you need to also acknowledge that.
A Good Artist Makes All The Difference.
You’ll want to look for an artist with quite a bit of experience tattooing over scars, as they will be better able to work with you on the right design and work with your scar to create the best possible outcome. A skilled artist may cost you more, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
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Final Words – Should You Tattoo Over Scars?
Scars are a reminder of who you are, they are memories of your life’s story and of who you were at one point in your life. So whether you embrace that or decide to tattoo over them and tell another (also cool) story is up to you, but at least now, you’ll do it well-informed.