In recent years, tattooing over or around scars to hide or camouflage them has become increasingly popular. Some people want to reduce the visibility of their scar, while some people want to make a scar that reminds them of a significant time or event even more meaningful with a tattoo. However, if the tattoo does not turn out well because of the type of scar a person has, the desired results are not achieved and the person will deal with unnecessary pain and disappointment. That’s why it is important to find a tattoo artist with extensive experience covering scars who can give you the information you need on whether or not your scar can be tattooed over.
Most scars will take tattoos just fine as long as they are completely healed and if the person waits at least 2 years after the injury or surgery. When it comes to hypertrophic scars, however, there is some uncertainty regarding whether a tattoo is a good option or not. First of all, it is crucial to distinguish hypertrophic scars from keloid scars. Keloid scars grow beyond the original shape and size of the skin injury, and cannot be tattooed. Even if a keloid scar has been stable for some time, it’s possible that a tattoo could irritate it into resuming growth.
A hypertrophic scar, however, while often thick, raised, and darker in color than the surrounding skin, does not grow and can often be tattooed. A person should wait until the scar is completely healed, avoid tattooing scars that are still red, and make sure the tattoo artist they choose has experience tattooing over this type of scar.
Having Realistic Expectations
As long as an experienced tattoo artist feels that your scar can be tattooed successfully, and you have a good understanding of what to expect, then feel free to start discussing tattoo designs and scheduling appointments. Realize that there won’t be any guarantee that the tattoo will meet your expectations, especially because it’s impossible to predict how scar tissue will react to being tattooed. Sometimes the ink may look lighter or lines may look blurrier than on regular skin. A small test line on a scarred area may be advisable to see how the tattoo looks on the scar before doing the complete tattoo.
Another thing to expect is that a tattoo on a scarred area may require multiple touch ups. Be prepared for these types of tattoos to take longer and require multiple visits. Discuss pain with the artist ahead of time. In different people, scars react to pain in different ways. Some scars have reduced sensitivity and the tattooing process may actually be less painful than normal; other scars, particularly those where nerves have been damaged, may cause the person more pain when getting the tattoo.
Finally, consider options for the design. If you have something specific in mind, discuss this with the artist and see how he or she feels about its effectiveness in camouflaging your scar. The tattoo will probably need to be larger than the scarred area for the best coverage. The artist will probably have some good ideas for the best design, so be sure to ask about this. And keep in mind that even if it is determined that the scar cannot be tattooed, it is still possible that a tattoo could be designed around the scar to conceal it somewhat. This may be an especially effective technique when the scar is thin or in the case of several smaller scars.
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